Dr. Steve Taylor

Phone: (309) 438 - 8772

Contact Me

FAQ (For Undergraduate Courses)

Questions About Course Policies

In the Fall 2007 the Department of Marketing instituted a dress code for Marketing students. Does this apply to me? Please click here for the source document explicating ISU's Department of Marketing shared professional expectations of students. The document governing this expectation can be found by clicking here.

This depends on which class you are attending. All marketing classes I teach EXCEPT MKT230 will be held accountable to this standard. MKT230 students, however, will not be held accountable to this new standard. That said, I strongly encourage the practice for all students. Professionalism is an attitude that reflects an accumulation of factors. Often people find it difficult to switch from very casual attire to professional dress post-graduation. Dressing professionally should be habitual when you enter the work force. This is important because it is quite likely that people will not point out unprofessional attire, rather simply think less of the person professionally. Some students may argue that they cannot afford business casual attire pre-graduation, however, there is a good counter-argument that this is a legitimate college cost and one that cannot be avoided post-graduation anyhow for the vast majority of students. If this is truly a problem for you, then see me and let's discuss the matter.

How do I make an "A" in your class? The path to an "A" in my courses is quite simple, yet not very easy. First, purchase the text and read the materials ahead of time (i.e., before lecture). Second, print off any PowerPoint slides I may make available to you and bring them to class. Third, attend class and listen carefully to the lectures (note that I love to give quizzes as part of your class participation grade). Fourth, develop your own test questions based on the materials and lecture. Students are often surprised how similar their own examinations are to mine when they pursue this strategy. Remember that the purpose of testing is not to "trick" you, rather, to provide an opportunity to demonstrate your grasp of the material. Flaskcards also work very well for classes like MKT230: Introduction to Marketing. Fifth, if there is homework or written assignments associated with the class, do not put this off as this may lead to you falling behind at the end of the semester. Finally, if you have questions -- contact me and let's clear them up!

What if the University's server or one of the computer labs is down, or my computer goes goofy, when it's time to complete an assignment? We can't control that so we are not responsible -- correct? So sorry, not true. While server problems are not within your control, this is only a problem if you are completing work at the last minute. Sometimes that legitimately cannot be helped. However, it is perhaps more often the case that procrastination has become a habit. In short, there is usually fair warning when university and COB servers are going down. You can click here for a university web page the identifies planned outages.  Accommodating late work is problematic and generally not acceptable. Students should make it a practice to investigate scheduled computer outages and anticipate failures with technology.  Even if there is no advance indication of a problem, you are still responsible for due dates -- just like in the "real world."  Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you use the college technological resources when they are up. Do not wait until the last minute to complete assignments! Don't fall prey to the two rules concerning technology:

Rule 1: Technology will fail you when you need it.
Rule 2: The more you need technology, the more likely Rule 1 applies.

When are assignments really due? Assignments are due on their due dates, during the class period for physical courses and by 5:00 pm for Internet courses. Due dates for all assignments can be found in your course syllabus. Please do not ask me ANYTHING that can be found on the syllabus. I, too, would need to refer to the syllabus in order to answer this question for you. 

If I can't attend class, can I just e-mail assignments to you? Absolutely not -- unless you have prior permission from me in advance of the due date! While I recognize that there can be legitimate reasons underlying such behavior, I believe that this practice can also (1) encourage procrastination or reduced class attendance, and (2) shifts printing costs to the University. Since I have so many students in my section, this can add up quickly. If you think that your reason is legitimate, please see me before the assignment is due.

Why do think that it is a "bad" idea to ask professors what specific materials from slidesand/or book are not testable? I often get questions from students immediately preceding the first test asking what materials are testable from the slides and/or book. I make a big point of discussing this in class several times before the first examination (hence the highlighting of the powerpoint notes), so I first feel that these are questions I have already answered (several times) in class. Second, such questions give the impression that the student is more interested in test-taking than learning. Third, students today often seem unprepared to summarize notes, even when they are given to students (in other words, many students do not seem able to engage in effective note-taking). So, please do not ask me such questions. Instead, ask me how to improve your note-taking skills.

What's the deal with contacting you through your web page using Meebo? Meebo essentially allows you to use my web page to IM me (anonymously). I will be coming online periodically to make myself available for your questions or comments as my time permits, more or less randomly as time permits. I often run Meebo in background when I am working at my desk. However, please note that this is IM. Students sometimes want to discuss complicated topics using IM, which is terribly frustrating (Do you like long text messages in e-mails?). In addition, I am not an efficient typist.

So, please do not ask me difficult questions requiring lengthy responses. My rule of thumbs for using communication technology are as follows:

1. If I can respond in 10 words or less, then IM is appropriate.

2. If I can respond in 20 words or less, then e-mail is appropriate.

3. If the response will likely require more than 20 words, or involves a dialogue, then call me or swing by my office to discuss.

I am available all the time in my office. I welcome your comments regarding whether or not this tool is a valuable addition to my communication strategy in this course.

I believe that a "good" student will argue for higher grades with professors, so expect me to come in and argue for every possible point. This is an argument that i have heard on a couple of rare occassions. While I strongly encourage all students to review their tests and other submissions in my office, I would take the position that grades are based upon standards, and I tend to be (in my mind) quite generous with grading. In addition, almost all academic work is relative to the submissions of classmates. That said, I am open to students clarifying written comprehensive assignments vis-a-vis grades.

However, with multiple choice questions, the standard is statistical in nature. In other words, I carefully evaluate the difficulty indexes and class performance on every question of my multiple-choice exams. Questions which many students miss are carefully scrutinized for coding errors and potential ambiguity prior to the release of examination grades.

In terms of overall course grades, I will NOT change your grade unless I have made a mistake in calculating your grade. In other words. don't come to me and say that your 79.8 is sufficiently close enough to the standard of (for example) 80.0 to merit the next higher letter grade. It does not, and the argument that "you worked hard" and therefore "deserve the grade" is not compelling. Such arguments as not well thought out in from a critical-thinking perspective.

Questions About Class Attendance and Missing Class

What is the policy for attending class? You are adults and I will treat you as such. Sometimes it may be an entirely appropriate choice/priority to miss class. Likewise, if you choose to be generally uninvolved in the class, or to prioritize other activities above class, that is your choice. Thus, unless I notify you otherwise, do not expect me to keep track of your class attendance. However, I reserve the right to assign extra credit and give (numerous) pop quizzes, regularly and often, at my discretion. These will be counted as part of your class participation grade. Please note that you are personally responsible for course information and requirements that I disseminate, regardless of your level of involvement in the class. In every case, if you miss something because you are not there (including quizzes or important class management information), it's still your own personal responsibility and you can expect little sympathy from me. Please also note that I take a particular hard line on the negative impact of nonattendance as it relates to group assignments in my classes.

What is your policy for making up examinations? My answer to this question is often at odds with students' expectations. I believe that we do students a grave disservice when we signal that any excuse for missing an important due date is acceptable. That is, in the "real world" managers largely cannot afford the luxury of caring why work is not completed in a timely manner. It has been my experience that students often express an entitlement philosophy wherein they believe that it is a professor's responsibility to accommodate circumstances in a student's life. This issue is further complicated by the fact that I will catch several students annually blatantly lying about their reasons for needing to miss a test. In many of these cases they have linked the need to a fictitious accident and/or death in the family. Therefore, I do not reschedule or allow make-up examinations, unless an ISU representative advocates your position. Part of the reason that I have to take such a rigid stance is that my examinations are so closely tied to my course notes. It is very difficult for me to write reliable alternative examinations.

That said, I temper this position by generally allowing students to drop an examination in many of my courses to accommodate unforeseen circumstances in their lives. Please do not "play this card" early in the semester by not adequately preparing for an examination in case you legitimately need to drop an examination later in the semester. In addition, if ISU asks you to miss class (e.g., athlete, club, etc.), I generally accommodtae such requests. Othewise, please DO NOT ask me to reschedule an examination.

It is this I hear about your pet peeve concerning packing up before lecture is complete or leaving class in the middle of lectures? Please do not EVER pack up your things before lecture completion or get up and leave during a lecture for any reason. If you have a reasonable excuse (e.g., doctor's appointment), please do all of us the courtesy of letting me know before class and then sitting very close to the BACK door. You can anticipate my stopping lecture and addressing you if you surprise me by getting up to leave in a lecture. I interpret such activity as rude and disruptive, and therefore not tolerable as it is not considerate of the other students. I promise to ALWAYS start and end my classes on time as a courtesy to students. I have been delivering on this promise for more than 15 years at ISU.

Should I ever ask the professor "Do we need to know this ["this" being anything we are covering in class]? To ask this question is to imply that topic holds no interest to you if they will not be covered on the exam.   This is not the attitude that you want to bring with you as you embark on your careers. This question often is a reflection of a student's lack of involvement with the material and is often interpreted by professors as wasting their time, or even insulting.

Along these same lines, do you mind if I stop by before class if I'm unable to attend and ask, "Are we doing anything important in class today? Again, to ask this question is to imply that we sometimes engage in unimportant activities.  The course website (particularly the "What's new" section) and your relationships with your classmates should provide you with with enough information to keep you updated. You may want to copy someone's notes.  However, while these are by no means substitutes for lecture and classroom dynamics.  Therefore, I encourage students to study with a buddy or in a group in order to interact with the material.  It would not be fair to expect the professor to provide a personal lecture in light of your absence. This is generally a rule without exceptions, however, you are free to inquire if you believe that your own particular circumstances are sufficiently noteworthy.

Questions About Course Writing Assignments, Oral Presentations, and/or Group Projects

What's the deal with group projects and/or group simulation exercises? My courses often involve comprehensive group projects and/or simulation games. We use group activities because employers consistently tell us this is a technique that benefits students once they graduate and begin their professional work lives. I also always use (1) a simulation exercise in MKT 230 -- Introduction to Marketing Management, and (2) an extensive group project in my sections of MKT 232 -- Marketing Research as this provides a valuable line on student resumes as well as a document that is useful in the interviewing process.

What if we go up to make our presentation and find that our disk is corrupted? Then you will fail this assignment.There are two significant pieces of advice about presentations. First, ALWAYS check out your presentation ahead of time on the equipment you will be using in your presentation. Second, ALWAYS have backups of your presentations. You can place these on the college's virtual Q: drive. See the COB lab monitors for how to do this. See me if they do not answer your questions to your satisfaction.

Presenters should make it their responsibility to investigate technology prior to presentations. Even if there is no advance indication of a problem, you are encouraged to bring all materials in back-up format.This may include thumb drives or even hard, transparency copies of slides. It is understandable that you may not want to reproduce too many materials that may not be needed. However, you will need to use your common sense. You would not postpone a presentation to a client due to technological failure, would you? In fact, you would not even want your clients to be aware of any difficulties that you are having. Never let them see you sweat.

[A group member] is not pulling his/her weight. Can this person be fired from the group? Absolutely, as this also represents a pet peeve of mine. Make no mistake about this -- I expect ENTHUSIASTIC participation in group projects associated with the courses I teach. I am also very strict concerning participation in group projects. If a group comes to me and feels that a student is not carrying their load, I have instituted a formal process for removing the student from the group called the Free Rider Court. If you are experiencing a group problem, see me immediately! Also, document any efforts you have made to include the wayward student and the sequence of events to date. See individual course web pages for further information, or see me for clarification.

Do spelling and grammar count? How much will you take off for mistakes? Yes! While these skills should be up-to-date, most of your software includes both spelling and grammar checks. In fact, the Department of Marketing has collectively issued a set of guidelines in the form of writing standards and writing guidelines. Students in my courses will be held accountable to these standards and guidelines.

Do we have to dress up for presentations? Yes, because there is something to be said for impression management in the business world. The way that you present yourselves in business is likely to have a significant impact on the extent to which you and your work are taken seriously. You are also representing ISU in such activities and a professional manner is an expectation of our students and graduates.

What's the deal with the Bittebourg case exercise P&L statement in MKT230? I have heard that this homework assignment is not discussed in class. In this true? Yes, it is true that the P&L exercise in MKT230 is not covered in class materials. The New Shoes game that you will be playing in the large-section MKT230 classes involves virtual team making a series of marketing decisions over the course of the semester. Your feedback will come in the form of Profit and Loss (P&L) statements. One of the homework exercises involves devloping a P&L statement from a short case about the Bittebourg beer company. Some students, including business students find this exercise challenging. However, most students' problems seem associated with poor reading skills and an absence of experience with complex word problems. I generally schedule a couple of evening tutorial session for such students.In addition, please click here for a short, yet detailed, online video to help students strengthen these skills. I will only individually tutor students in my office in this particular matter if they have a documented, compelling reason for being unable to attend one of the evening study sessions.

Other General Questions

What's this I hear about your being willing to review my resume? This is absulutely true. I encourage all of students to visit me in my office (essentially at their convenience) to have me review their resume. Why should you do this? While eRecruiting and other ISU-based resources are very good, most students end up with resumes that look similar and can better be described as lists of previous activities than strong arguments for asking students to interview. I have found that taking a stronger critical thinking approach to resume writing helps students gain more interviews (which is the sole purpose of the resume at this stage of development). All is ask is that students preview my short video abd editting a draft before coming to see me. This will save us both time. Please click here for the video.

Do you have a position of cheating, plagiarism, or other ethical violations? Of course I do. Students enrolled in the College of Business are expected to maintain high standards of ethical conduct within the classroom and when completing assignments, projects, and/or exams. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty such as cheating will not be tolerated. Please click here for a description of what plagiarism. Students are expected to provide appropriate citations for non-original writing even if the work is paraphrased. Penalties for plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty may be severe. Students who cheat or otherwise engage in significant ethical violations can expect me to pursue such matters to the full extent of my abilities, up to and including seeking expulsion from ISU. Good ethics is good business, and good academic/life practice!

Will there be opportunities for extra credit, e.g., attending Business Week events)? My position on this issue has changed in recent years. I strongly encourage all students to attend activities such as Junior Day and Buisness Week, however, I don't feel compelled to reward students for doing somethings that is already so in their own interests. Rather, I have incorporated a policy, especially in my large section MKT230 classes, of allowing students to participate in surveys or experiments associated with academic research from around the University. This extra credit generally takes the form of +1% or +2% on students final course grade (very sweet!). In accordance with IRB regulations, students unable to participate in the activity itself are afforded an opportunity to submit a paper on a mutually agreed subject between the student and myself. Please note that such papers MUST be discussed and submitted BEFORE the rest of the class completes any such extra credit activities. This alternative is preferable to most students as many students are "one a grade bubble," either trying to hold a letter grade or achieve the next highest letter grade by semester's end. Thus, my strategy affords greater benefit to more students than some simple class participation extra credit. Please see me with any questions.

I have heard that you make digital video and IPod files available of your class lectures. Is this true? Yes, I am one of the few faculty members making such resources available for students within the College of Business. Specifically, I ty to videotape each of my MKT230 (large section) presentations and then make the files available to students on the U: drive. I will make these files available in either Quicktime or Windows media file formats, as well as *.mp4 for use with video IPods. I provide this service as a courtesy for students. However, do not rely on the availability of these files. The task in technically daunting, time consuming, and it often happens that there are technical glitches (e.g., no sound). I simply promise to do my best, but will not be held accountable for technical failures whether or not they are beyond my control.


These FAQ's were created by Dr. Steve Taylor based on a template provided by Dr. Meredith Downes,
MQM Department, Illinois State University. Thanks Dr. Downs!
Copyright 1999: Steven Taylor, MKT Department, Illinois State University. All rights reserved.