General Policies

Please read these general course policies. They apply to all courses I teach, unless I specifically tell you otherwise. You should print these policies and keep them handy.

Revision of Major Projects

Almost nobody (including me!) nails a challenging writing problem on the first try. Revision helps you learn. These are the policies:

Basic Stuff

  • You don’t HAVE to revise; it’s optional.
  • If you choose not to revise a project, the first grade will stand as your project grade.
  • Eligible projects may be revised once after I grade them.
  • You have to have turned in the project on time to begin with (or used your free 24-hour extension on one project). Exceptions: a) true emergency and you conferred with me, b) 504 accommodations.
  • We’ll figure out a reasonable revision deadline when I return the graded projects. The deadline will be posted to the course calendar.
  • Read my feedback on your projects and come see me to make a revision plan.
    • 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

  • Your revision must be uploaded to the appropriate dropbox on Canvas.
  • You also need to email me two important items:
    • a revision memo and
    • a “compare” document of the original submission versus the revised submission.
  • So, it’s three documents:
    1. revised project uploaded to Canvas dropbox;
    2. revision memo, emailed to me, and
    3. “compare” document, emailed to me at drewml at stedwards dot edu through regular email. 

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 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: bullets 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.

“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.
  • It will help you to write the revision memo.
  • 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:

1) Have your original text and final revisions to that text handy in electronic form.

If you wrote your project in Google Docs, download it as an MS Word file (.docx). Just do File–>Download as–>Microsoft Word (.docx).

Then do 2) and 3) below on any publicly available computer (lab, library, etc.) at St. Edward’s, all of which have MS Word installed.

2) 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 them 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.

3) Email me the revision memo and “compare” document at drewml at stedwards dot edu through regular email (not the Canvas email).

  • No “compare” document, no revision accepted.

Meeting with Me Outside of Class

Posted Office Student Visiting Hours 

(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 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 in my office 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.
  • You could also set up a Google Hangout appointment instead.
  • We can almost certainly meet somehow.

Basic Technology Requirements

  • Check your St. Edward’s email at least daily.
  • Find a storage solution that does not make you depend upon the health of any particular computer.
    • Hard drive or flash drive failure is no longer a valid excuse in most circumstances. You have cloud storage space via the university.
  • Use Canvas to check your grades, to turn in your assignments and revisions in the appropriate dropboxes, to view Turnitin originality reports, post on discussion boards, and to view feedback on your work.


  • If we cannot speak face-to-face (which I prefer), email is by far the best way to reach me with particular questions. If the question can be answered by email, I will do my best to respond usefully.
  • Emails to me should have a clear, specific subject line related to the topic of that particular email.
  • I will strive to respond to your emails within 24 hours and am usually well under that target.
  • Help me find your email. If your current email concerns a different subject than a previous email conversation between us, please use a new subject line rather than just hitting “reply.”

Peer Review

  • Everyone acknowledges that your draft is not going to be as polished as the project you turn in for a grade, but peer review cannot proceed meaningfully if you show up with 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 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 your best, most complete work at that time to class. That’s what I call a “good-faith draft.”
    • You also have to show up on time so I can set the groups.
  • I grade you on your peer review of others’ work.
  • This is an in-class activity; “must be present to win.”

Late Work: (Almost) Never

I try to give you enough time for you to do your best work. 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.
  • Often, so-called emergencies are not really so.
    • Situations arising from planning problems, computer or peripheral problems, work schedules, assignments in other classes, lost items, parking, failure to back up electronic files and keep them available, vacation travel, student government, internships, music festival activities, co-curricular activities, and other such reasonably predictable events may not be excusable emergencies.
  • But I know that life intervenes and sometimes unforeseeable and disruptive events happen to all of us–including me. I have kids, elderly parents, etc.
    • It’s best to handle claimed emergencies on a case-by-case basis.
    • If you think that you have a real emergency that hinders your progress, 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.

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.
  • Extra credit chances: none.

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.
  • I will only discuss grades in person, face-to-face.
    • Please feel free to visit me during office hours or set up an appointment.

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.

Attendance and Promptness

  • 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, peer review, invention workshops, etc. take place in class: “must be present to win.”
  • I use a sign-in sheet.
    • Please get in the habit of coming to class a couple minutes early and signing the sheet.
    • Don’t sign someone else’s name to the attendance sheet because that is dishonest.
    • If you arrive late, sign after class and write “Late” or “L” by your name.
  • 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 signed the attendance sheet 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, but don’t try to hustle the class to conclusion each 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 office hours or email me for help, but you must take the initiative to catch up.
      • You should be aware that office hours discussions attempting to recap a full class are, at best, pale shadows of the real thing.
  • 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 try to catch up.


  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Treating workshop days as blow-off days results in poor performance and missed learning opportunities.
    • I see students every semester who really benefit from workshop days. I also see some, unfortunately, who squander workshop days and harm their performance.

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, 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.
      • There is nothing inherently wrong with those activities; I do them myself. However, I know when not to do them; you should, too.
      • 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.

The Writing Center

  • Use the Writing Center. It’s a great resource, in addition to meetings with me, 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,
    • Videoconference appointments,
    • Asynchronous uploading of files for commenting and feedback, and
    • Email for quick questions.
  • The Writing Center website has more details.

Academic Honesty

  • The work you turn in for this course must be your own and you must acknowledge your intellectual debts.
  • 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.

Special Challenges

  • Student Disability Services coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities (medical, learning, or psychological).
    • Any student who believes that they may need an accommodation for a disability should follow the university’s accommodation procedure by contacting Student Disability Services (512-448-8561 or Moody Hall 155).
  • Please note that I cannot reasonably accommodate any disability without the official “504 letter,” nor can I accommodate disabilities retroactively.
    • Please get me the 504 letter ASAP (share it with me electronically as soon as the semester starts or a soon as you have it).
  • If you are under stress and need to talk to a professional who can help you manage crises in your life, please contact the Health and Counseling Center.
  • 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 I might also help.

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
  • As a faculty member, I am also required by our university to report incidents of sexual misconduct and thus 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 You can also make a police report to the St. Edward’s University Police by calling 512-448-8444.

No Campus Carry

  • Bringing weapons or firearms of any kind on university premises, including university parking lots, or while conducting university business; and the possession of firearms, is prohibited while on campus and at all campus-related activities (except by law enforcement personnel or by others who are storing such in a locked vehicle in compliance with Section 411.2032 of the Texas Government Code).
  • “Campus Carry” (began 2016) allows individuals with a concealed handgun license to carry firearms on Texas university campuses. However, private universities may opt out. St. Edward’s University has opted out and will continue to prohibit weapons or firearms on campus or campus-related activities at all times.
  • Please contact the Dean of Students or the Office of Human Resources if you have questions or concerns and for updated information. Don’t ask me about this because I’m not an authority on this other than to tell you that St. Edward’s has opted out.