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Pieter Vandenberg

FAQ Overview
An FAQ, is a list of Frequently Asked Questions. This is just beginning. I will add to it as the term progresses. If you have a suggestion for something to add please contact me.

Prerequisite Enforcement

Do you enforce prerequisites for your classes?

I believe that prerequisites are important. Therefore you must have all prerequisites completed, with a passing grade, before you enroll in any of my courses. I am willing to consider a special situation under some circumstances, usually related to transfer classes. If you have a special situation please see me.

The important thing to remember about prerequisites is that you are responsible for knowing the material in those classes, not just that you have taken them. Prerequisites are the university's way of defining dumb questions. (Which is material you should already know before taking the class.) 

Grades and Grade Point Average

Do I have to get a C in every upper division class to graduate?

NO! You only have to get at least a C in Finance 323 if you are a finance major otherwise you only have to pass the class (get at least a D-). Unless there is a specific requirement, and very few classes have one, all other upper division classes only require that you get D-. There is one important thing though, to graduate you must have a C average in your major, over-all, and at SDSU, so you can't get a D- in everything and hope to graduate. So as long as you have high grades in some classes in order to offset the low grade you can graduate with a D- on your record. If you have a specific concern please go to the Undergraduate Business Advising Center of the College of Business.

One last thing, just because you only need to get a D- does not mean that I recommend that is what you should strive for. My recommendation is that you should always do the very best you can in every class. That should result in very few, if any D-'s and quite a few high grades.


What are the requirements for an incomplete grade?

An incomplete can only be earned if the catalog requirements are strictly met. In most cases this requires that you have completed enough of the assignments that I can determine that you could pass if you make up the missing work and the reason for missing the work is acceptable.

The following is from the catalog:

    The symbol "I" (incomplete authorized) indicates that a portion of required coursework has not been completed and evaluated in the prescribed time period due to unforeseen, but fully justified, reasons and that there is still a possibility of earning credit. It is your responsibility to bring pertinent information to the instructor and to reach agreement on the means by which the remaining course requirements will be satisfied. The conditions for removal of the Incomplete shall be reduced to writing by the instructor and given to you with a copy placed on file with the department chair until the Incomplete is removed or the time limit for removal has passed. A final grade is assigned when the work agreed upon has been completed and evaluated.

    An Incomplete shall not be assigned when the only way you could make up the work would be to attend a major portion of the class when it is next offered. Contract forms for Incomplete are available at department offices.

Further information can be found at: http://arweb.sdsu.edu/es/catalog/quickref.html

WU Grade

How can I get a "WU" grade?

You can't if you remain in the class. You will receive an A through F grade (unless you qualify for an incomplete) if you stay in the class. You have two weeks (regular semester) to decide whether you want to stay, by that time I will deem that you have been required to do enough work for me to assign a grade. If you stay past the drop date you are in the class "for real" and will get a "real" grade as the following section from the catalog states:

    The symbol "WU" indicates that you enrolled in a course, did not withdraw from the course, but failed to complete course requirements. It is used when, in the opinion of the instructor, the number of completed assignments or course activities or both were insufficient to make possible a normal evaluation of academic performance. For purposes of grade point average computation, this symbol is equivalent to an "F."

    If you attend a portion of a course and then, after receiving failing grades, stop attending without officially withdrawing, you should normally receive a final grade of "F" and not "U."

Further information can be found in the: SDSU Catalog

Calculator Policy

Can I use a calculator during an exam?

The calculator must have less than 256 kb of addressable memory. Which means it must be a calculator, not a computer. Therefore a single standard calculator including financial ones are allowed (but no portable computers or PDA's). For Finance 323 a financial calculator is required.

Unless specifically told otherwise, you are not allowed to use crib sheets during exams, the form of the crib sheet does not matter so no written or electronic crib sheets. Thus you are not allowed to program into your calculator anything that could be used during the exam, this includes, but not limited to, formulas, equations, notes etc. You are allowed to use any preprogrammed functions built into the calculator, e.g. Financial functions, log functions etc.


Recording Policy

Can I use a recording device during class?

The use of recording devices, such as, but not limited to, cameras of any type, video or voice recorders, during class time is prohibited without my specific permission.


Granting Accommodations:

How do you decide whether to modify a class requirement?

From time-to-time a few students find themselves in a situation where they may contact me to ask about an accommodation of some type. It is hard to predict what this might be. But they range from relatively mundane to very significant. How do I decide whether to grant an accommodation? After many years dealing with both students (and people in general) I have discovered that serious, productive, goal driven, people somehow don't seem to need accommodating very often, if ever. Very seldom does a "serious student" seem to contact me with such a request. Seriousness of purpose can be defined in a variety of ways. It can, as an example, be measured by a grade, I have noticed that very few "A" students seem to request an accommodation. Being prepared and coming to class is another measure of seriousness. This does not take the brain power, it simply takes effort and discipline. What are some characteristics of "non-serious" students: not being prepared, arriving for class late and/or leaving early, missing class, not keeping appointments and/or not seeking an appointment when it's appropriate, last minute requests, failure to accept responsibility for their choices, and constantly asking for accommodations. I will stop the list at this point, but you get the idea--in the vernacular it might be termed: "being a flake."

Whether I will grant an accommodation depends on the nature of the request and the seriousness of purpose that I perceive in the student's behavior. Thus it is possible, that for the same request by two students, (at different times or the same time) that I might grant one request and deny another one. What do I look for to determine this? If you can't answer that read the first paragraph above again.



How do I set educational priorities, given how busy I am?

Everybody's day is exactly the same length (Ok, if you're an astronaut traveling at a very high rate of speed your day is a fraction of a second longer). We are all busy. I recently talked to a neighbor who retired 10 years age, his statement to me was: "I am so busy now, I can't figure out how I got it all done when I was working." So you can plan on being busy the rest of your life. Being busy is never an excuse for not accomplishing a task. We get done what we want to get done. So choose what you want to do and do it.

For the vast majority of you the formal education you are going through now will be your last. You probably will not have another chance to do this.  So if you set education to a low priority you will not have the time to learn and you will miss this (perhaps last) opportunity for an education, it is just that simple. What you will have is a list of excuses, but not an education.

Excuses for not learning are many, having been around educational institutions, in one way or another for almost 60 years I think I have heard every excuse for not learning. {What's my favorite? It was student who phoned (it was during the mid seventies as near as I can remember) with the excuse that he could not accomplish some task (I've forgotten what.) because he had been in a collision with an aircraft carrier and was in the hospital. I said: "sure you have." He said: "really, it will be on the six o'clock news." It was. Apparently he was sailing on the bay and got too close to a carrier and something hit his mast, broke it and it fell and injured him. He was interviewed in the hospital on the six o'clock news.} In spite of this very innovative excuse there are no good excuses for not learning.

See for yourself. Take the following multiple choice test (how college like--right?)

You are in need of a ________________________. You have a very serious need for ___________________. You decide to interview potential __________ to supply this service.

You can fill the blanks in with any (or all) of the following choices (respectively): (You can also make up your own choices.)

  • plumber, a drain repair, plumbers
  • medical doctor, surgery, doctors
  • contractor, a building remodeling, contractors
  • financial advisor, retirement planning, advisors
  • -or- fill in your own _______, ________, _______

You ask the potential candidates all the same questions about whether they learned to perform this service. Here are the response from 5 individuals:

    1. This individual says that on the day this was covered he was with his fraternity (ABS--Alpha Beta Surf) surfing. Fraternity membership has allowed him to make "lots of great contacts and friendships."

    2. This individual says that on the day this was covered his part-time job required that he work. After all he really needed this part -time job. During his education he had 7 part-time jobs and 4 internships. "All of them were great experiences."

    3. This individual says on the day this was covered a family obligation kept him from learning this material. "After all, nothing is more important than family."

    4. This individual says that on the day this was covered she was very sick, even had a note from a doctor. It was not her fault she was sick and got behind. But she feels better now. "After all nothing is more important than your health."

    5. This individual says: "I learned how to do it and I can do it--no excuses."

Choose the individual you want to perform the service: (1,2,3, 4, or 5)___________

Do you need the key to get the right answer? So the only thing you care about is the competence of the individual you are hiring, excuses don't matter.


Classroom Attendance Policy

Class attendance is important. Classroom lectures, discussion and interaction are not readily available in another format. Hence missing class significantly reduces educational content and value. If education was only about taking exams (which are mostly about assessment, not learning) or turning in assignments we could close universities and you could educate yourself or (e)mail in assignments. Given that universities have existed, in their current form, for 100's of years one can invoke the survivorship principle and conclude that there is something optimal about classroom attendance.

Therefore, a student who consistently/frequently misses all or part of a class will have their final grade lowered regardless of their scores on specific assignments or their over-all average on these assignments. Thus frequent absences could well result in a low or failing grade.


Ethical Standards

What are the expectations about ethics?

See the the statement on ethics on this site.


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© Copyright 2007 Pieter A. Vandenberg. All rights reserved.