David Thaw

University of Pittsburgh | 3900 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260 | dbthaw@pitt.edu


Class Policies


This section details class policies applicable to students enrolled in a class which meets regularly during a Fall or Spring academic semester, unless otherwise noted in class. These do not supercede policies listed in the syllabus for any given class, but are provided as a general reference point for all my students.

As a general rule, if you attend class, complete the assignments, respect your fellow students, and make reasonable attempts to address problems before they occur, I think you will find that I can be very responsive to your needs and accommodating to your learning goals.

That said, to maintain equity and fairness among all students, I am required to apply some general policies across-the-board:

  • Contacting Me (Email): the ability to contact your professor is a critical part of the education process. Email is by far the best and fastest method to reach me. Each class will have an email policy specified in the syllabus. This is to ensure that your emails do not get "lost in the shuffle." I generally also will inform you in the syllabus what your expected response time should be to emails (generally no less than 48 hours). It is your responsibility to plan accordingly if contacting me by email and to follow the email policy.
  • Urgent Matters: emergencies and other life matters happen. In an emergency, you should feel free to contact me by whatever method is best for you, but understand that in most such circumstances we will have to address the matter after you've resolved the emergency. You are of course welcome to try and reach me by phone or in person, but neither is more effective than email. I recommend including the fact that it is an emergency in the subject line (in adddition to any other tags). I do my best to be as accommodating as possible, subject to University Guidelines.
  • Accommodations: University Guidelines govern (and restrict) my ability to make accommodations for disabilities and religious observances. For all students, please contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services (DRS) for disability-related questions. University Policy prohibits me from making individualized accommodations without input from DRS. For matters related to religious observances, please refer to the policy of the School of Law or the School of Information Sciences (as applicable). Please contact me individually if you have questions beyond those policies, and I will work with you to make what accommodations I can within applicable guidelines.
  • Academic Integrity: I cannot adequately stress the importance of academic integrity, and in particular honesty. Each class will have a policy published in the syllabus. I enforce these policies very strictly. If you are having difficulty, please contact me. There often are things I can do to help in advance of a deadline or examination.
  • Electronic Devices: I generally allow electronic devices in class. I believe they can add substantially to the learning process, and am also aware that increasingly many students have spent the majority of their academic career typing rather than handwriting. I am also very aware of the ways in which this can become disruptive. All students in my classes are adults, and I will treat you as such -- if you distract yourself, that is to your own detriment. (In my experience there is a strong correleation between grades and attention in class.) That said, as an adult you must respect the experience of other students, and disruption of other students' learning experience or the class will not be tolerated.