U.S. Classroom 101

U.S. Classroom Culture

U.S. classroom culture us on thegeneral U.S. cultural preference of individualism.Classroom culture in this country is based on the ideas of:

    Individual Rights

  • The idea that an individual has rights that may not be taken by a government or group.
  • Independent Thinking

  • The belief that you are entitled to think for yourself rather than be told what to think.
  • Personal Responsibility

  • Individual rights and the ability to think independently require personal responsibility.You are responsible for your own thoughts and actions.This also means that others are entitled to credit for their respective thoughts and actions.
  • Freedom of Choice

  • Having the freedom to choose between alternative options or opportunities without constraint from others.
  • Interactive Learning

  • Interacting with instruction and the world around us to learn new ideas, skills, facts, theories.., etc.

Course Structure and Academic Expectations


Classification is often expressed by how many years a student has been in school:

  • Freshman - first year student
  • Sophomore - second year student
  • Junior - third year student
  • Senior - fourth year student

A typical number of hours to determine your classification:

  • Freshman - 0-30 credit hours
  • Sophomore - 31-60 credit hours
  • Junior - 61-90 credit hours
  • Senior - 91+ credit hours

Credit Hours

  • When talking about class enrollment the term "hours" or "credit hours" isoffers used; it represents the number of hours you are typically in class per week.
  • For most purposes, 12 hours constitute a full-timeenrollment for undergraduate and law students; 9 hours is full-timeenrollment for graduate students.
    • Courses can be 1 hour, 3 hours or 4 hours.
  • The enrolled credit hours do not include time-spend studying outside of class.
  • It is important that you remain in contact with your academic advisor , program advisor and or foreign student advisor regarding specific details of your program.


The syllabus is like a contract between the professor and the students

It will include things like:

  • Instructor's contact information and office hours
  • Class policies
    • Grading policy
    • Attendance policy
    • Inclement weather policy
  • Readings and assignments schedule.

Grading System

Final grades for courses are “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”, and “F” (the exceptions to this are Fay Jones School or Architecture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences).

The university uses a numeric point system to calculate grades.

  • A = 4 points
  • B = 3 points
  • C = 2 points
  • D = 1 point
  • F = 0 points

Check your syllabus for a detailed grading policy for each course

Classwork and Assignments

Every class will be different, but may include any of the following:

  • Daily homework
  • Online homework
  • “Pop” Quizzes
  • Group Projects*
  • Papers
  • Exams
  • Mid-Terms and Finals

Some courses use will use online tools to submit assignments and/or monitor your grades. (Blackboard is commonly used at the university).

*Working on materials as a group is a common method that professors use for students to enhance learning. However, it is one of the most challenging parts of academic adjustment for many international students.

Academic Integrity

We often use the term plagiarism when we talk about academic integrity and most the most basic definition is using the works of others. However, academic integrity is a broader concept and if we consider both ideas together, we can break them down into three main categories:

    Copying Work

  • This is the most straightforward and easily recognized form of academic dishonesty. Borrowing, copying, or purchasing the work of anther and then representing it as your own is a problematic and should be avoided in every circumstance. Planning and allowing enough time to complete assignments will help reduce the temptation to make this mistake.
  • Working Together

  • Collaboration is a good thing except when your professor did not intend for it to happen. Pay attention to the course syllabus as well as the instructions that your professor give you for each of your assignments. If it is acceptable for you to work in collaboration with another student, then the instructor will make this clear. If the instructor does not tell you that the assignment or exercise is collaborative, you should assume that it is not and that any collaboration with another student (enrolled in the class or not) will be unacceptable and leave you open to questions of academic dishonesty. If you still feel uncertain on this point after checking the syllabus and reading the instructions carefully, ask your professor to avoid any problems later.
  • Failing to Acknowledge the Contributions of Others

  • For many students, this is a challenge. Different professors may have very different expectations about how you should reference the work of others in your assignments.


  • Ask your professor, instructor or teaching assistant. Regardless of who it is, the best way to make sure you are doing what is expected is to ask.
  • Ask a librarian. Librarians are excellent people to ask.
  • Visit Class +. Class + is another source for assistance in matters related to proper citation and academic integrity.