Grades are earned, not given. Students should not expect to earn a grade of an A by simply completing the assignments and showing up for class. I use a standard 100-point grading scale in which 90-100=A, 89-80=B, and so forth. Final grades will not be rounded up.

  • A work is considered superior or excellent. The student demonstrates deep critical thinking and sophisticated use of language throughout the semester.
  • B work is above average. It still meets the standards of A work but may not have the same level of excellence or consistency.
  • C work indicates satisfactory, college-level work.
  • D and F grades represent work that is below college level.

I will not discuss grades until at least 24 hours after handing back your work. This is to give you time to carefully review your work and my written comments on it. I will likewise not discuss grades over email. These matters can be discussed during my office hours or by appointment.

Late Work                  

All assignments are due at the beginning of the class period noted on the syllabus. Formal papers that are turned in late will be lowered one letter grade for each calendar day they are late.


The attendance policy is that there is no distinction between “excused” and “unexcused” absences. Every student is allowed a maximum of 5 absences. Any absence over that number will count directly against your final grade. I will deduct 5 percentage points from your final grade for every absence starting with your fifth. If you miss more than seven classes you will automatically fail the course.

There is no need to alert me of an upcoming absence. You may send an email as a courtesy, but please do not ask me to provide you with material that you missed. If you are absent on a day when written work is due, you are still responsible for completing the assignment. If it is not an online assignment, you should either send it with a classmate or email it to me as an attachment before the start of class. Please rely on your classmates to provide you with notes and announcements that you miss. You should also regularly check the course website for current information. I will not make an exception regarding an assignment because you were not in class when it was assigned or changed.


I am happy to respond to questions by e-mail, and I try to do so whenever possible within 24-48 hours. Before you contact me, however, please make sure the information you are seeking can’t be located either on the syllabus, the course website, or by asking one of your classmates. When writing emails, students should conform to acceptable email etiquette and use a salutation, correct language, and a closing with their full name.


I enjoy working with students to help improve their skills. I encourage you to use me a resource. Feel free to stop by my office hours or to make an appointment to discuss grades, assignments, readings, and any other matter related to the course or your future goals.

Digital Etiquette

To ensure responsible and attentive participation, all cell phones and/or other devices (iPods, etc.) should be turned off before you enter the classroom. If your phone rings once during class, we’ll laugh and I’ll ask you to turn it off. If your phone rings again during the semester, I’ll ask you to leave and this will count as an absence. If I see anyone sending text messages during class, I will also provide one warning and then mark you absent.

You may use a laptop or tablet to take notes in class. However, in-class laptops also present temptations that many students find irresistible. So to be clear: you may not use a laptop or tablet in class to follow a game, check your friends’ statuses on Facebook, respond to email, post a Tweet, etc. Such activities not only distract you but they distract anyone around or behind you. If you often seem distracted by what’s on your screen, I will ask you to put your laptop away, perhaps for the duration of the semester. If the problem continues, I will ask you to leave the class for the day; this will count as an absence.

Student Code of Conduct

USM’s policy is that students conduct themselves in a respectful manner in keeping with the academic environment. Among other things, this means maintaining polite discourse in class discussion and a non-combative attitude with both the instructor and fellow classmates. I reserve the right to ask any student not adhering to this behavior to leave the classroom and/or to drop the course.

Writing Center

Students should follow their own best practices when it comes to their writing practices, but all students can benefit from crafting multiple drafts and visiting the USM Writing Center. As stated on their website, “The Writing Center is a free tutorial service available to any USM student who wants assistance with a writing project. We offer one-on-one writing instruction that’s designed to help you become a more effective writer. This tutorial service is offered on a walk-in basis or by appointment (on the hour for 45 minutes). However, the appointments often book up several days in advance, so making an appointment is always a good idea.” The Writing Center is located in Cook Library. Appointments can be scheduled by phoning (601) 266-4821 or by vising their website located at


Plagiarism, which is the presentation of someone else’s words or ideas as your own, is a serious offense in the academic community and will not be tolerated. All instances of plagiarism will receive an automatic zero. In the case of the final project, instances of plagiarism will receive an automatic zero and result in a failure of the course. Plagiarism is defined in the USM Undergraduate Bulletin as follows: “Plagiarism is scholarly theft, and it is defined as the unacknowledged use of secondary sources. More specifically, any written or oral presentation in which the writer or speaker does not distinguish clearly between original and borrowed material constitutes plagiarism. Because students, as scholars, must make frequent use of the concepts and the facts developed by other scholars, plagiarism is not the mere use of another’s facts and ideas. However, it is plagiarism when students present the work of other scholars as if it were their own work. Plagiarism can be committed in a number of ways:

  1. Reproducing another author’s writing as if it were one’s own;
  2. Paraphrasing another author’s work without citing the original;
  3. Borrowing from another author’s ideas, even though those ideas are reworded, without giving credit; and
  4. Copying another author’s organization without giving credit.

Please feel free to ask if you are ever unsure about what constitutes plagiarism or if you need any help in synthesizing, quoting, and/or citing a source. For more information on plagiarism, visit the USM library website’s section on plagiarism: The library website also offers a Plagiarism Tutorial:

Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty can take the form of plagiarism and/or cheating, neither of which will be tolerated. The following is from the USM Undergraduate Bulletin: “When cheating is discovered, the faculty member may give the student an F on the work involved or in the course. If further disciplinary action is deemed appropriate, the student should be reported to the Dean of Students. In addition to being a violation of academic honesty, cheating violates the Code of Student Conduct and may be grounds for probation, suspension, and/or expulsion. Students on disciplinary suspension may not enroll in any courses offered by The University of Southern Mississippi.” 

Students with Disabilities

This course follows all university regulations for students with disabilities. If a student has a disability that qualifies under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and requires accommodations, he/she should contact the Office for Disability Accommodations (ODA) for information on appropriate policies and procedures. Disabilities covered by ADA may include learning, psychiatric, physical disabilities, or chronic health disorders. Students can contact ODA if they are not certain whether a medical condition/disability qualifies.

Address:  The University of Southern Mississippi / Office for Disability Accommodations / 118 College Drive # 8586 / Hattiesburg, MS   39406-0001

Telephone: (601) 266-5024 or (228) 214-3232

Fax: (601) 266-6035

Individuals with hearing impairments can contact ODA using the Mississippi Relay Service at 1-800-582-2233 (TTY) or email Suzy Hebert at

Mental Wellbeing Statement

USM recognizes that students sometimes experience challenges that make learning difficult.  If you find that life stressors such as academic workload, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, difficulty concentrating, alcohol/drug problems, or other stressful experiences are interfering with your academic or personal success, consider contacting Student Counseling Services on campus at 601-266-4829. More information is also available at  All students are eligible for free, confidential individual or group counseling services. In the event of emergency, please call 911 or contact the counselor on call at 601-606-HELP (4357).

Syllabus Changes

All parts of the syllabus and the course, including the schedule, are subject to change to meet the needs of students in the course. Please consult the course website for the most up-to-date information.

Submitting Work Electronically

All blog posts should be properly formatted and posted by the appropriate due date listed on the syllabus. If the posts are not properly formatted, points will be deducted. I expect you to take care in both the form and content of your work throughout the semester, paying attention to matters of design and formatting as much as content.