General Course Policies

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

1. Protocols for Revision of 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.

Basic Stuff

  • 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 my feedback on your submission, then download and read this handout on levels of revision. Meet with me to make a revision plan and to make sure that you understand what your revision priorities are.
    • If you choose to revise without meeting with me and making a plan, you may or may not be “on the right track.” 

Revision Memo and “Compare” Document Required

  • Upload your revision  to the appropriate dropbox on Canvas, which will be lableled clearly–something like “REVISION of Project 1.”
  • You also need to email me (drewml at stedwards dot edu- regular email, not the Canvas message system that looks like email) two 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 and not, say, a visual or audiovisual remix).
  • So, it’s three documents:
    1. revised project uploaded to the Canvas dropbox;
    2. revision memo, emailed to me; and
    3. “compare” document, emailed to me (if the assignment is primarily textual).

Revision Memo

  • This is a reasonably detailed one-page memo explaining
    • what you revised,
    • how you revised it,
    • the rhetorical or argumentative purpose of each revision, with causation markers (“because,” “thus,” “so,” “as a result,” etc.) and details, and
    • how you addressed or used my comments on the original graded submission.
  • 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. 
  • There’s no particular format: bullet points are fine if they are substantive.
  • No memo (or superficial memo), no revision accepted. This is not a go-through-the-motions thing and is not optional. Take care with this–it is important.

“Compare” Document

  • This is an easy, comprehensive way to get the computer to show you (and me) what exactly is revised between the original submission and the revision of a primarily text-based assignment. If you are unsure whether a revision of a particular assignment, such as a not-primarily-textual assignment, requires a compare document, please ask
  • Use MS Word on your own computer or on a publicly available computer at St. Edward’s.
  • If you revise a project, the first thing to do is to make a copy of the original submission, change the filename to show that it is revised, and work on that revised file.
    • You want separate files with separate, useful, clear file names, e.g., Smith-WRIT-2325-Proj1-Original and Smith-WRIT-2325-Proj1-Revised.
    • That way, you will have a clear separation between the project as you submitted it originally and the revision.
  • Follow these steps for making a “compare” document:
    • Have your original text and final revisions to that text handy in electronic form.
    • For MS Word or Google Docs converted via download to Word File–>Download as–>Microsoft Word (.docx). 
      • Change your Track Changes Preferences to these settings.
      • Then follow these instructions for Word 2011 on Mac or for Word on Windows.
      • The original submission will be on the left-hand pane as the original document and the revised submission will be on the right-hand pane.
      • Compare the two documents (original submission and revised submission) at the character level and show the changes in a new (third) document.
        • That third document is the “compare” document that accompanies your revision memo.
      • Email me the revision memo and “compare” document at drewml at stedwards dot edu.
    • For LibreOffice
      • Follow these directions under the Edit – Compare Document paragraph.
      • Email me the revision memo and “compare” document at drewml at stedwards dot edu.
  • No “compare” document (for a primarily text-based assignment), no revision accepted. This is a firm requirement.

2. Revision of Other Submissions

  • Some of your other submissions, e.g., in-process activities such as research proposals, rough outlines, etc., may require resubmissions if I ask for them. Typically, such items are graded “Complete” or “Incomplete,” using Canvas. You don’t need to do the whole “memo and compare document” process for those kinds of submissions. 
  • Some items are one-shot “Complete/Incomplete” activities or are single events, such as quizzes or exams in the few classes where I use exams. Those items are not eligible for revision because of their timing and purpose.

3. Meeting with Me Outside of Class

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. 
  • Office 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.
  • Office 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.

Setting Appointments Outside of Posted 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 for the appointment.
    • Don’t send an email asking if I have any time to meet with you, because all I can write in reply is something like “Maybe. When are you available?” and we’ve not yet accomplished anything toward setting up a meeting. Please start what I hope is a two-email thread by proposing three dates and times that you are available for the appointment.
  • You could also set up a Zoom/Hangouts appointment instead.
  • 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!

4. Email 

  • In F2F classes, if we cannot speak face-to-face (which I prefer), email is by far the best way to reach me with particular questions. I much prefer regular email to the Canvas message feature that looks like email because I can receive and respond to emails faster and easier.
  • In online classes, email will be a critical means by which we can stay in touch. Please use it early and often.
  • 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.
  • Please note that I usually don’t read emails after 5 pm. Emails sent after 5 pm will probably be read the next day.

5. Peer Review

  • Drafts are just that–drafts. Everyone acknowledges that your draft is not going to be as polished as the project you turn in for a grade, but peer review of nearly completed submissions cannot proceed meaningfully if you show up with or submit, say, one full paragraph and a bunch of bullet points.
  • Peer review is about reviewing reasonably full (albeit in-process) drafts, not about trying to make sense of skeletal outlines or notes that the writer has not yet tried to develop and refine.
    • To participate in peer review, you must attempt all of the project and bring/submit your best, most complete work at that time. That’s what I call a “good-faith draft.”
    • 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. Here’s a handout about the logistics of peer review in an online class.
  • I grade you on your peer review of others’ work.
  • In F2F classes: this is an in-class activity; “must be present to win.” 

6. Late Work: (Almost) Never

I try to give you ample time to do your best work. All deadlines are in Austin, TX time.

I do not accept late work, except in two cases:

  1. your one freebie late project per semester, which you can use as a matter of right (no questions asked, no explanation or request needed),
  2. genuine emergencies.

Sometimes, “life happens” and unforeseeable,  disruptive events that are out of your control happen to all of us–including me. I have kids, elderly parents, etc.

It’s best to handle genuine 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 come up with a reasonable response to a genuine emergency.

7. The Vexing Subject of Grades

  • Responding to student work is a joy; grading much less so. But I have to grade you 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.”
    • While that pithy saying cannot capture all that goes into evaluating your projects, 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 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. Please do not ask. We have plenty to do with all the regular work of the course.

Grade Discussions During the Semester

  • If you believe that my evaluation is wrong or unclear, please feel free to come see me. We are both grownups; let’s talk.
  • I expect you to ask questions if you don’t understand how I will evaluate your performance. Again, the recurring mantras of my class environments: ask, ask, ask and grownups, grownups, grownups.
  • 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 my comments.
  • In F2F classes, I will discuss grades only in person in my office. Please feel free to visit me during office hours or set up an appointment. In online classes, I prefer a videoconference.

Grade Discussions After the Semester

  • After the term is over, please do not call or e-mail me to discuss your grades.
  • If you want to discuss the course grade you earned in the class, you’ll need to follow these university procedures and deadlines.

8. Attendance and Promptness (F2F Courses)

  • Prompt, consistent attendance is essential to your success.
    • Course material includes discussions, activities, and workshops. I have structured the course to provide strong incentives for coming to class regularly and on time.
    • Quizzes, exams, peer review, invention workshops, etc. take place in class: “must be present to win.”
  • I use a sign-in process called Qwickly (in Canvas).
    • Please get in the habit of coming to class a couple minutes early and marking yourself present.
    • Don’t mark someone else present–that is dishonest.
    • If you arrive late,  mark yourself “late” in Qwickly. Do not interrupt me or a class session in progress to mark yourself late–you will have to remember to do it at the end of class.
  • You may miss up to three class meetings without penalty and with no questions asked.
    • However, you still must turn in your work on time and 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.
  • Class starts (and ends) on time. 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, please don’t contact me with acts of contrition or excuses. You still need to prepare for the next class meeting and to turn in your work on time.
    • I suggest making friends with a reliable fellow student who can help you catch up.
    • You may also visit me during student visiting hours in my office or email me for help, but you must take the initiative to catch up.
      • You should be aware that office discussions attempting to recap a full class are, at best, pale shadows of the real thing and I won’t re-teach whole classes to you.
  • If you miss five or more class meetings before the drop deadline, 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 “disappear,” you will likely earn a grade of “F.”
  • If you enrolled late or switched sections, it’s your responsibility to see me and to catch up.

9. Participation

  • Participation is part of fulfilling the basic grading contract.
    • I expect all students to participate in the course activities, including keeping up with the readings, participating in discussions, and engaging in writing and feedback processes.
    • Please be ready to be called on (in F2F classes) and to be responsive to questions, discussions, process work, and activities (in all classes).
  • My F2F students consistently 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. I see students every semester who really benefit from workshop days. I also see a few, unfortunately, who squander workshop days and harm their performance. 
  • In online courses, keep up with the weekly plans and be sure to work backwards from deadlines to allow enough time to do your best work and to consult with me and with your classmates. Do all the process work, activities, and discussion posts. It all counts–none of it is busy work.

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.
  • In F2F classes: unless you are expecting a crucial call, put your phone on silent (not just vibrate).
    • If you are expecting a crucial call, just tell me (sometimes I am in the same boat–I have kids, aging parents, etc.).
    • Please be mindful of the differences between device-usage habits when on your own and when in a classroom setting.
    • When you are on our own, you probably use your computer to combine work and play and to toggle back and forth between various activities. I often do the same. In the classroom, though, please use devices for relevant work: don’t play games, mess around on social media, etc.
    • When we work on projects in class, you need to work on the project, not on assignments for other courses, or on recreational activities. You may be counted absent if you waste workshop days.
  • In online classes, you will have to exercise strong discipline to avoid the many distractions and temptations of computer-mediated and online environments.

11. The Writing Center: Multiple Forms of Help for All Students

  • Use the Writing Center. It’s available for both F2F students and online students. It’s a great resource for improving your writing on any writing task at any stage of completion.
  • The Writing Center is in the Munday Library on the second floor and offers help in four ways:
    • Face-to-face appointments if you are on campus,
    • Videoconference appointments if you cannot make it to campus,
    • Asynchronous uploading of files for commenting and feedback if you cannot make it to campus, and
    • Email for quick questions.
  • The Writing Center website has more details.

12. Academic Honesty

  • The work you turn in for this course must be your own and you must acknowledge your intellectual debts.
    • Please read the current St. Edward’s 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 post facto mind reading. It’s always best to avoid the problem in the first place.
  • I encourage you to seek help from me and from the Writing Center often. I will also allow you to see the “originality reports” that Turnitin generates.
  • Nobody’s born knowing how to integrate source material into their own work. I will help you, but you have to ask questions and be careful to keep the boundaries between your words and ideas and others’ words and ideas clear, if the assignment calls for it (as most college writing assignments do).
  • 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. Special Challenges

  • 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 an accommodation for a disability, even temporarily, to follow the university’s accommodation procedure. Contact Student Disability Services (512-448-8561 or Moody Hall 155).
  • 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. We should also discuss it in person or by email, so I can understand how best to carry out the accommodation.
    • I cannot accommodate disabilities for events occurring or assignments due before the date you gave me the 504 letter.
    • I cannot accommodate a disability based just on your oral statements or emails, even though I believe you. The letter is what starts my ability to accommodate. 
  • As a student, you may experience a range of challenges that can cause barriers to learning. These might include strained relationships, anxiety, high levels of stress, alcohol or drug problems, feeling down, or loss of motivation. The Health and Counseling Center is here to help with these or other challenges that you may experience. Help is always available.
  • If you face challenges securing food or housing and believe that these challenges may affect your performance in the course, please contact the Dean of Students office for support. Please also notify me, if you are comfortable doing that, so that I might help.

14. Title IX

  • Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender are civil rights offenses subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. If you or someone you know has been harassed or assaulted, you can find the appropriate resources, both on and off campus at https://www.stedwards.edu/campus-services/title-ix-and-preventing-discrimination.
  • Faculty are “mandatory reporters” required to report incidents of sexual misconduct. Thus, I cannot guarantee confidentiality. I must provide our Title IX coordinator with relevant details such as the names of those involved in the incident. Please know that 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, Suite 108, 512-448-8408, or go to https://www.stedwards.edu/campus-services/title-ix-and-preventing-discrimination/title-ix-students. You can also make a police report to the St. Edward’s University Police by calling 512-448-8444.

15. No Campus Carry

  • 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 because I’m not an authority on this other than to tell you that St. Edward’s has opted out of “campus carry.”