Standard Course Information

Much goes into an academic course that can be left to lie in the area of unspoken assumptions or expectations. In my courses, I try as much as possible to avoid this dynamic and make expectations as clear as possible.

This page is the primary clearinghouse for this kind of material. You should, of course, always consult the syllabus and any other supplementary instruction documents the syllabus or Canvas might point you to. But for ease of access and reference, I’ve tried to collect here into a “one stop shop” as much as is feasible.

General Guidelines and Expectations

Before Your Course

Before your course starts, please go to the syllabus page in your course site (sometimes titled “Syllabus and Assignment Instructions,” “Syllabus and Other Materials,” or “Syllabus and Policies”), and read the information contained there so that you can refer back to it as needed throughout the course. If you are not familiar with your institution’s learning management system (e.g., Blackboard, Moodle, Google Apps Sites), please review the appropriate technical tutorials, paying special attention to those covering the topics of discussion board interaction and assignment submission. To ensure that you will have the necessary time and other resources to devote to the course, once you have examined the course’s requirements, please carefully assess these requirements within the context of your other academic, occupational, and personal commitments and any other situational constraints.

During Your Course

During your course, you should work in accordance with the following assumptions and expectations.

Doing Your Best and Making That Better

Intentionally devote yourself to the course as an act of obedience to God’s calling, do your utmost to honor him with it, and understand course assessments—even those that might happen to be less favorable than you would ideally desire—within this larger framework. Despite my mentioning this last element, I have every confidence in your ability to do well in our courses together. I explicitly mention this point, however, because it emerges from personal experience as a student and an instructor.

Not seeing the results I wanted for a given assessment was always one of the biggest obstacles to—but also one of the biggest opportunities for growth and formation in—referring coursework to God’s honor as an act of obedience to his calling. That you have done your best work always helps make your submissions as strong as they can be, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into any particular letter grade or letter grade range.

That is, as in life outside this class, that you or I do our best sometimes does and sometimes doesn’t meet the standard against which our work is assessed as well as we would like. When it does, we can rejoice and give thanks that our labors have proven fruitful. Especially when it doesn’t, however, we need to be careful to avoid feeling entitled to a different result because we tried really hard and instead look to what we might have done differently or how we can improve our efforts in similar situations in the future.

Time Zones

Unless explicitly stated otherwise,

  • All times specified in your course materials (e.g., for assignment deadlines) refer the time zone for Faulkner University’s main campus (i.e., Central Standard or Central Daylight time depending on the time of year).
  • All assignments are due at 11:59 pm on their respective due dates.

Checking Your School Email

Regularly review your class’s announcements and school email for important communications, announcements, or assignment feedback. Each week, I will send an announcement with our agenda for the week and any other housekeeping items that need to be noted.

How to Communicate with Me

Regard me as your first point of contact for any instructional issues you may encounter during a course we have with each other. For technical issues, you should contact the appropriate helpdesk personnel.

When you communicate with me, you should do so with the same honesty that you would want me to exhibit if our situations were reversed. I am always delighted to have additional interaction with you, but especially in largely asynchronous online communication modes (e.g., threaded discussions, emails), the lack of nonverbal communication makes all the more important your initiating additional interaction if you think it would prove beneficial.

Please feel free to call me simply “David” or “[Mr./Prof./Dr.] Stark,” whatever is most comfortable for you. Email is my preferred default communication method, and I will respond to your message within two business days.

If it should prove helpful in a given instance, instead of emailing, we can find a convenient time to talk on the phone or over Zoom. To send start scheduling a live meeting with me, begin a new meeting request in Google Calendar, and find a time that is open on my calendar and that works for you as well.

Respecting Your Classmates

I will always devote the necessary time to answering your questions, but if you repeatedly ask questions that have already been answered or ask questions that are not clear enough to answer the first time around, answering your question(s) will, to that extent, necessarily delay or impede my interaction with your fellow students.

So, please respect your fellow students by

  • communicating courteously,
  • reviewing the syllabus and other course instructions for answers that have already been provided before contacting me with a procedural question, and
  • clearly and concisely stating any questions that you have when contacting me.

Feedback on Assignment Drafts

Recognize that, simply because of the time involved, I cannot provide substantive feedback on preliminary writing assignment drafts (e.g., presubmission versions of an essay). If you have a specific question about work you are doing for a writing assignment, as always, I am happy to try to help and clarify.

For substantive feedback about your writing, however, you should request assistance from TutorMe through Canvas or ACE. However “good” or “bad” you think your writing is, you’ll almost certainly benefit from having someone look it over and give you feedback.

How to Submit Assignments

Submit assignments promptly via their specified submission methods. Unless explicitly noted otherwise, the submission must be made within Canvas rather than by email, and all the material for a given submission must be included in a single file.

For assignments that require you to transmit text, files, or other information, you are solely responsible for ensuring that

  • you transmit the proper content to fulfill the assignment,
  • your content will be conveniently identifiable as yours when I retrieve it (e.g., by placing your name in the submission), and
  • your content is successfully transmitted or otherwise stored in Canvas for my retrieval.

How I Understand Material You Submit

When you submit an assignment, I understand that you have fully comprehended the assignment’s instructions and have already addressed with me any points of confusion you might have about them. I also understand this submission to represent your best work for that assignment and will assess the submission as such. These conventions hold whether you submit the assignment early, on time, or late.

Extensions on Assignments

Should you have a valid reason to submit an assignment late, with rare exceptions, contact me at least one business day before that assignment’s submission deadline and clearly identify why you believe you should be allowed to submit the assignment late without penalty. An extension must be requested for each affected assignment individually. Whether to grant an extension request and how much of an extension to grant will be at my sole discretion.

If you are substantively hindered from requesting an extension before the assignment’s submission deadline, you must do so within 7 days after that deadline.

Requests for extensions more than 7 days past an assignment’s submission deadline will automatically be denied. Irrespective of whether a full 7 days has lapsed since the assignment’s submission deadline, requests for extensions made after the term has closed will also automatically be denied. In no case should you hope to receive an extension unless you have requested one and I have approved that request.

If you are assigned to reply or respond to work from a particular classmate (e.g., a major essay draft) and that draft is not submitted on time, your deadline for submitting your reply or response will automatically be extended by the number of days your classmate’s work was late. If the draft becomes so late that you feel it will begin impinging upon your ability to create as good of a response as you would like, you should email me to 

  • confirm this fact and 
  • identify a different classmate who has already submitted work to which you would like to reply or respond. 

If you are assigned to reply or respond to work from any given classmate (e.g., discussion boards), your deadline for submitting your reply or response will automatically be extended by the number of days during which you had no classmates’ work to reply or respond to.

If no classmate submits work for you to use as a basis for your reply or response within 7 days of the scheduled due date for that assignment, you will not need to supply a reply or response to it. Instead, I will increase the grade weight of a related component by the weight originally assigned to your reply or response to your classmate (e.g., increasing a discussion board post weight to include the weight for a reply you are unable to submit). In this case, for some assignment types, Canvas may still show separate grade columns for the different components (e.g., a response to a classmate’s major essay draft and your own major essay). But if so, I will enter the same total in both columns so that the calculation of your overall course grade will happen properly.

Grading Turnaround Time

Anticipate that I will have graded all on-time assignment submissions within 7 days of that assignment’s due date, unless otherwise noted. When I have return your submission for a particular graded component, Canvas will notify you of this fact. I will grade late submissions and submissions made to meet extended deadlines as promptly as possible, but since these submissions fall, by definition, outside the normal grading rotation, I cannot guarantee a 7-day turnaround for them.

The standard 7-day grading window does not apply to biblical language proficiency examinations. For these examinations, the turnaround time may be up to 21 days. Since I allow significant latitude for when you and your proctor can schedule a given examination, I cannot know ahead of time when you will take your examination. Therefore, I will need to work grading your examination in around other commitments, hence the longer turnaround time to accommodate busier times during the year.

Grading Methodology

Subject to any applicable rubrics or other grading conventions specific to particular assignments, you can expect that

  • For more objectively-assessable assignments and components (e.g., multiple-choice examinations, writing assignment lengths), the resulting grade will reflect as best as possible the portion of that assignment or component that was satisfactory. I will assign a letter grade based on the tabulated point value for the assignment. Thus, for instance, a percent grade of 86.00% would yield a B letter grade based on the expanded grade scale.
  • For more subjective assignments and components (e.g., forum posts, essays, compositional issues), the resulting grade will reflect as best as possible how far above or below average (a grade of “C”) that particular assignment or component stands. I will give these assignments a letter grade that the expanded grade scale correlates with a given point value. Thus, a letter grade of A- would yield a percent value of 91.50%.

Percent value grades alone will be used in calculating the final letter grade for a course. Thus, assuming an examination on which you have an 86.00% and an essay on which you have a 91.5% are evenly weighted and assuming that these scores are your only grades for a course, your final grade would be 88.75% [= (86.00% + 91.50%) / 2], which would give you a B+ letter grade as your final course letter grade.

In keeping with general university practice, however, the Registrar will only tabulate the letter portion of the grade (B) and not any quality notations (+/-) in calculating your program GPA.

No extra-credit assignments will be available. For other assessment information, please see Faulkner’s graduate catalog.

Multiple Submissions for Assignments

If you make multiple submissions on a given assignment (e.g., because you realized only after submitting your file that it was the wrong version), I will only grade one file.

To ensure you have the best version of your submission graded, therefore, you should be sure to submit that version and only that version. If you submit multiple versions, the version you want to have graded might be the one that gets graded, but it also might not.

Hardware and Software Requirements

The following linked lists of computer hardware and software that you will need for each or many seminars across the curriculum at KGST. You should, therefore, ensure that you have ready access to all these tools and resources.

Hardware

  1. Webcam
  2. Microphone

Software

  1. Microsoft Word 2019. You may obtain Word 2019 as a stand-alone program, as part of the Office suite, or as part of an Office 365 subscription. Through your (or a family member’s) employer, you may even qualify for a discount through Microsoft’s Home Use Program.
  2. Keymaps that will allow you to type biblical language and text critical characters in Unicode.1 One set for Windows is available from Logos Bible Software and can be used whether you use Logos or not.2 To start using this set of keymaps, you can walk through this setup guide. From Mac users, I welcome input about what keymaps have proven most convenient and will be sure to share that with future Mac-using students.

Writing Resources

You will need the following writing resources for each seminar across the curriculum at KGST because they are necessary for understanding and properly applying the writing style of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). You should, therefore, ensure that you have ready access to all of these tools and resources.

  • Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-87779-809-5 
  • Nogalski, Melanie Greer, James D. Nogalski, Sophia G. Steibel, and Danny M. West. Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, Second Edition. Edited by Joel M. LeMon and Brennan W. Breed. Rev. ed. Atlanta: SBL, 2015. 
  • SBL Handbook of Style: Explanations, Clarifications, and Expansions.” Weblog. SBL Press. 
  • Schwertner, Siegfried M. Internationales Abkürzungsverzeichnis für Theologie und Grenzgebiete. 3rd ed. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2014. Choice of paperback (ISBN: 978-3-11-020576-3) or hardback (ISBN: 978-3-11-020575-6).3 
  • Society of Biblical Literature. The SBL Handbook of Style. 2nd ed. Atlanta: SBL, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-58983-964-9 or ATLA Religion Database with ATLA Serials 
  • Stark, J. David. “SBL Style Checklist.” J. David Stark, 2019. 
  • Stark, J. David. Secrets of SBL Style: What You Need to Know That Hides in Plain Sight. J. David Stark, 2019.4 
  • Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. Edited by Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. FitzGerald. 9th ed. Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018. ISBN: 978-0-226-43057-7 
  • University of Chicago Press. The Chicago Manual of Style. 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. ISBN: 978-0-226-28705-8

Live Seminar Meetings

For courses in the Kearley Graduate School of Theology (KGST), attendance at all scheduled live sessions carries special importance for your interaction with the course’s content and with the other members of your class. Typically, accredited PhD programs in biblical or theological fields will require students’ physical presence at the institution. The same is sometimes also true of MA programs.

KGST’s program is distinctive in allowing you to complete your degree without relocating or regular travel to the Montgomery area. But KGST believes live interaction remains an essential component of quality graduate or postgraduate education. This value is shared by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), which accredits KGST.

Consequently, attendance at all live seminar meetings is mandatory. These meetings occur in Zoom on days where the syllabus’s course calendar indicates a “live seminar meeting.” But outside these scheduled meeting times, you can work on the course at the time(s) of day that best suit your schedule within the boundaries of the specified deadlines.

How to Use Your Webcam and Microphone during a Live Seminar

Webcam

You are expected to have your webcam on throughout our live seminar meetings to help enhance our communication and interaction. If you do not have a webcam connected or have one but do not have it on, you may be considered absent from the meeting.

Microphone

During a live seminar meeting, you should turn your microphone on and off according to whether you are speaking or listening. Doing so helps minimize unnecessary background noise or echo on the line.

Live Seminar Recording Policy

Live seminar meetings will be recorded. These recordings will primarily be kept on file for your reference if you want to re-watch part of the meeting or if you need to make up a missed seminar as described below. Recordings from prior classes may also be used in other contexts including, but not necessarily limited to, independent or individualized studies.

What Missing a Live Seminar Means

Live sessions are considered to be missed if you are

  • not connected to the session,
  • you are connected to the session but your webcam is not connected or is turned off,
  • connected to the session but are apparently asleep, or
  • connected to the session but are otherwise not able or willing to participate actively during the session.

In either of the last two cases of live session absences, you may be administratively removed from the video conference session and need to reconnect. You will be responsible for making up the missed portion of the session according to this policy.

Unexcused absences from live sessions or absences that are excused but are not made up will reduce your final course grade by the percentage of live seminar time you have missed. So, for example, if a course has 30 hours of live seminar time and you miss 5, your final course grade will be reduced by 16.67% (= 5 ÷ 30).

Live Seminar Makeup Policy

In extenuating circumstances, a given live meeting may be missed. But whenever possible (excluding, e.g., serious and sudden emergencies), you should excuse for missing a particular live meeting before that meeting’s scheduled start time. Excuses for live meetings are handled similarly to extensions for assignments.

If your request to be excused from a live meeting is approved, you must make up your missed participation in that meeting in order to be counted present for the session. This make up process entails completing all of the following steps:

  1. Review the live session’s archived recording and follow along in this recording with any handouts to which the meeting’s discussion may be indexed (e.g., lectures, classmate’s papers).
  2. Write a 300-word interaction for each hour of the live session that you missed. So, for example, if you missed 5 hours, you would need to write a 1500-word interaction (= 5 × 300) to be counted fully present for that portion of the seminar.

Your written interaction with the live session recording must

  • Discuss the content provided during the live meeting.
  • Interact with the discussion among the meeting’s live participants (e.g., additional questions asked and responses given).
  • Identify some further point(s) that helps extend the content and discussion in the live meeting but was not mentioned there. If your own body of knowledge does not extend beyond what was covered in the discussion, you may need to do some minor research to satisfy this requirement.

Once you have completed your written interaction with the video, you must post this document in the “Live Session Makeups” discussion board forum. Your document is due there one week from the time the missed live meeting recording(s) become available in Canvas. If this document is not available by that time, your interaction with the session will be treated in accordance with the late assignment policy.

Assignment Length Policy

Rationale

The need to meet specific length requirements is a necessary part of writing in biblical studies even outside the confines of academic degree programs. Monograph, journal, or periodical submissions that fall outside the acceptable range for that venue can easily be returned for additional editing or rejected wholesale.

Because of this fact, the vast majority of your assignments have definite length parameters specified. And submitting material falls outside these parameters (whether by being too short or too long) will results in corresponding reductions that material’s grade.

Applicable Material

Front and back matter (e.g., title page, table of contents, bibliography, TutorMe feedback) do not count toward an assignment’s length requirement, even if they must be numbered according to particular local formatting conventions. The assignment’s main text, headers, footers, footnotes, and appendices do count toward this length requirement.

How to Apply Different Kinds of Assignment Length Measurements

Unless otherwise specified in your institution’s applicable catalogs and handbooks or in your course syllabus, the following conventions assignment will be applied to assessing assignment lengths of various kinds.

Numbers of Pages

For assignments of a specific number of pages (e.g., 8), the page length requirement refers to that number of full pages and only this number of full pages. For instance, for an 8-page essay to fulfill its length requirement, the last word of the essay must appear somewhere on page 9. Thus, the essay would fill 8 pages, but it would not exceed page 9.

Similarly, for assignments a “half-page” long, the length requirement refers to a full half page. Thus, the assignment would conclude somewhere in the second half of the page on which it appears, but it would not exceed one full page.

Ranges of Pages

For assignments requiring a range of pages (e.g., 8–10), the minimum and maximum page length requirements both refer to that number of full pages. For instance, for an “8–10-page” assignment to fulfill its length requirement, the last word of the essay must appear: (1) somewhere on page 9, (2) somewhere on page 11, or (3) anywhere in between.

Numbers of Words

For assignments requiring a specific number of words, unless otherwise noted, the word length requirement is the minimum number of words for the assignment, but your assignment may be up to 10% or 100 words longer than this total, whichever is larger.

Almost all word processors will have a “Word Count” feature, often included under a menu like “Tools,” which will allow you automatically to calculate the number of words in a document. To find the number of words in a particular section, highlight that section using your computer’s mouse, and then run the “Word Count” tool.

For instance, for a “5000-word” assignment to fulfill its length requirement, the assignment’s total length must be 5000–5500 words (5500 words = 5000 words + 10%).

Ranges of Words

For assignments requiring a range of words (e.g., 500–600), the lower end of the specified range is the minimum number of words for the assignment. The upper end of the specified range is the maximum number of words for the assignment, subject to the convention described for assignments whose length is specified in Numbers of Words.

For instance, for a “500–600-word” assignment to fulfill its length requirement, the assignment’s total length must be 500–700 words (600 words + 100 words because 600 words * 10% < 100 words).

What to Expect with Overly Long or Short Assignments

If the assignment is short of its minimum required length, the assignment will be graded as is, and the percentage by which the assignment is short of this minimum length will be deducted from that assignment’s overall grade.

If the assignment is too long for its maximum allowed length, the assignment will be graded as is up to its maximum allowed length. The percentage by which the assignment overruns this length will then be deducted from that assignment’s overall grade.

For major essay draft presentations, the length of the draft will factor into the final presentation grade if

  • the draft is shorter than is required for the final project or
  • the presentation takes longer than its allotted time because the draft is overly long.

If your draft is overly long but you make your presentation within your allotted time, I will not deduct the draft’s length overage from the presentation grade. But you will also not receive comments on the portion of the draft that exceeds the final project’s maximum length.

Late Assignment Policy

Subject to your individual course’s applicable late assignment policy(ies), I will generally accept late work unless an assignment is so late that your course’s late policy specifies for it a grade of 0%.

Late assignments will have their final grade penalized by 5% per calendar they are day late. In determining the penalty to be assigned to a late assignment’s grade, any part of a calendar day late will count as a whole calendar day. For an examination, each additional 10 minutes of testing time beyond the limit specified for that examination will cause the examination to be counted as one calendar day late.

This late policy is, however, only in force until the end of the term as identified in the course syllabus or other applicable document(s). Any work submitted after the term has ended will automatically receive a grade of 0% unless an extension has been previously arranged for it during the term.

Academic Bibliography

Primary literature always provides good academic source material, although biblical texts are generally not included or counted in bibliographies.

Distinguishing between “academic” (or “scholarly”) and “popular” sources, however, is not always easy and can take some practice. But in general, an academic source will

  • be written, endorsed, or both by people with recognizable credentials in the writing’s field and who may currently hold positions at a higher educational institution. If you’re unfamiliar with a given person’s name, you might Google him or her to find more information and see what other publications and professional activities that person has had.
  • devote relatively more space to footnotes (or endnotes) and bibliographies. Not infrequently in academic sources, you will see side issues handled in a one- or two-paragraph footnote rather than simply seeing footnotes used for citing sources.
  • reflect a valid perspective within contemporary scholarship on a particular point. Some sources may have been good, scholarly ones for their time, but the particular subjects to which they speak have seen advances that have marginalized the value of this older scholarship.
  • appeal to broad audiences by concentrating on publicly available evidence and arguments (e.g., appeals to literature and history as such).
  • avoid loaded or derogatory language even when differing with another author.

These criteria are not hard-and-fast, but generally, good academic sources will exhibit these characteristics more clearly. Some representative non-academic sources are available in this handout.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious academic and ethical matter. Unless otherwise specified in your institution’s applicable catalogs and handbooks or in your course syllabus, if you are found to have committed plagiarism in any assignment during the semester, you will receive an “F” for the course and have any administrative action taken that is appropriate.

For a good summary of what plagiarism is and how to avoid it, please see the Council of Writing Program Administrators’ guide.

Other General Information

All written work must be formatted according to SBL style as articulated in its current authorities. All written work must be submitted in the designated place in Canvas and, unless otherwise indicated, in DOCX format. No work will be accepted by email. Work submitted in an improper location or file format may be considered absent until it is submitted properly. 

Once your course grade has been processed, you may access it through MyFaulkner. If you have difficulty logging in or viewing your final grade on this site, please contact the IT helpdesk for assistance.


  1. You will not need these keymaps if you are a MABS student taking a textual elective based on the English Bible. 

  2. Logos does not appear to provide an accessibility statement about their original language keyboards. 

  3. Depending on availability, either the paperback or the hardback may be more cost effective. Sometimes, copies of IATG3 will sell for hundreds of dollars. With a little shopping, however, you should be able to find one for less than $60. If you are unable to obtain a reasonably-priced copy of IATG3, you may (1) request this text via ILL at a library near you or (2) utilize the copy that the graduate school’s Kearley Resource Room has on file. To access information in the Kearley Room copy of IATG3, please use the “Ask-a-librarian” portal. In your question, note that it is a “KGST request,” and supply the full series or work titles for which you want to consult IATG3 for an abbreviation. Please note that the Kearley Room is only staffed about 10 hours weekly, so you should make any IATG3 request at least 72 hours ahead of when you need that request to be completed. 

  4. To supplement this guide, you may also want to download the condensed SBL style checklist