Class FAQ


Table of Contents

  1. What is the purpose of this FAQ?
  2. Where can I find information about the college and available courses?
  3. How do I enroll?
  4. What if there is a "prerequisite" for the course I want to take?
  5. What if I'm on the waiting list?
  6. Where do I buy the book and software for the class?
  7. What if I'm late to class?
  8. What if I miss a class? 
  9. What are your rules of conduct during class?
  10. What if I need to leave during class?
  11. How do I turn in assignments?
  12. What if my assignment is late?
  13. What if I have a good excuse for my assignment being late?
  14. When will you grade my assignment?
  15. When will the next assignment and lecture be available?
  16. What is your cheating policy?
  17. What is your grading policy?
  18. Is there extra credit?
  19. What if I need to drop the course?
  20. Can you give me an Incomplete?
  21. How do I contact you?
  22. Why do I want to contact you?
  23. What if I still have questions?

What is the purpose of this FAQ?

To provide information that applies to all my classes, online as well as traditional. Please see my Online FAQ for information regarding the differences because a class is taught online rather than traditionally. 

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Where can I find information about the college and available courses?

The L.A. Valley College Home Page has links to a wealth of information about the college. Also, If you are a continuing student (or a new or returning student whose application has been accepted), you can use the Student Information System to register for classes, view class schedules or your grades, transcript, financial aid status or fee information. The catalog and this semester's schedule of CSIT courses can be accessed from the college's Catalog and Schedule Online.

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How do I enroll?

The college's website has instructions for enrollment, including enrolling online. Telling me you want to enroll does not enroll you in the class.

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What if there is a prerequisite for the course I want to take?

Then normally you should, and have to, take the prerequisite first. Most intermediate and advanced CSIT courses have prerequisites, which are other CSIT courses that you should have taken before. Any prerequisites for a course is listed in the catalog and schedule. For example, a prerequisite to Advanced Visual Basic (CSIT 809) is Introductory Visual Basic (CSIT 808). 

Admissions checks when you try to enroll in a class whether you have taken the prerequisite, either at this college or in a corresponding course at another college in the L.A. Community College District. If you haven't, you won't be permitted to enroll in the class unless you successfully "challenge" the prerequisite. To do so, you need to complete and obtain approval of a prerequisite challenge form before you can enroll in the class. The college's Catalog and Schedule Online explains where you can obtain the form and the process and time limits for seeking and obtaining approval, which you obtain from the Department chair or their designee (email me if you don't know who to ask).

The usual basis for a successful challenge is you have the knowledge, through other education or experience, to succeed in the course without the prerequisite. Using Advanced Visual Basic as an example, you may have taken Introductory Visual Basic at a college outside the L.A. Community College District, or worked as a Visual Basic programmer. In any event, you are required to prove you have the prerequisite knowledge.

A word of warning. The prerequisites are there for a reason. In the experience of CSIT faculty, students who had not taken prerequisites before prerequisites were validated generally did poorly because they did not have the knowledge they needed to take the more advanced class. They tried to skip the prerequisite because they were in a rush but ended up wasting time by taking a course for which they were not yet ready. Additionally, even if, for example, you are permitted to take Advanced Visual Basic without having taken Introductory Visual Basic, don't expect me then to tutor you in Introductory Visual Basic. It would be unfair to my Advanced Visual Basic students for me to divert my time from them to teach introductory Visual Basic programming to students who really are in the wrong course and should be taking Introductory Visual Basic.

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What if I'm on the waiting list?

You wait. Just kidding. Make sure you come to the first class. I will tell you then what your chances are and the procedure I will follow. I really try not to turn away students, though there are limits to how many students I can have in the class, such as fire safety limits.  

 

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Where do I buy the book and software for the class?

Normally, both the book and the software can be purchased at the college's bookstore. You also may often be able to purchase books and software online, such as from needsoftware.com. Software such as Visual Studio often can be purchased in an Academic Edition, which has the same features as but is far cheaper than the Professional Edition which is sold commercially. If you are not able to locate the book or required software in the college's bookstore or otherwise, please let me know. 

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What if I'm late to class?

It happens. This isn't high school. I don't lock the doors or send you to the Attendance office. Just take a seat as quietly as possible without disturbing the rest of the class. Please don't ask when you come in "did I miss anything important?" You definitely missed some of my recycled bad jokes, and perhaps lecture, assignment explanations, test announcements, etc. At a break or after class, you can ask a classmate what you missed. Don't ask me. I have enough to do without trying to recall and repeat information for tardy students.  

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What if I miss a class?

This happens too. It is a good idea to notify me (email works) before or soon after the class, especially early in the semester, so I don't drop you for non-attendance. It also is your responsibility to find out what you missed. As with being late, ask a classmate, not me, what you missed. If you don't know any classmates, make a friend. If the classmate you ask is not a reliable source of information, improve your friends among your classmates. If you can't make friends, improve your personality.

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What are your rules of conduct during class?

This is a college so I'm not going to post basic rules of civil behavior as in elementary school. However, there are several issues of common courtesy that seem to recur semester after semester, so I would like to address them here.

  • Please don't talk to classmates during class. It is rude not only to me, but to your classmates, who, believe it or not, are coming to class to hear me, not you. Even whispering can be very disturbing to those around you. If you have to talk to a classmate during class and you can't wait until the break or after class, just go outside. 

  • Please don't talk on your cell phone inside of the classroom, even during breaks. Just go outside to talk. Also, please turn the ringer off on your cell phones and pagers. You can put them on vibrate if you want. 

  • I teach in a lab. While plants need water, keyboards and other computer equipment do not do well with your drink or food crumbs showering down on them. Therefore, the lab has a policy of no food or drinks. That being said, I will permit you to bring food or drink inside the classroom if it is inside a backpack or the like. Also, drinks must have a twist-on or other secure cap; a coffee lid won't work. Finally, if you want to eat or drink, don't do it in class, even during a break. Just go outside. 

  • Please dispose of your trash in a trash can at the break or after class. There ain't no maid service.

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What if I need to leave during class?

If you have to leave class in the middle of a lecture, whether to talk, to go to the bathroom, make a cell phone call, or a food or drink run, just do so as quietly as possible without disturbing the rest of the class. As for what you miss while you're gone, see above about coming late to class.   

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How will I learn of assignments, tests and other class news?

Come to class, or in the case of an online class, visit the online class' website frequently to learn of assignments and other class news. I will post assignments and other news on this website. My plan is to have one assignment every few weeks. Don't count on me e-mailing you to tell you of an assignment, test or other important news.      

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How do I turn in my assignments?

The Assignment Instructions covers how to submit your assignment and post it. Now for the "nots."

Do NOT turn in an assignment that fails to meet the instructions given in assignment. These instructions are designed to make my review of your assignment more efficient. I usually have large classes, and consequently many assignments to review. The more time I waste because students don't follow instructions, the less time I have to review your assignments.

Do NOT turn in your assignment late.

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What if my assignment is late?

Don't be late. I try to grade and return your assignment before your next one is due since the assignments build on each other and I want you to be able to learn from your mistakes. However, I am on a tight schedule; I teach several different classes totaling well over 100 students, each having its own assignments. Therefore, I reserve time to review assignments based on their due dates. If your assignment is late, I can't grade it when I grade the others. Late assignments may not be graded at all (which means a zero), and even if they are, they may not be graded and returned for a long time, and there likely will be a deduction for the assignment being late, because it is not fair that someone who turns an assignment in late receives the same credit as someone who turns their assignment in on time. 

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What if I have a good excuse for my assignment being late?

First, if you think you have an excuse, you must let me know (email works) in advance of the due date unless it was literally impossible for you to do so (like you were in a coma, being held hostage, etc.). Second, the excuse must be an unexpected and serious emergency. Examples of good excuses, from my past experience, were an unexpected need for heart bypass surgery and being hospitalized with head injuries after being hit by a bus (these are real examples). Having a cold or the flu won't cut it. You have plenty of time to do the assignments.  Also, being being busy at work, family obligations or going on vacation is not an excuse. It's your job to plan your life, not my job to plan this class around your life. If your work, family or other outside commitments do not permit you to devote the time and energy to succeed in this class, simply take this class another time when you have the time.  

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When will you grade my assignment?

When I feel like it :-). Seriously, as stated above, I try to grade and return your assignment before your next one is due since the assignments build on each other and I want you to be able to learn from your mistakes. For reasons of efficiency, I try to grade an assignment at one time, starting right after the assignment is due. My goal is to post the grades and comments within one week after the assignment is due (you can't get faster service than that!), though whether I can meet that ambitious goal depends on factors such as the number of students. Of course, if your assignment is late, as explained above, I can't grade it when I grade the others.  

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When will the next assignment and lecture be available?

Usually a few days before the previous one is due. I don't make the assignment available much earlier than that because I am trying to keep the class at more or less the same place in the progression of the course. The lecture (for my online classes) is posted with the assignments to which it corresponds.  

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What is your cheating policy?

To paraphrase the Nike commercial, just don't do it. Seriously, while I do not expect this would be an issue with any of my students, for the purposes of notice, I do follow the college’s Policy on Academic Dishonesty. The issue of cheating comes up most often on assignments. Assignments must be done individually unless I consent in advance that a group effort is permitted. In that event, only one assignment, with all names, will be turned in. Under no circumstances should one student copy another student's assignment and turn it in as their own work. That will be regarded as cheating not just by the copier but also by the person whose assignment was copied unless the copying was done without their knowledge.        

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What is your grading policy?

The weight I give assignments and tests is stated in the class syllabus, which is posted online on the class' ETUDES website. For your class grade, basically I grade on a curve only if it helps you, not if it hurts you. In other words, a 90 is an A even if you have the lowest grade in the class (this is unlikely of course). However, if a curve indicates that I should drop below 90 for an A (or 80 for a B, etc.), then I may do so (this is a matter of instructor discretion). In borderline cases, I try to give the student the benefit of the doubt if the student's record of attendance and turning in assignments has been good.  

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Is there extra credit?

No. I just have too many assignments to grade, there are only so many hours in the day, I'm not a young man anymore, etc. I believe my time and energy are better spent on getting your assignments back to you quickly, administering the discussion group, and otherwise teaching.    

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What if I need to drop the course?

Then you drop the course. It is your responsibility, not mine. I don't drop you, you drop you. The schedule posts the deadlines to drop the class without a "W" and (later) with a "W."  I have to give a grade to everyone still enrolled at the end of the semester. If you stop going to class but forget to drop, I have no choice but to give you an "F."  

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Can you give me an Incomplete?

Can I? In general, yes. Will I? No, unless you have a real good reason, which usually is an unexpected and serious emergency. Real examples from my past experience were an unexpected need for heart bypass surgery and being hospitalized with head injuries after being hit by a bus. Examples of excuses that are not good reasons include:

  • Having a cold on the day of the final exam (the famous "Finals Flu") unless you have a written excuse from your doctor substantiating your inability to take the final.

  • Having a conflicting work schedule, family obligation or vacation. It's your job to plan your life, not my job to plan this class around your life. 

  • Forgetting to drop the class in time. 

Also, you must request the incomplete (email works) a reasonable time in advance of the final exam unless it was literally impossible for you to do so (like you were in a coma). Leaving a message on my voicemail five minutes before the exam is not a reasonable time.  

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How do I contact you?

Jeff's office is located in Campus Center 225, and Devvie's office next door in Campus Center 227. However, we both also see students at the CSIT classrooms in the Engineering building.

Jeff's office phone number is (818) 947-2448, Devvie's (818) 947-2471. We have voicemail. However, it often is difficult to understand voicemail messages, sometimes due to the quality of the voicemail system and sometimes due to the quality of the message. Also, we check our email far more frequently than our voicemail. Further, if you have call-blocking, we may not be able to return your call, since our phone system can't show a caller ID. Therefore, email usually is preferable to voicemail.

Jeff's e-mail address at school is kentja@lavc.edu, and outside email is jkent@genghiskhent.com. Devvie’s e-mail address at school is schnedd@lavc.edu,  and outside email is devvie@genghiskhent.com.   

Our semester office hours will be announced on our Information page of this website. Please email before you come. We can only help one student at a time. If more than one student arrives at one time, we give priority to the student who made an appointment. If you let us know in advance when you will be coming, then we can advise you if another student already has booked that time, and reschedule you for earlier or later that day so you don't have to wait. We also will be happy to help you in the lab when we're there with another class once we've finished helping students in that class. Additionally, we will be available by pre-arrangement and, as always, by e-mail.

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Why do I want to contact you?

Beats me. Seriously, if you have questions or are experiencing problems, don't wait until the day before the final. By then it may be too late.  

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What if I still have questions?

Email us at the one of the email addresses given in "How do I contact you?" Or see us.

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