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.




44 thoughts on “Policies

  1. I think Policy #1 is a great policy. Sometimes “I” am unaware of generalizing by saying “they,” “we,” and “you.” Generalizing can provoke a discomfort amongst a group because, one may not agree or come to terms with whatever is being said.

    • Thanks for responding Kim. You raise a good point– not only is generalizing disrespectful, you can also lose credibility with your audience. Speaking from your own perspective is always more powerful than making assumptions about others, not matter how good your intentions might be.

  2. I love Rule number 3. The reason why I like rule number 3 so much because from pass experience listening to other people stories and asking a few questions I have learned so much. There is nothing wrong with a healthy debate on a topic. What people do need to be mindful of when you know you are talking about a certain topic that might be sensitive is the tone of your voice and body language when asking the question. You do not want to come across as if you are trying to change the person opinion or be disrespectful.

    • Thanks Nyasia- Questions will always generate more meaningful experiences than personal attacks ever will. It’s an important skill to have developed for after college life. Tone and body language are also very powerful. I hope that everyone feels safe when communicating in class and online.

  3. After re-reading these policies I did not feel that there was anything more I can add. There were two that really stood out to me and that was #2 and #5. I feel that no two people are the same and everyone is different in their own way. It is not fair to generalize people. To me #5 is very important because it says how we should not try to change someone else’s story but share your own story. When ever someone tries to put a spin on what I say I always find it extremely frustration!.

    • Thanks Michelle-
      #2 is is one of my favorites and I appreciate what you’ve noted about #5. When others try to take your stories and make it their own or tell how your perspective was inaccurate, not only is it very frustrating, it can be hurtful, ruin trust, and make others feel disrespected. You are the expert on you and that will always be true.

  4. Policy number 2 is one of my favorites. Usually in many of my past classes people wouldn’t speak out of their own experiences. This can cause a serious problems and tension between classmates. Speaking out of you’re own experience helps maintain a healthy environment for the class. As the professor said using “i” in a sentence than using “you” people sounds a lot more professional. Following these percaustions can help classmates feel respected and safe during class.

    • Adam- this is exactly what I aim for. Students should feel safe, respected, and heard. It is validating to read that you share the same idea and I hope you look forward to sharing your point of view in class, on OpenLab and in your written work.

  5. I do not have any rules to add, but I do think #6 is a great one. We are not going to all agree all the time, but it is important that we all feel like we can share information without being made to feel our ideals or opinions are “invalid”. At the end of any discussion it is important to recognized having “heard” the other speaker’s thoughts, and respectfully agree or disagree.

    • Thanks for your response Ron. Every voice is so important to include in our discussions this semester. No point is invalid, and it is not up to us to decide that about one another. I hope that you feel safe in expressing your viewpoints in this course– they are welcomes and automatically assumed valid 🙂

  6. It is refreshing to see a set of ground rules addressing communication, and listening to our peers.Too often they are overlooked, forgotten, or ignored. I believe if these are followed perhaps some students that may otherwise be intimidated speaking in front of others, may feel more comfortable knowing that we are consciously aware of basic courtesies.

    • Thanks for your response Karil. I look forward to participation from all students in the class as well as on OpenLab. These ground rules can also be applied to written work. My goal is for everyone to feel safe in expressing themselves and exploring a new, sensitive, topic.

  7. I agree with all the policies and I really like the 2nd policy “2.Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (“I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”).”
    Because a person can not speak for someone else, and when they speak from their perspective, it becomes more relatable and honest.
    I also want to add that maybe electronics shouldn’t be allowed in the class unless its related to what we are discussing in class and if its an emergency.

    • Thanks for pointing this out- electronics in the classroom are always discouraged. I dislike having to take time away from our meetings to police the students in the class regarding their electronics-etiquette. I appreciate you speaking out about this and I hope that your peers value this idea as well. Also– policy #2 is also one of my faves 🙂

  8. These rules form a very strong foundation for the class. I really appreciate the fact that it covers a lot of worries that people usually have when entering a new class where they don’t have anyone they know in. As it allows for people to openly express their opinions without getting scrutinized for it (however constructive criticism is always welcome). One of the rules that really popped out to me is rule 6, which focuses on understanding a persons opinion rather than blindly agreeing on it. This popped out to me as it really shows that instead of taking a persons opinion at face value one should always really understand the meaning of those words from that person.

    • Thanks Peter- I’m glad that these rules are encouraging to you and hope that you will contribute to our classroom discussion regularly. As a class we will be too busy scrutinizing applications of psychological science to scrutinize one another. Our understanding of the topic will be deeper, not unanimous. Glad you see the value in that already.

  9. My abilities to participate in a class environment are very poor. I am the type of person who likes to observe, learn and improve a given idea or thought from the surroundings. I rather not speak if I know nothing productive will come out of my mouth. As some of us may know, an individual who speaks multiple languages is an asset but knowing when to stay quite is a skill.

    • You raise an important part Javier- not everyone is confident in their ability to participate in the classroom. I hope this class serves as a training grounds, or a place where you might practice some of these skills. It also sounds like you are thoughtful and think before you speak. That’s very important. This course will over you many opportunities (both in and outside of class) to voice your perspective and these include OpenLab and written assignments. I look forward to reading more of your commentary (in English please, because most unfortunately I am not multi-lingual)

  10. After reading all the rules I did not feel like I need to add any more rules and among all the rules I like the second rule which said we have to speak from our own experience. I think when we will speak about own experience it will be more consistent and truthful.

  11. After carefully going over the policies, I think they are an excellent idea for the classroom. My favorite policy is # 3 because it focuses on discussing ideas. Having a set of policies like these ends up helping everyone, because without them many conversations are not as productive. In addition to these rules, I would add that it is always important to try to see things form someone else’s point of view.

    • Ideas– everyone has one right?! I’m glad you see the value in have some guidelines for how we might discuss our personal views among others with diverse viewpoints. You are absolutely correct in that we need to foster empathy so that others might not only be heard, but understood as well.

  12. I feel like these rules should be incorporated in all class settings, not just in this particular class. Rule #1 serves the student and others, #2 & #5 breaks the ice by having you to open up by share your own experience and having an open mind, #3 is crucial to have a civilized discussion and it sets the tone for the class which is very similar to Rule #6, which is the goal of the class “not to agree”, #4 & 7 would give the student a sense of belonging in a group, awareness of their surroundings and body language.

    • Thank you. I appreciate you viewed each policy as serving different functions in the classroom. You are encouraged to bring this set of policies along with you going forward, whether it be classroom or professional settings.

  13. I think the policies you have already set are more than enough to create a healthy environment for discussion if followed correctly. Policy 2 is the most important to me using my own experiences to discuss specific topics is very helpful when speaking on issues like race and culture, where it can be very easy to generalize and offend others. I also think people sometimes tend to extrapolate single experiences (especially there own experiences) to be evidence of how most feel or are evidence which can be very anecdotal. I look forward to hearing what my fellow students have to say.

    • Excellent feedback. We will explore how science can support or refute anecdotal knowledge and the role that power and perspective play in this unique relationship. I look forward to learning from your personal experiences.

  14. In my opinion, all the rules listed above are great for the classroom. I would also add the fact that each individual should be mindful/respectful of the the personal details (stories) shared within the class. These stories should not be later used against the student in a harmful manner. Listening and being respectful when sharing your opinion is always key to any discussion. This would allow everyone to feel comfortable and respected which, in return will help in the debate of a topic not getting out of hand. With these guidelines, i believe the class will be very fun and entertaining to each and every individual student.

  15. If I were to create a policy, I would say policy number seven is the best. At the point when is comes to non-verbal communication, in some cases, individuals don’t know about how it may influence their classmates. It sometimes leads to misunderstandings and shows what can not be said it words through our face expressions. I love every one of the policies yet policy number seven happens to be my top pick.

  16. In my point of view rules are needed in all part of the world. In this case the rules for this class are fair enough for all of us. I personally don’t rules yet I still follow them in order to show respect to others. I like rule number 5 it caught my attention , I think sometimes I tend to that without even knowing it. I learn something new! So far I like this class , I love the positive attitude that the professor has it keeps me awake and want to learn more 🙂

  17. Of all, I liked policy # 6 the most; it is my favorite because each person is different from one to the other. We are our own individual, therefore we all have different opinions, it is very important to respect how others think and see things differently from us. Environments shape identities and we all come from different places and have differences backgrounds, ways of living and experiences make us think different from other people. All these policies have a relation to one another. We must listen to others carefully, it shows respect and then challenge that person asking questions with the intent to understand the person more thoroughly, and finally give our opinion whether we agree or not, conscious of our body language, just to make sure we do not bother anyone.

  18. I am the type of person who just observes, take notes and speaks when i am able to relate to a topic. With number 3 I feel like it’s tricky. EVEN if we focus on the topic , when one speaks from a personal experience little things can offend a person. Even if the other person doesn’t mean harm, personal things are touchy. I feel like people should talk from personal experience if they are open to here question about it and open to speak about it . Don’t talk about a personal experience if it is a topic too too personal.
    With the other policies I feel like it’s awesome. It’s important that everyone feels comfortable and safe. These polices have created the beginning to a very different but great learning environment. I feel safe already and really hope I can be more open this semester.

  19. The seven rules are very important and meaningful in order to have healthy conversations among us. I feel that everything is already being said but I will like to add only one thing. When having an online discussion I think that we need to be very careful on the way we are writing because everyone can give a different interpretation to our words. For example the use of all capital letters or exclamatory symbols (!!!!) can be normal for some of us but some people can understand it as if we are yelling at them.

  20. To me rule #2 stood out the most, generalizing your own experience can cause conflict among classmates or make classmates feel uncomfortable. “I” believe that we all think different; have different ways of seeing things, and we all have different experiences. I also believe that we all need to speak from our own experience. I also like rule #3, I feel that it will engage me and my classmates in asking questions and sharing ideas in class, from my past experience I have learned more from students asking questions and collaborating in conversations.

  21. My favorite rule is #6 The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding. People always feel that they must be right and refuse to understand the other persons point of view or feelings toward the subject. At least we will be able to agree to disagree.

  22. I agree with the above list of ground rules and would also like to add the fact that the stories shared within this course should remain confidential and should not be used to attack or bully anyone. Many will tend to share their opinions and comments/stories as they feel it is a safe place. breaking this can alter the confidence of the individual sharing his/her comments and can affect the way they look at the topics and in return affect his/her learning. Listening actively and sharing your comments in a respectful manner is always key to any discussion. Following these rules and guidelines will result in better discussions

  23. I agree with all of the policies listed above, however numbers one and five stood out to me. I strongly believe number one should always be enforced. I say this because respect, is in my opinion, a social norm. How one portrays themselves to others can either gain them respect, or lose respect. If someone is on their phone that is disrespectful, and shows they are not listening at all. For number five, this should be more enforced in any type of social environment. By saying someones story is invalid, or if someone is changing their words, that is not only wrong in a common sense, but it can hurt someones feelings. I think a main goal in a class like this would be to be very open minded.

  24. There is nothing that I would change. I definitely agree with #3 because we, as a group, is here to learn and grow (which is the reason why I also agree with #6) and should have the ability to express ourselves from different perspectives as everyone have different viewpoints based on their experiences. No one should feel like they are being attacked as that create problems.

  25. I can not add any other rule because i see all these rules perfect for a class setting. Especially rule #1 actively listening to others which you are showing respect but also your helping yourself because you can learn something new everyday just by listening. Also rule #4 Performing your fullest ability if you never perform your fullest ability you will never know what your capable of and i also see this not as a class rule but as a life rule as well.

  26. i like all the rules mentioned above. But the one i like the most is the rule # 2 “Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing (“I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you”). Sometimes people talk about the groups that could get offended and also can create an usual dispute. in addition to that i also like the rule # 7 “Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses — they can be as disrespectful as words” i found this rule to be an important as will in a respected manners since it keeps the class atmosphere in peace.

  27. All of the above rules are appropriate for the class. however i did like the # 1 rule that is Listen actively — respect others when they are talking. I am sure this is a very important rule for any format of the class since this can impact on your grades. If we aren’t active in the class we may miss some important notes that may lead us skipping that part in exam. and also rule # 3 Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks — focus on ideas. this can make the class very interesting.

  28. i don’t have anything else to add at this moment. As Christian said all these rules are perfect for any class. In regards to policy # 7, i think it is very rude for someone to act like a child by doing any type of body languages while somebody is trying to express their opinions.

  29. The policies given here cover all the grounds I can think of that would provide us with a great learning environment. One policy I particularly liked is policy #5 which was about speaking about your own stories rather than invalidating someone else’s. Nobody knows what the other person really went through, and it is not our place to challenge their personal life stories nor force them to see it from our perspective by questioning theirs. Everyone has their own outlook and opinions and we all have to respect that. Like Confucius said-‘Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you’.

  30. I like rule number 6 “The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding”. Many things are subjective, what is right, wrong, correct, or incorrect etc for one, may not be for another. Everyone thinks in different ways, and differences in opinion occur all the time. While we may not think alike, we should still be open to listen to others even if it contradicts our own opinions. You never know what another person knows, or whats experiences or knowledge they have. If we keep our minds and ears open, we never know what we might learn and gain from doing so.

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