Please read these general course policies. They apply to any course I teach unless I specifically tell you otherwise. 

1. Revising Major Project Submissions

Almost nobody (including me!) nails a challenging writing problem on the first try. Revision helps you learn. These are the “revision protocols,” as I call them.


  • You don’t have to revise a project that is eligible for revision; it’s optional.
    • If you choose not to revise a project, the submission grade stands as your final grade for that project.
  • Eligible projects may be revised once after I grade them.
  • We’ll figure out a reasonable revision deadline when I return the graded submissions. The deadline will be posted to the course calendar.
  • Read or listen to my feedback on your submission. I suggest that you meet with me to make a revision plan and to ensure that you understand what your priorities are.
    • Download and read this handout on levels of revision. If you turn in a revision that is just tidying up a few mechanical things here and there, it’s probably more of a copyedit and won’t warrant much of an improvement in overall evaluation.
    • If you do not incorporate and use substantive advice I have given, especially about important content or purpose items missing from the original submission, the original grade will likely stand.
    • I strongly encourage you to meet with me to show me revisions in progress before you submit them.

Revision Memo and “Compare” Document Required

  • Upload your revised submission on Canvas, along with two other important items:
    • a revision memo and
    • a “compare” document of the original submission versus the revised submission (assuming that the assignment is primarily text-based).
  • So, it’s three items to upload:
    1. revised project,
    2. revision memo, and
    3. “compare” document (if the assignment is primarily textual).

Revision Memo

  • This is a reasonably detailed one-page memo explaining four items:
    1. what you revised,
    2. how you revised it,
    3. the rhetorical or argumentative purpose of each revision, with causation markers (“because,” “thus,” “so,” “as a result,” etc.) and details, and
    4. how you addressed or used my comments on the original graded submission–with specifics.
  • Examples:
    • “You pointed out that I did not provide evidence for my claims that X, Y, and Z. I added the following evidence after meeting with you and asking a librarian for help: ……Adding this evidence improves my argument because [specifics]….”
    • “After reading your comment #12, I made a chart showing all the evidence I used in my analysis and where I used specific rhetorical concepts. I found that there was not as much of a match as I thought there was and my argument was only partially developed. So, I went back to the textbook and to my artifact and…..This process improved my analysis because it…..”
    • “You pointed out that I did not hyphenate phrasal adjectives correctly. I found six of them to fix and did so after reading the link you sent. This fix improved my sentences for clarity because….”
  • You may group similar items; use your common sense and brainpower. 
  • I do not specify any particular format for a revision memo: bullet points are fine if they are substantive.
  • No memo (or superficial memo), no revision accepted. 
    • I put a lot of time and effort into my comments and want you to consider them carefully. In return, I expect a detailed revision memo.

“Compare” Document

  • This is an easy, comprehensive way to see exactly what is different between the original submission and the revision of a primarily text-based assignment. If you are unsure whether a revision of a particular assignment requires a “compare” document, please ask
  • To enable an accurate “compare” document, take these three steps:
    1. Make a copy of the original submission 
      • If you forget to do this step, the “compare” document won’t show accurate information. You can download your original submission from Canvas if necessary.
    2. Change the filename to show that it is revised
      • Examples: smith-writ-2325-proj1-revised.docx or, in Google Docs, smith-writ-2325-proj1-revised.
    3. Make all your revisions in that revised file.

Your “compare” document should look much like this (example from desktop version of MS Word), showing clearly what was added, moved, or deleted:

screenshot of a couple of paragraphs from a "compare" document
Example of part of a “compare” document showing all the differences between the original and revised submissions.


You have several options for making a “compare” document. Try the best options first.

Best Options

Desktop Version of Word

Google Docs

Screenshot of Google Doc with permission setting of "anyone with the link can edit."
Make sure that it reads “anyone with the link can EDIT.”

Backup Options



    • Navigate to Aspose.
    • Change granularity setting to “char.”
    • Upload original submission on left side.
    • Upload revise submission on right side.
    • Click “compare now” and wait (may take a few minutes).
    • Download the file that’s generated–that is a “compare” file. 

Online Version of Word

    • If you are using Word’s online version, it apparently does not have the same level of function that the desktop version has in terms of making it easy to do a comparison between two versions of a file.  Sigh. Here is what to do to track changes if you have Word in the online version.
    • Set to Reviewing and allow tracking for every user, then share that document.

Libre Office

Adobe Acrobat Pro

2. Revision of Other Submissions

  • Some of your other submissions, e.g., in-process activities such as research proposals, rough outlines, synthesis activities. etc., may require resubmissions if I ask for them. You don’t need to do the whole “memo and compare document” process for those submissions. 
  • Some items are one-shot points-graded activities. In a few classes, I might use exams. Such items are not eligible for revision because of their timing and purpose.
  • If an assignment is eligible for revision, I will clearly label it.

3. Meeting with Me Outside of Class

a) Posted Student Visiting Hours Online

Hat tip: Denise Maduli-Williams for the term “student visiting hours.”

  • Set an appointment with me by following this link to my Google Calendar
  • At the appointed time, meet in Zoom (link for visiting hours is on the home page of our Canvas site)

b) Other Hours

  • If you can’t make it to my posted hours, please send me an email with a clear subject line asking for an appointment, describing in one sentence what you want the subject of the appointment to be, and proposing three dates and times that you are available.
    • Don’t send an email asking if I have any time to meet with you, because all I can reply is something like “Maybe. When are you available?” so we’ll have two emails with no action.
    • We can almost certainly meet somehow. Don’t think that you can never talk to me outside of class if you can’t make my regular posted hours! 

In Normal Times: Posted Office Student Visiting Hours in Sorin 102

(Hat tip: Denise Maduli-Williams for the term “student visiting hours,” a nice emphasis.)

  • Posted office student visiting hours are not the hours I set aside to be in my office, hiding from students, and doing my “real work.” Teaching is my real work. 
  • Student visiting hours are the hours I have set aside to be available to students. They are your time. Don’t be shy. Stop in/log in and talk to me.
  • Student visiting hours are drop-in, first-come, first-served, no appointment needed.
    • You don’t need to email me to ask if I will be there during posted hours: I will be there unless I have emailed everyone to notify them of some emergency that prevents me from being there. If I have not done so, assume that I will be there and drop in.
  • Important: From where my desk is and with the way that the building is laid out, I will not know whether you are waiting in the hallway to see me. If I’m with someone, please poke your head in the door and let me know that you are waiting so that I can budget my time with each student. If you don’t let me know that you are there, I won’t know.

4. Real Emails (not the Canvas message feature)

  • Please do not use the Canvas message feature that only looks like email (it’s not real email) because it buries messages–I often don’t see them until considerable time has passed.
  • Use your regular St. Edward’s email and email me at
  • Emails to me should have a clear, specific subject line related to the topic of that particular email or message.
    • If your current email or message concerns a different subject than a previous conversation between us, please use a new subject line rather than just hitting “reply.”
  • I will strive to respond to your emails and messages within 24 hours and am usually well under that target. NOTE: I usually don’t read emails after 5 pm during the workweek or at all on weekends. Feel free to send me an email after 5 pm or on a weekend so it gets into my queue, but I take reasonable steps to approximate a work/life balance.

5. Peer Review

  • Drafts are just that: drafts. Everyone knows that a draft is not going to be as polished as a submission that you turn in for a grade, but peer review fizzles if you offer only a paragraph and a list of bullet points.
  • Peer review is about reviewing reasonably full (albeit in-process) drafts where the writer has taken a solid whack at the whole project. That’s what I call a “good-faith draft.”
  • Peer review is timed carefully to be reasonably close to the submission deadline and assumes that you have been working on the draft continuously.
    • To participate in peer review, you must attempt all of the project and bring or submit your best, most complete work at that time. 
    • In F2F classes, you also have to show up on time so I can set the groups.
    • In online classes, you have to log in to Canvas and see who your partner is. 
  • I grade you on your peer review of others’ work.
    • My peer review grading specifications are simple and focus on encouraging students to give useful feedback to one another. Overwhelmingly, students take peer review seriously and do a great job of helping each other to develop written work.

6. Late Work Policies

I try to give you ample time to do your best work. Submissions often have 11:59 pm deadlines to give you maximum flexibility. Late work is strongly discouraged, except in two cases:

  • Freebie-one free late major project per semester.
    • Submit the project no later than 48 hours after the posted deadline.
    • You may use this free extension as a matter of right-no questions asked, no explanation or request needed.
  • Emergencies where you contact me, ideally before the deadline passes.
    • Sometimes, “life happens.” Unforeseeable, disruptive events that are out of your control happen to all of us–including me. I have kids, elderly parents, a dog that sometimes eats things that he shouldn’t, etc. 
    • It’s best to handle emergencies on a case-by-case basis rather than to try to lay down some all-purpose rule.
    • If you think that you have a genuine emergency, don’t assume a yes or no from me on whether we can work something out. Just contact me right away and explain what the situation is, so we can put our heads together. We can likely work out a reasonable response to an emergency.

7. Grades

  • Responding to student work is a joy; grading much less so. But I have to assign grades if I want to stay employed. So I use grades in part to signal to you how you are doing within the expectations of the course and the assignments.
  • My philosophy on grading is this: “I don’t give grades; I just report the news.”
    • That pithy saying cannot capture all that goes into evaluating your projects, but I try to explain the criteria I will use and give you chances to ask questions. I evaluate your performance on the assignment within criteria that (I hope) we both understand.
  • I do not assign grades based on whether I like you, on your potential, your worth as a person, your politics, your GPA, your need or desire for a certain grade, your plans after college, your aid or scholarships, or other extraneous factors. I just evaluate your work.
  • There won’t be a round of extra credit chances at the end of the semester. 

Grade Discussions During the Semester

  • If I make a math or clerical error, speak up and I will fix it.
  • If you believe that my substantive evaluation is wrong or unclear, please set up an appointment. I ask that you wait at least 24 hours after you receive a grade to discuss it with me. This gives you a chance to reread your work and understand my comments. We are both grownups; let’s talk. I would expect that grade discussions would focus on criteria, expectations, and evidence of performance, as well as the particular project and policies, such as revision.  

Grade Discussions After the Semester

  • After the term is over, if you believe that your final grade is “in error or academically indefensible” (to use the official wording), you must follow the grade appeal process and deadlines in the university bulletin (myHilltop>Academic Bulletins). 

8. Attendance and Promptness

  • Come to class consistently and on time (F2F or synchronous online). Prompt, consistent attendance is essential to your success. Some activities take place in class: “must be present to win.”
  • I will ask you to sign in to create a record of attendance; I’ll explain how.
  • You may miss up to three class meetings without penalty. However, you still must keep up with the course.
  • If you are not prepared for class, and cannot participate meaningfully, I may deem that lack of preparation an absence. Please keep up with the readings and other work. In synchronous online classes, please don’t sign in, then “ghost” the session.
  • If you have not marked yourself present by the time I begin the class meeting by saying “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” or some such to the class as a whole, you are late.
    • Late arrival or leaving early without excuse= half an absence
    • Of course, if you have some legitimate reason to be late or leave early on occasion, please tell me and I’ll be reasonable.
    • That thing where students sometimes start packing up to leave five minutes early is out of bounds in my classes. I don’t hold you over late, but sometimes we work right up to the last minute (and sometimes we don’t). I’ll end class on time.
  • If you are on an official university NCAA athletic team, please see me to discuss any absences for games or matches.
    • The athletics staff can assist you with providing evidence I’ll need (a letter filled out and signed by the coach with specific dates).
  • If you miss a class meeting due to illness, you still need to prepare for the next class meeting (if you recover in time) and to turn in your work on time (if able).
    • Don’t come back yet if you are contagious, though!
    • If your illness extends more than a day or a few days, then please do let me know when you are returning so I know that you are not “ghosting” the class.
      • This communication is especially important during the pandemic, when contact tracing is necessary. I will, of course, be flexible for any COVID-19 illnesses (yours, a family member, etc.) that affect you. Just contact me.
    • You may also make an appointment with me for help. I suggest making friends with a reliable fellow student who can help you catch up.
  • If you miss five or more class meetings before the drop deadline and “ghost” the class (so, you’re missing class meetings, not responding to efforts to contact you, not turning in work, and have essentially disappeared), I reserve the right to drop you from the course with a grade of “WA.”
    • If you remain on the roster after the drop deadline and become a “ghost,” you will likely earn a course grade of “F.”

9. Participation

  • Participation is a basic expectation of the course.
    • I expect all students to participate in the course activities, including keeping up with the readings; participating in discussions; working in breakout groups, activities, and chat; and doing all writing and feedback processes. There’s no blow-off work.
    • Please be ready to be called on (in F2F or synchronous online classes) and to respond to questions, discussions, process work, and activities (in all classes).
  • Students tell me that workshop days help them learn while working on major projects. If our class involves workshop activities, please use that time wisely and also feel free to ask me questions. 
  • Keep up with the calendar and be sure to work backward from deadlines to allow enough time to do your best work and to consult with me and with your classmates.

10. Keeping Class Productive

  • Your learning is important, so feel free to ask questions, probe assumptions, interrogate the assignments, and generally take charge of your learning experience. Don’t be shy.
  • Unless you are expecting a crucial call, put your phone on silent (not just vibrate).
    • If you are expecting a crucial call and might have to step out of class, that’s fine. Just tell me.
      • Sometimes I am in the same boat–I have kids who have to check in with me or who get sick, I have aging parents, etc.
    • When you are on our own, you probably use your devices to combine work and play and to toggle back and forth between various activities. I often do the same. In the classroom context, though, please use devices for relevant work.
    • When we work on items in class, work on our course, not on something else.
  • In online classes, you will have to exercise strong discipline to avoid distractions and temptations.

11. The Writing Center and Tutoring

  • In this class: use the Writing Center. It’s available for all students. It’s a great resource for improving your writing on any writing task at any stage of completion. The Writing Center website has more details.
  • For many of your other classes: Academic support resources are available to students at no charge for the Fall 2020 semester. TutorME is a 24/7 online support platform that offers course-specific tutoring in a wide range of subjects. Visit myHilltop – TutorME to sign up and access more information. TutorMe Request Form Link

12. Academic Honesty

  • Nobody’s born knowing how to integrate source material into their own work. I will help you, but you have to ask questions. Be careful to keep the boundaries between your words and ideas and others’ words and ideas clear when the assignment calls for that.
  • The work you turn in for this course must be your own. You must acknowledge your intellectual debts.
    • Please read the current university bulletin (myHilltop>Academic Bulletins) for the university’s policies and procedures on academic dishonesty.
    • Here is what the university suggests, but does not require, that I do about different kinds of academic dishonesty. I retain discretion.
  • Most student plagiarism is the result of ignorance rather than fraud, but I won’t get involved in mind-reading. It’s always best to avoid the problem in the first place.
  • Don’t turn in work that you submitted for a grade in another class without my approval first.
    • I don’t want to stop you from pursuing lines of research across your work, but you’ll have to revisit previous topics in a new, substantially different way to earn credit for continuing to work on them. The rule? See me first.

13. “504” Accommodations

  • Student Disability Services coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities (medical, learning, or psychological).
  • I encourage any student who believes that they may need accommodation for a disability, even temporarily, to follow the university’s procedures.
  • I need the official “504 letter” to accommodate a disability. Share it with me in Box as soon as possible (ideally, in the first week of the semester) and also email me telling me to go look at the letter in Box. Box’s notification system is unreliable, so just sharing it in Box without also emailing me is likely to cause delays.
    • We will also need to discuss the letter in a brief conference, so I can understand how best to accommodate you. That conference will mostly consist of my asking you “So what works best for you?” and listening to what you say. Please do not ignore my requests to set up a conference.

14. Health and Counseling Center

  • The Health and Counseling Center is committed to ensuring that students receive the services that they need in order to be successful on the Hilltop. Its holistic approach emphasizes the importance of wellness for both body and mind.
  • The Health and Counseling Center’s is in Lady Bird Johnson Hall, Rm. 100. Its main number is (512) 448-8538; call during business hours. Please visit the HCC website for the latest offerings. 

15. Sex or Gender Harassment, Discrimination, and Misconduct

  • St. Edward’s University is committed to fostering a safe, inclusive, and productive learning environment. Title IX, state laws, and university policy prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity. Sexual misconduct —including harassment, relationship violence, sexual assault, and stalking —is also prohibited at the university.
  • If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can find the appropriate resources, both on and off the campus, at the university’s Title IX webpage.
  • As a faculty member, I am a “mandatory reporter” required to report incidents of sexual misconduct. I cannot guarantee confidentiality, even if you ask me to. I must provide our Title IX coordinator with relevant details, including the names of those involved in the incident.
    • You can seek confidential resources and advocates at the Health & Counseling Center in Johnson Hall, (512) 448-8538.
  • To make a formal report, you can contact the Dean of Students Office in Main Building, G 16, (512) 448-8408, or visit the complaint process webpage.
    • You can also make a police report to the St. Edward’s University Police by calling (512) 448-8444 or going to Operations Building, Room 219.

16. Campus Carry? No.

  • The student handbook specifies:

The carrying or possession of any type of weapon or firearm is strictly prohibited (a) on all university premises, including university parking lots and (b) at campus related activities, and (c) while conducting university business. This policy excludes law enforcement personnel and others who are storing such firearms in a locked vehicle in full compliance with Section 411.2032 of the Texas Government Code.

  • Please contact the campus police if you have questions or concerns and for updated information.
  • Don’t ask me about this subject because I’m not an authority on this matter, other than to tell you that St. Edward’s has opted out of “campus carry.”