Welcome to the Fall 2015 semester and Health Psychology D919!

Below is a set of ground rules specific to discussions held in class and online.  These are important to remember so that every member of the classroom feels respected and safe when discussing topics that are sometimes personal and powerful.

  1. Listen actively — respect others when they are talking.
  2. Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (“I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”).
  3. Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks — focus on ideas.
  4. Participate to the fullest of your ability — community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.
  5. Instead of invalidating somebody else’s story with your own spin on her or his experience, share your own story and experience.
  6. The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding.
  7. Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses — they can be as disrespectful as words.

 YOUR TASK:  It is now your job to create any additional class ground rules you may feel necessary. You may also use this opportunity to ask a question about any particular policy and stimulate conversation among your classmates.  If you chose not to add a rule, please be sure to elaborate on one of the rules presented above.  You are encouraged to reply to other’s suggestions about these guidelines for meaningful discussion among one another.




76 thoughts on “Policies

  1. I believe some open minds should be included in there although it’s not written I feel it’s there and should be pointed out either way.
    I want to agree with all of the rules but #6 is preventing that.
    Would it be invalidating to tell a similar experience from said person and their choices and outcome without reference to the previous story told?

    • In response to your question- we have limited amounts of time during our class meetings. If the story is very similar, ask yourself “what does me sharing this add?” “Is it something that I can share on OpenLab later?” “Might I shorten the story, or just share my outcome?” “Do I have a question for the speaker?”

  2. I agree and like rule #6 because it gives you a chance to understand someone else’s point of view and lets you gain knowledge from it. It might even change you from not agreeing to the statement to actually agreeing.

  3. I like rule number six. We are living in a time where diversity is supposed to be like the “new thing” the “in thing” (just saying). Businesses and companies express how they wish to inculcate diversity; always giving examples. However diversity can also be extended to diversified opinions and feelings not just race, culture and religion..

  4. I think we should refrain ourselves from showing to much emotion to a comment or situation another student is expressing, it might be an offense to others. I also think that students should allow others to finish talking before commenting or asking any questions.

  5. Questions and Additional Rules:
    1. Is drinking(water, soda, juice) allowed in class?
    2. Are we allowed to use computers in class since using our smartphone is allowed?
    3. Will there be a penalty for not submitting assignments on time due to computer malfunction or poor network?
    4. In reference to policy 2 above, is it wrong to speak or comment about others(race, gender, etc) if you have experience and proof to back your statement?


    1. Hands should be raised before asking a question
    2. No sleeping during lecture
    3. With reasonable explanation or proof when you are absent or failed to submit an assignment, an email should be sent to the professor immediately, and re-submission of assignment should be submitted before the beginning of next lecture.

    • Water/drinks- go for it!
      I STRONGLY discourage the use of computers and smart phones in class– course time is time for you to listen and discuss. Assignments requiring that type of technology are to be done outside of class time.
      There will be a penalty if you do not submit you assignments on time. What you mentioned has never been a problem, and emailing me in advance about such matters is strongly recommended.
      In response to comment #4– don’t use “they” statements. You are asked to speak using “I”, despite what proof you have, it is impossible for you to have met everyone member of a particular group in order to speak about them respectfully. These types of instances might be reserved for raising questions or opening discussion with others outside of the classroom (perhaps with friends/family) where the policies described are not in effect.

      I like no sleeping and phones off! Great ideas– I would just hope that everyone knows that by now 🙂

  6. Hi everybody 🙂
    I’d like to add one more rule because of the diversity of our student population. There are many nationalities in the NYC and accordingly there are many students for whom English is a second language therefore those students (I’m amongst them) have problems with understanding the speakers. My suggestion is for the speakers to speak a little slower and clear, please :)))))
    thanks in advance

    • Marianna– Thanks for the reminder!! I tend to speak fast, and I’m always working to slow down. I will be certain to keep this in mind. I think it’s a good idea that you grabbed a seat in the front–that way I can be reminded to slow down and you can hear things as clearly as possible. You set a great example!!

    • Thanks Mariana. I appreciate that you brought up this point. I am asking also that people be patient and take time to listen actively to those classmates whom English is a second language without making fun of their accent. These people work hard to achieve their goals and deserve a lot of consideration and respect.

  7. I think the policies set are pretty good. Although I do have a question, is it ok to snack while class is in session? Could you possibly add a policy on that.

  8. I think that policy number 1 is important because it says that we should take other voices into consideration. As said in policy number 6, we should gain a deeper understanding of another person’s point of view and this should be done by listening actively. Policy number 7 reminds us that sometimes we wear our thoughts on our sleeves. This means that it is important to be mindful about our body language.
    -Stacy Gaston

  9. I agree with all of the ground rules with the exception of rule #3. In my opinion I would factor in that speaking freely would offend others even though its for learning purposes. I feel that it is in our nature to have a change in tone or feeling when responding to a “challenge question”. Therefore, challenge questions would be challenging to answer respectfully for few. Referring back to my Intro to Psychology class, I have experienced the conflicts among the peers when having open discussions.

    • This is a good point. Sometimes the challenge questions is rhetorical– it is not intended to be answered, as it may take time to answer, but it is, in many ways, the most respectful way to challenge a speaker. If people are quick to respond to a challenge question, then it is more about being defensive than taking the time to think about it. You raise a very good point about these unique dynamics.

  10. I believe the policies are unusual but great. Many times I have observed a person in a group speaking about their experience or something they had witnessed, while another person treating them as if they are fabricating a story. This, I believe, is often due to ignorance of the challenger, their lack of knowledge or even personal beliefs that this event could not be true.
    I truly do not like this kind of behavior because I do not think one could oppose to something they have no facts or knowledge about in this case. I like all the policies but more so, items 3 and 5 for the reasons I have mentioned.

  11. Important to focus on interest of the course , not positions.
    because, It is difficult to agree on positions, easier to generate solutions that take into account all the interests identified. Everyone is untitled to his or her understanding base on experiences belief,culture,and social orientation.

  12. The policies seem pretty straight forward, of course some of these are common sense. I find it curious that our opinions are actually important whereas we could just as easily be reading from a textbook or website for information that has already been gathered. Also, I wonder if in this class, our stories/experiences are worth just as much if not more than just facts. It all seems interesting and I’m happy to tackle the subject.

    • There will definitely be plenty of facts to digest, and the quizzes as well as the papers will assess some of these. Your “opinion” in this case is very important, as you will be learning how to develop informed opinions about new material. I’d like to change the way we think about things like race and health, and by sharing your questions and discussion points is one way for me to see how you are processing the new information 🙂

  13. Have an open mind. We are all different and will bring different ideas to this class. Don’t close your mind into a specific point of view and give people the opportunity to provide you with reasons why they think the way they do. You’ll be surprise and find out that there is something new to learn everyday.

  14. I’d like to add be kind, and non judgemental. Some things are hard for people to talk about. We don’t know anyone’s true story or what they’re going through in life so keep an open mind!

  15. I think all of these rules are very important, however I must admit rule number 5 is my personal favorite. It frustrates me when people have something to say when they were not there to experience it themselves.

  16. I believe that is important to facilitate an open forum for students to express themselves without being judged. All of the ground rules help in creating an environment for comfortable learning. I am excited about all the discussions that may arise with this class.

  17. The rules/policies here are pretty straightforward to me. The only thing is that I hope we can all keep an open-mind and remember that while it may be someone’s opinions that are expressed, that no one takes anything too personally. Although it is understandable, how some opinions can spark a huge “discussion”. Hope you can be there to cut in and calm us down (no one’s perfect) and try to move us through the discussions.

  18. I feel that all of these rules are important and I don’t see the need to add any to the list. Maybe as others are speaking we could all try to keep our emotions at bay and process all information non-judgmentally , or just rationally. I think that would help.

  19. I do understand the rules and try to be in the right track. However, I often make facial expressions, especially, pursed lips. For me, it’s difficult to hide negative emotions than hiding positive emotions.

  20. I believe it is very important to not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, while refraining from personal attacks and focusing on ideas. I feel that in today’s society, everyone is self conscious about sounding too offensive if they challenge someone to a question.

  21. I agree everyone should respect one another. the way to show that is to listen to others while they’re talking, but not to interrupt them even though we might not agree to one another.

  22. I wish rule #3 was a law instead of an internet policy. Nothing is worse than voicing an opinion that differs from a popular ideology, for it only to devolve into a downward spiral of personal insults. Sometimes I wonder how different the world would be if having a different opinion was celebrated and spurred intelligent by everyone, as opposed to creating a divide of hostility and aggression.

  23. I have read the policies and I think all of them are good and important to have a great in class experience. I would like you to consider rules regarding texting during class and putting cellphone on silent during class . One more is to be on time. Thank You!

  24. I agree with rule #7. Keeping in mind that our body language can reflect words that are not being said but thought. We need to be just as respectful with our body language as we are with our words.

  25. out of all the policies, i like first one the most, “Listen actively — respect others when they are talking.” throughout my college years, i realized that a lot of people tend to interrupt one another. if a classmate was explaining something to someone, it would be nice if that other person could keep it to themselves till he or she finishes speaking.
    if you respect others, they respect you.

  26. I am a firm believer of all of these rules especially rule number seven. Even though no words are spoken, a rolling of eyes can show exactly what that person was thinking. I also believe that number three and six go hand in hand. By challenging one’s response or thoughts in a positive way, you tend to gain a deeper understanding of what ideas they are trying to express.

  27. I agree with all of the rules especially rule # 6. we don’t have to agree with each other but we can work as a team. From applying this , we will acquire ability to interact effectively with different cultures, beliefs, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

  28. Hmm…Number 5 might be a difficult rule for me as I do often like to be a devil’s advocate and disagree with people because I like to look at both sides of every story. However, I do think it is a nice rule. Invalidating another person’s feelings and judgement is unnecessary. I’ll try not to cross the line if there’s a debate and challenge with questions. I think that is a very good advice that I should employ more often in my life.

  29. All of these discussion rules look great; however, during a long discussion it is easy to go off topic.
    An additional rule that I would like to propose is to stay on topic and have everyone be proactive; informing the class if the discussion derailed.

  30. Everything is fine as is. The only edit I would make is to rule #3, and to add the text “think before you speak”. It’s not-so-common sense, quite a few of my previous classmates answered their own questions, or made themselves look ignorant by not thinking things through before raising their hand.

  31. Personally I believe that you have done a great job creating the policies that you have and i think it is very constructive for the class to have these guidelines. I think that the only other thing i would recommend is wait for another classmate to finish their thought/what they have to say before feeling the need to interject or raise your hand. I do agree with Emile’s additional rule that every should raise their hand before speaking when the class is having a group discussion.

  32. I like rule #6. This rule express open minded which is essential for subjective/opposing views of different parties, groups, individuals, etc. I believe we will gain a greater depth of understanding from the many perspective views. The goal is to not agree, but that doesn’t mean I can deny what is true or false, a lack of understanding the situation can cause my perspective to lean towards one person’s view to another. In other words, I who haven’t felt what another person has felt or went through will have a lack of understanding of the situation of that person, I can only imagine.

  33. all the rules make sense. the one that I like the most is rule number 1 . everyone should respect one another. one way to show that is to listen to others while they’re talking even though we might disagree with one another.

  34. I am agree with all the rules. I think number #2 and # 4 are very important, as long as I keep the right track in the conversation o discussion. When I share personal experiences and I listen others experiences, it is a great opportunity of expand ours knowledgement.

  35. I believe that policy #6 is definitely the most important policy for everyone to follow because we will never be able to learn if we do not fully understand what is being shared with us. And it is definitely important to keep an open mind because we do not all think the same and it will help our classmates feel more comfortable to share in a judge free zone.

  36. I agree with all of the policies, especially number 1. It is important to respect others while they are speaking and listen to what they have to say. I also think that we should try to refrain from interrupting others when they are speaking, since people sometimes have the tendency to try and jump into their story without letting the other finish.

  37. I agree with rule #7 most likely because sometimes a certain sign, body language, or gesture may offend or have a certain meaning to another individual. Sometimes as I speak out loud, I may not be fully aware of my face gesture, and it can be interpreted differently. Is it still ok to talk about others experience, and generalize when is necessary?

  38. I like rule number 6 because you are not forcing other people to agree with your view point but instead you are allowing them to understand your view point and let them know where you are coming from.

  39. I strongly agree with the fourth policy. It is nice when everyone in class participates and prevents it from being slightly awkward when there are only a few people in class that take part in discussions. Having more people in discussions makes class fun, and allows different points of view to be expressed.

  40. I agree with rule number 2. There are so many times that people go and just go to a single person for the answer about an entire race or gender and expect them to know. A person should be asked about there own opinion and not the opinion of a nation.

  41. I want to add two rules: Please be considerate to others and don’t slam the classroom’s door when you are coming in or going out. It is disrespectful and distracting. Eating a heavy lunch with strong smells while class is in session should also be discouraged unless it’s necessary because not only it is distracting, but it can also trigger a headache for people who suffer from migraines.

  42. I agree with rule number six because, you cannot agree on something you have no knowledge about. So what is best to do is understand any situation in all fronts have a clear and deeper understanding before you are able to pass any judgement to the specific goal.

  43. I find all the rules to be quite interesting and wish all my classes made a point of coming up with subject related rules. My addition to this would be: Rule #8. Do not loose focus on the topic at hand. Don’t challenge someone because you think it will increase your participation grade. Challenge only to move the conversation along.
    Also Rule #9. Don’t be late.

  44. Rule #1 is a really important rule in class and also outside of class. I have seen many people either not listening to the person talking, or interrupting when someone is talking in real life conversation. It makes you lose respect to the speaker and listeners because you are not letting the speaker finish what they were talking about and the active listeners who want to hear what the speaker has to say. I tend to keep this rule in my head at all time when talking to people, so I can fully see in their perspective.

  45. I agree with rule number 6, I think that it is extremely important to understand an other persons view even if you might not agree with it. Although I might not agree with another persons opinion or view it’s important to have respect and trying to take it as an educational experience in seeing the other side of the topic or discussion.

  46. I Agree With Rule #5 because it is about empathy, and thus the best way to understand someone else’s story is to share our own. In the process, we can always learn something new and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes before speaking, This, doesn’t necessarily mean we should keep our opinion to ourselves, it just means that our discussions should be backed up with facts

  47. I agree with rule number 3 because most of the time one person is thinking something that another may also be thinking. Asking questions can open up new ideas for everyone to consider but personal attacks destroy the communication environment and don’t progress the flow of ideas.

  48. I feel like we should just be you, voice your opinions, go for it. There is nothing wrong with letting others know what/how you feel about the particular topic because we are all brought up differently; environmentally, socially, etc. I find that what our parents told/taught us doesn’t necessarily apply to another person in the room. Basically, just have fun in class by being open.

  49. I like all the rules. but, the one that I like the most is rule number1. we have to respect one another. the way to show that is to listen to others while they are talking. we don’t to agree with each other. sometimes we have to disagree to agree and we have to do it in a respectful manner.

  50. Mehak Rizvi on August 31, 2015 at 10:09 am said:

    I have carefully read all of the ground rules provided above. I agree with all of them. Because I found all of them necessary to enhance a easy going and comfortable class environment. My favorite rule is #6 ” The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding.” I think this is an open invitation to raise your questions and concerns while not feeling weird. It is our right not to agree with everything that is being said. Everyone has their own perspectives based on their religion or culture. So it is always good to raise questions about something that we are not agree with or having trouble to understand something.

  51. I appreciate the value of respect because after we can respect each other everything else can happen in a positive manner. I also like rule number 7 because many times we react to things with body language and our reaction can be more exaggerated than we mean so its great you remind us to make that conscious decision to be careful not just our verbal response so that respect can be kept.

  52. 6. The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding.
    I like this policy. I strongly believe that all people should try to practice this. No one has to agree or disagree but try to understand why, how and what people do. What is the reason for it. How did I come to this. There is no need for I to be right all the time. You do not have to agree but just listen and try to understand. Why do people have to be right all the time?

  53. I appreciate the importance of respect because after we can be respectful to each other, everything else falls into place. I also like rule number 7 because sometimes our actions can get out of hand before we realize it and a reminder like that gives us a chance to correct things without causing offense.

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