IDS111 Northland Highways


The Northland motto is “A highway shall be there.” This saying has biblical origins, but I prefer to think of this “highway” as your “life’s path.” Your time at Northland is one part of your life’s path but the steps you take here can greatly impact the direction of your “highway.”

Thus, your start at Northland is a unique moment of your journey. In this course April and I aim to help you get started on that journey. Our objective is to provide a safe, open, and inclusive learning environment for you to ask questions; learn about Northland, the community, and college in general; and explore what a successful journey at Northland looks like for you. Please explore the syllabus below and the course modules for specific objectives to help reach this goal.


Time and Location

This course meets nearly every Thursday (see modules tab for exact dates) from 3-4pm in room 125 of the Larson-Juhl Center for the Science and Environment (LJCSE125).

Course Description

Northland Highways is a college transition-themed first-year seminar course that introduces students to the Northland College mission, acclimates them to the campus community and the northland region, and prepares them for academic, social, and personal success in college. Northland Highways builds on the foundational work of Outdoor Orientation and is part of the broader continuum of transition programming for new students.

Intended Learning Outcomes

In this course you will …

  1. Develop a sense of community through your relationships with mentors, staff, and faculty;
  2. Become familiar with campus resources that will help your meet your academic, social, and personal goals;
  3. Develop a sense of place through understanding Northland’s history, mission, and vision and by actively exploring the campus and surrounding area;
  4. Articulate what success in college means to you;
  5. Learn strategies that will help you achieve your collegiate goals;
  6. Identify areas of strength in order to make informed decisions about your major and life’s path;
  7. Create a four-year plan that maps out coursework for your Liberal Education for the Environment and Society (Lees) curriculum and a selected major; and
  8. Learn how to participate in small-group, seminar-style classroom discussions.


Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, its a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. – President Barack Obama


I will answer to “Derek”, “Doctor Ogle”, “Professor Ogle”, or “Doctor Professor Ogle, Sir” … whichever you prefer. 😀 My preferred pronouns are he/him.

I am committed to your doing well in this course and more broadly at Northland College. As such, I see it as my responsibility to help you as much as possible both in and out of the designated class period. Thus, you may call (715-682-1300) or e-mail1 with questions or to set up an in-person or virtual visit for help. Finally, you may send me anonymous feedback, suggestions, or questions. Please don’t hesitate to see or contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or issues.

Student Mentor

In addition, April Shipley-Mellon will serve as a teaching assistant for this course. April (she/her) is in her third year at Northland! After a long last school year, I headed back home to Saugatuck, MI and had a relaxing summer hanging out with family, friends, and five dogs. I am excited to be back in Ashland and to continue pursuing my degree in Natural Resources. Having spent much of my childhood outdoors and around Lake Michigan, I developed a love for nature which was soon met with a passion for conserving our precious resources for future generations. The small size and drive for sustainability made Northland an easy choice for me. I am excited to help guide you through your first semester and I hope you fall in love with Northland just as I did. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions or concerns any time!


We want to create an inclusive and accessible learning environment for those of you that have a reason (e.g., attention, learning, vision, hearing, mental, physical, or other health-related concern) that may require special accommodations. If you have already established accommodations with the Office of Accessibility Resources (OAR), please communicate your approved accommodations to me (Derek) as soon as possible so that we can discuss your needs in this course. If you have a condition that requires accommodations but you have not yet established services through OAR, then you should contact the Accommodations Specialist as soon as possible (

Note that it is the policy and practice of Northland College to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. More information is available here.

Academic Alerts

If I observe you “struggling” with the course early in the semester then I may issue an “Academic Alert” about you. If this happens, you will receive an e-mail from me that will suggest steps you can take to improve your performance in the course. Our Academic Success Coordinator and your academic advisor will also receive the alert and will likely also reach out to you. Academic Alerts are not punitive, they are simply an attempt to help you get back on track in this course as soon as possible.

Further note as your Highways instructor I may receive Academic Alerts about you from professors in your other classes. If this happens I will reach out to discuss the alert with you.


Your grade in this course will be based on your attendance, in-class engagement, and performance on exercise assignments and a final paper. These assessments will be combined according to the following weights to calculate a final grade.

Item Engagement Exercises Final Paper
Weight 45%45%10%

Your letter grade will be assigned from your overall percentage (rounded to a whole number) and the table below. However, note the attendance policy below.

A 93-100A- 90-92
B+ 87-89B 83-86B- 80-82
C+ 77-79C 70-76
D+ 67-69D 60-66F 0-59


The goals for this course are largely met through class attendance. Thus, the following strict attendance policy is used for this course.

  • Two or more unexcused absences will result in a failing grade (and you will be required to take the course again).
  • Excused absences will be treated differently at my discretion but will generally not be punitive as long as the in-class work and assignments are made up. Please communicate with me about excused absences by at least noon of the day of the class period.

Consider the following examples of this attendance policy.

  • Abigail missed the third class period because her car would not start. Her grade is not affected by this absence except that she missed points for in-class engagement (because the absence was unexcused).
  • Benny missed two class periods, one because he left town for a concert in the Twin Cities and one because he decided to “take the day off.” These are unexcused absences, so Benny will fail the course and will need to retake it in the future.
  • Claudette missed three class periods because she was traveling with the Women’s Soccer team on two Thursdays and was in “concussion protocol” for another Thursday. Each one of these absences is considered excused (she had a note from her doctor about the concussion) and Claudette clearly communicated the absences to me before each class period and she made up the work for each missed day. Thus, her grade is not affected by these absences.
  • Davide missed three class periods – one because he was traveling with the Cross Country team to a meet, one because he decided to sleep in on the day after a meet, and one because he had a friend from home visiting. The first absence is considered excused, but the other two are considered unexcused. Thus, this is similar to Benny’s case and Davide will fail the course and need to take it again in the future.
  • Elinor missed three consecutive weeks because she had mono, came to class for one week, and then missed two more weeks as her health declined again. Elinor had a note from her doctor explaining her illness and why she could not attend class, however, she was unable to make up any of the work that she missed because of her illness. Elinor failed the course because she completed so little of the required work. [Note that in an instance like this, I would work with Elinor to find a less punitive administrative decision – possibly a late withdrawal from the course. However, she would still be required to take the course again.]


This course is taught in an active learning format and, thus, our time during class is short and important. The following behaviors are indicative of a fully participating student:

  • Attended entire class period (including being on time).
  • Came to class having fully completed the required preparation materials.
  • Fully participated in all in-class activities.
  • Paid attention during discussions and asked pertinent questions.
  • Collaboratively worked with others when appropriate.
  • Followed the class conduct guidelines.

I will assess your engagement at the end of each class period with the following rubric.

4 points3-1 points0 points
Fully (see above) participated in the day's activities. Properly focused at all times.Participated in many, but not all, of the day's activities. Focus waned or was inconsistent. Left early or arrived late by between 1-15 mins.Very little active participation in the day's activities. Lacked focus. Left early or arrived late by more than 15 mins.


Each module will have an associated written exercise, details for which will be given when the exercise is assigned. Exercises will be handed in through the class GradeScope page. Directions for setting up and using GradeScope are here.

Final Paper

The final paper will consist of you writing two letters to yourself, one to your high school self and one to your future self. Specific details will be provided in the final module.

Incomplete Grades

An incomplete grade will be given ONLY under extreme circumstances beyond your control, such as a major illness, and will ONLY be given if you have successfully completed the entire course except for the final paper. This is in accordance with Northland College policy (scroll down to “Incomplete Grades”).


Classroom Conduct and Academic Integrity

Our intent is to create a classroom environment where every student feels comfortable and safe to explore, learn, and grow. One part of this environment is your conduct within it. Our expectations of you are that you will fully participate in the course (see Engagement above) and be respectful of all others in the course. At a minimum, we expect you to adhere to the following behaviors:

  • Please arrive to class on time. If you arrive late, then take the first available seat as quietly as possible. If you need to leave early, then please sit near the exit.
  • Please attend the entire class period. Please take care of your personal needs (e.g., using the restroom) before class so that you can stay focused for the entire class period.
  • Please turn off and store out-of-sight cell phones and other electronic devices.
  • Please do not engage in side discussions while I or others are speaking to the entire class.
  • Please do not sleep in class – this behavior is rude and distracting to others (especially the professor).
  • Please do not use disrespectful language when addressing others.
  • Please adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines described further below.

Finally, note that the College’s Academic Integrity Statement & Policy will be followed in this course. Please make sure that you are familiar with its content.

Work Outside of Class

As a general rule-of-thumb,2 you are expected to spend 2-3 hours of time outside of class for each hour in class. For this course, we meet for 1 hour per week, so you should dedicate 2 to 3 hours of time outside of class time each week to prepare for class, complete assignments, review your work, and ask questions or for help. The work required for this course can be completed within this expected amount of time, if that time is without distraction. If monitoring your phone/device is distracting you from getting your work done then you may consider the aid of apps (e.g., Forest) designed to reduce distractions from devices.3

If you feel that you are spending too much time on some assignments or preparations, then start your work earlier so that you can stop (and do other things) and make plans to seek help.

Title IX Statement

In accordance with Title IX and other local, state, and federal laws, Northland College is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of discrimination, including sex and gender-based discrimination. This includes, but is not limited to sexual violence, sexual harassment, dating violence, and stalking. If you or someone you know has been affected or is currently being affected by these types of behaviors that are limiting your or their ability to participate in this course or any other Northland College sponsored program or activity, please know that there are options, and resources are available. You can also make a report by contacting the Title IX Coordinator.

I am not a confidential resource. As a faculty member I am considered a mandatory reporter and am required to report incidents of sex- and gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator, as we want to ensure that you are connected with the campus support resources offered by the College. You can also make a report by contacting the Title IX coordinator directly. To learn more, please visit the Northland College Title IX website.

COVID-19 Statement

As you are aware, the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are ever-changing. Thus, it is possible that the college may make decisions that will affect how this course is administered. In addition, you may miss some class periods out of an abundance of caution if you are ill. If you should have to miss class for any reason, please e-mail me promptly to explain to me your situation. I will work with you to help you stay up with class material as best as possible. If face-to-face classes are canceled then I will communicate with you promptly about how we will continue with class. Communication will be key to stay abreast of the current situation and how it relates to our class … so please keep me informed of your circumstances and regularly monitor your Northland e-mail.

It is my hope that we can maintain a face-to-face classroom for the entire session. You can help with this by doing the following things related to our class.

  • Get vaccinated.
  • Monitor your temperature and check for symptoms of COVID-19 as described under “DAILY SELF CHECKS” on this page. If your temperature is elevated or you have symptoms please don’t come to class, notify the Office of Health Services, and notify me. Being cautious about your health and the health of others will be considered an “excused” absence and will not count against your attendance grade (as long as you communicate with me).
  • Thoroughly wash your hands prior to entering the classroom.
  • Please properly wear your mask at all times when entering the building and the classroom. This is in compliance with Northland’s face covering policy. 😷
  • Maintain proper physical/social distance (three feet) from other students while in the classroom.
  • Communicate issues to me (see ways to communicate to me above) so that I am aware and can try to address the issues.


  1. While I am pretty open-minded and not much of a stickler when it comes to e-mail etiquette, some professors are. And it is always better to send an appropriate rather than an inappropriate e-mail. Here and here are some good suggestions for e-mailing professors. 

  2. As a general rule-of-thumb, you are expected to spend 2-3 hours of time outside of class for each hour in class. General advice for how much time should be spent outside of class for each hour inside of class can be found, among many, here, here, here, and here

  3. Also see the following resources for other apps that may help you eliminate distractions from your devices … here, here, here, or here