AT: What Should You Expect?

Advanced Topics is offered each spring semester. The first half of the course is focused on an area of law that is in active discussion in the law, business and technology spaces. We have, in past semesters, taken a deep dive into antitrust law, intellectual property and privacy and surveillance, among others. The second half of the course focuses on twelve cases decided by SCOTUS in the previous term. The subject matter of these cases examines arbitration, first amendment, discrimination, immigration, presidential Immunity, trademarks and voting rights, among others.

The subject matter of the course is interesting, challenging and very timely. We will cover some very interesting topics that are particularly important in the economy of the 21st century. We will use a variety of digital platforms to engage with each other and the course materials. The course deliverables have included case analyses, case simulations and robust discussions of the issues as they affect law, business and technology

I will actively engage you through the use of the Socratic Method, both in class and during our discussions outside class. You will have a better sense of my class sessions after you read my perspective on Teaching and Learning.


Engagement, i.e., attendance, preparation, participation and successful, and timely, completion of course deliverables, is mandatory. You will not succeed in our course if you do not engage.

It’s that simple.

Your performance will improve if you attend class regularly, are well prepared AND participate effectively in the learning environment, whether F2F or digital.

Yes  … it IS that simple!

You are an important part of the team, including your professor and classmates, that create an effective learning environment. Your engagement in our course learning environment plays a significant role in my assessment of your performance, in other words, the grade you earn in our course. Our course will demand a substantial investment of time and effort and so will require a significant amount of preparation. You need to be self-motivated and stay on task in order to succeed. Dr. Jeffrey Bennett has developed some terrific “Hints on How to Succeed in College Classes” that I strongly suggest you review before we begin our course.

I will take attendance every time we meet in class. I will even take attendance if we have a class meeting in a virtual environment using a video conferencing platform. While our meetings will consist of both lectures and discussions, I am not a big fan of the “Sage on the Stage” model of teaching. Discussion will be the primary form of interaction in our course. Of course, those discussions will be both F2F and digital. We will use a variety of technology supported platforms to support or interactions, both in and out of class meetings. Your engagement in our digital discussions, whether enrolled in a F2F or web-based course, will also be an important part of my assessment of your performance.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to move to a fundamentally different set of delivery modalities, e.g., HyFlex, hybrid, remote, synchronous or unsynchronous or some combination of approaches to teaching and learning. We are increasingly working remotely in order to accomplish our work. That remote modality demands that we adjust our understanding of acceptable protocols for attendance and participation, whether a meeting or course attendance, engagement and participation.

While working together using a digital platform, e.g., Teams, Zoom, Slack, etc. it is important that you join the session with a live camera and muted mic. A live camera helps to create a sense of community and will help all of us to engage effectively during our discussions. If you only unmute your mic when speaking we can avoid feedback, unsolicited input from family, pets and others as well as any random noise. If you cannot be seen or heard by your classmates it will be difficult to actively engage in course meetings. That will have negative implications for your grade results. Please review the Protocols for Online Meetings and Classes for more information.

Remember … if you are consistently unprepared, or even underprepared, it will be very difficult to take full advantage of our course learning environment. That lack of engagement is a lost opportunity for you and will reflect poorly when I assess your performance.

The Engagement Rubric below has been adapted by Professor Sara Calhoun Davis from The Teaching Professor and forms the basis of assessment of your course engagement.

Engagement Rubric



C / D


Peer Interaction

Actively supports, engages, and listens to peers (ongoing)

Makes a sincere effort to interact with peers (ongoing)

Limited interaction with peers

Virtually no interaction with peers


Fully prepared for every aspect of the course

Mostly, if not fully, prepared (ongoing)

Preparation is inconsistent

Rarely or never prepared


Plays an active role in discussions (ongoing)

Participates constructively in discussions (ongoing)

When prepared, participates constructively in discussions

Comments vague if given; frequently demonstrates lack of interest

Contribution to Class

Comments advance level and depth of dialogue

Relevant comments are based on assigned material

When prepared, relevant comments are based on assignments

Demonstrates a noticeable lack of interest on occasion

Group Dynamics

Group dynamic and level of discussion are often better because of student’s engagement

Group dynamic and level of discussion are occasionally better, but not worse, because of student’s engagement

Group dynamic and level of discussion are sometimes disrupted by student’s engagement

Group dynamic and level of discussion are often disrupted by student’s engagement

You can influence my assessment of your course engagement in a positive way by
  • Becoming more active and/or making more effective comments that raise overall level of discussion and set examples for others, and
  • Asking thoughtful questions that will enhance discussion and engage peers, and
  • Listening carefully to, supporting, and engaging your peers in discussion. This will essentially improve others’ learning experience.
That said, you can also influence my assessment of your course engagement in a negative way if you
  • Do not engage in the course regularly, through attendance, preparation and participation, even though you meet attendance requirements. Even though you may have submitted assigned work, your contribution will not have added to the course discussion, or
  • Dominating discussions, thereby restricting others’ participation, and
  • Disrupting others’ opportunity to listen and/or participate, or
  • Making negative, offensive, and/or disrespectful comments during discussions, or
  • Violating the privacy of individuals, or
  • Using electronic devices such as, but not limited to, a cell phone, tablet, or computer for personal or unrelated coursework during class unless instructed to do so. There are no exceptions.