Here you will find information on required readings, import university policies, and course-specific policies like attendance and cell phone use.

Required Texts

Arola, Kristin L., Jennifer Sheppard, Cheryl E. Ball. Writer/Designer . Boston: Bedford/St Martin's, 2014. ISBN-10: 1457600455

Purchase books at university bookstore or match the ISBN number online. Last time I checked, all books were on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble online.

Grade Breakdown

Item Percentage Comments
Attendance and Classwork 15 See Attendance section below
Quizzes 15 See Quizzes section below
Self-Guided Skills Development 15 See Assignments
Two Work-in-Progress Submissions 20 See Assignments
One Work-in-Progress Presentation 10 See Assignments
Final Portfolio of Work 25 See Assignments

Grading Scale

Letter Grade Percentile Description
A+ 97-100 Superior achievement in all aspects
A 94-96 Superior achievement in most areas
A- 90-93 Superior achievement in at least one area
B+ 87-89 Exceeds expectations in all aspects
B 84-86 Exceeds expectations in most areas
B- 80-83 Exceeds expectations in at least one area
C+ 77-79 Meets expectations in all aspects
C 74-76 Meets expectations in most areas
C- 70-73 Meets expectations in at least one area
D 65-69 Does the assigned task but does not meet expectations or work is not appropriate for college level
F 0-64 Unexcused late work, does not do the assigned task, not complete, or quality is significantly below expectations

Major Assignment Grading Rubric

I will use a descriptive, non-numerical rubric as a baseline for major assignments. These content areas are meant to guide instructor feedback and to suggest my standards for these assignments. Specific assignments will often have additional areas of focus or will potentially exclude some these items. The baseline rubric includes the following criteria:

Item Description
Assignment Process: Evaluates whether students have followed directions properly. All materials are turned in on time and in the right place. Assignment directions are followed. Required components are all present and submitted on time.
Attention to Detail in Writing and/or Code: Language shows thought, precision, and control in word choice. Uses forms of grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and syntax that are appropriate for published work. Demonstrates careful attention to proofreading. For websites, links work properly, images display, all html tags terminate properly. Page design renders as intended.
Interface Functionality and Design: Interface is easy to navigate and aesthetically balanced. Appears to be designed with an overall vision or sense of purpose. Data visualizations or interactives are clearly contextualized and show evidence of attention to design. Features that may seem out of place are well contextualized in written materials.
Synthesis of Form and Content: Digital functionality extends research in some way. Clear connections between design and subject matter. Approach conveys care and creativity. Work successfully imagines its audience and choices seem consistent with that audience. Elements that may seem out of balance are discussed in written materials.
Evidence of Effort: Supplementary statements and process assignments clarify and contextualize choices. Work shows no signs of last-minute, unresolved complications. Student has shown the professor drafts in office hours or during studio blocks.

E-mail Communication Policy

Each student is issued a University e-mail address (username@pitt.edu) upon admittance. This e-mail address may be used by the University for official communication with students. Students are expected to read e-mail sent to this account on a regular basis. Failure to read and react to University communications in a timely manner does not absolve the student from knowing and complying with the content of the communications. The University provides an e-mail forwarding service that allows students to read their e-mail via other service providers (e.g., Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo). Students that choose to forward their e-mail from their pitt.edu address to another address do so at their own risk. If e-mail is lost as a result of forwarding, it does not absolve the student from responding to official communications sent to their University e-mail address. To forward e-mail sent to your University account, go to http://accounts.pitt.edu , log into your account, click on Edit Forwarding Addresses, and follow the instructions on the page. Be sure to log out of your account when you have finished. (For the full E-mail Communication Policy, go to www.bc.pitt.edu/policies/policy/09/09-10-01.html .)

A Note on E-mail Etiquette

When you send me an email, please follow some basic conventions of formality and politeness. There's no need to construct the equivalent of a business letter, but please don't begin your message with "hey," and please take an extra moment to make sure you spelled my name correctly. I promise to show you the same courtesy.

No Late Work Accepted

Life happens. Sometimes something just isn’t going to get done. If you speak to me at least a week ahead of time and I approve an extension, I will consider assigning a new due date and hold you to it. The trade off is that work turned in this way is probably not going end up in my hand when I grade everything else, so it’s going to get less feedback. Retroactive and last-minute extensions will not be granted. If you miss a deadline entirely without getting an extension, you can still do the assignment as part of the final portfolio, but you will automatically receive a 0 for the initial grade.

A Note on Office Hours

I use a digital tool for office hours appointment management. If you go to the website https://lavin-office-hours.youcanbook.me/ , you will see a real-time account of when I am available. My standard appointment slots are Mondays and Wednesdays, but a slot will appear in gray if I'm already booked. You are welcome to drop by if I appear to be free, but it's generally a better idea to make an appointment well in advance if you have something important to discuss with me. If I ever need to cancel office hours on a given day, I will update the calendar and email anyone with an appointment.

Dietrich Requirements

This course covers the W requirement.


Cell phones should be off and put away. Laptops are okay for notes and such, but you should not be messaging, using Facebook, etc. I’ll check screens regularly give you a verbal warning on your first offense. After that, I reserve the right to ask you to leave class and mark you absent if you are creating a distraction.


This course has intermittent quizzes on material from readings and lectures. Quizzes are designed to measure how well you are integrating the material. They will generally consist of 10-15 multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer style questions. Occasionally some other activity will count as a quiz grade.

Being Prepared for Class

Coming to class prepared means that you have the day's reading in hand (printed or digital) and have come to class with a way to take notes (printed or digital). If you are not prepared for class, I reserve the right to mark you absent for that day. Anything due on a given day is due at the start of class. Any digital submission of material is due by the time class starts on the day the hard copy is due. The one exception to this policy is the final paper, which is due (hard copy and digital submission) by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, 2018.


Attendance will be taken in every class. All unexcused absences will reduce your participation grade, as will all instances on unexcused tardiness. This is a class where you have to come to do well. Every semester I am forced to give out 2-3 Ds and Fs, and it's almost always students who didn't show up regularly. In the event of an excused absence, you should get class notes from a classmate and speak to me about a makeup assignment. Your best bet here is to seldom or never miss class. Anything more than four absences, even if they’re excused, and I’ll probably recommend that you withdraw. If you know you are going to miss class for a sport commitment (or other sanctioned reason) you must let me know ahead of time so I can assign work to keep you on track.

Disability Resource Services

If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Office of Disability Resources and Services, 140 William Pitt Union, 412-648-7890, as early as possible in the term. Disability Resources and Services will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Academic Integrity Policy

Cheating/plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students suspected of violating the University of Pittsburgh Policy on Academic Integrity, noted below, will be required to participate in the outlined procedural process as initiated by the instructor. A minimum sanction of a zero score for the quiz, exam or paper will be imposed. (For the full Academic Integrity policy, go to www.provost.pitt.edu/info/ai1.html .)

Sexual Harassment

The University of Pittsburgh will not tolerate sexual assault/sexual harassment. Complete details of the University’s Sexual Harassment Policy may be found and read in its entirety at http://www.provost.pitt.edu/information-on/antiharassment_statement.html . This policy provides a variety of individuals on each University of Pittsburgh campus who should be contacted with questions or concerns.