Editing is a rhetorical act that requires an intimate understanding of audience. Audience is not one, homogenous thing. An audience might have cultural, ethnic, social, linguistic, neurodiverse or other differences from you—all of which an editor needs to attend to. Editors must be able to consider and work for readers and their needs. I am an outspoken advocate for accessibility, and my definition of access includes everything from student-scholars gaining access to knowledge in their classrooms that will help them succeed in their school, jobs, and life to ensuring that academic scholarship is published in the most accessible and sustainable ways possible.

Editing has taught me to be a better teacher of all students, and I expect this classroom to be a place where we can all be reminded of and learn from each others’ differences, making this space as accessible as possible for everyone. You will need that practice as an editor. Any student needing to arrange additional support for a documented disability should contact Accessibility Services: http://accessibilityservices.wvu.edu/, Phone: 304-293-6700; Email: Access2@mail.wvu.edu. Let me know, if you can, so I can change things to support your learning in the interim.

Also, please remember that my classroom and office are scent-free zones. I am highly allergic to chemical scents. Essential oils and other natural scents are OK.

I value how all aspects of your undergraduate education come together to form your learning and life experiences. In this class, you are editors-in-training and students, and I will treat you the same as I treat the editors who work for me at Kairos, as they are training to be better editors like you are. I expect you to learn about and follow the social and cultural conventions of professional editorial behavior, which I will help you learn during the semester. (These behaviors aren’t specific to academic editors—this is just the context in which we will discuss them this semester.)

I expect you to

  • come to every class,
  • make time to read everything assigned and to understand it (with my and the class’s help),
  • make theoretical and practical connections to your previous work and class experiences,
  • complete your assignments on time and with great attention to the big and small pictures,
  • provide thoughtful discussion in and out of class,
  • be flexible and patient, especially when it comes to difference and to technology,
  • conduct yourself in ways suitable to your class colleagues and myself, and
  • do excellent work, because there are too many average students out there trying to get jobs for you to bother with anything less than excellence.

I value

  • thought-out (or at least informed) questions rather than anecdotal interjections,
  • your bringing connections to light between classroom discussions and your prior experiences and other classes,
  • your being considerate and respectful of class members, technology, and me,
  • risk and creativity and multidisciplinarity and self-learning and helpfulness, and
  • aha moments, which can turn into great discussions, projects, or (later) honors theses, internships, memorable moments, projects external to your classes, or even jobs.

Overall, I expect you to push yourselves to learn, a process which can take many forms.

You should expect

  • a mentoring, but exacting, pedagogical approach,
  • an understanding that your academic life as a whole student isn’t just in this class (but this does not equate to a free pass to not prioritize this class when you are in it),
  • a personalized approach and enthusiasm for teaching about editing, which includes theory, practice, history, and technology,
  • an ability to go with the flow and to create learning scenarios that may sometimes seem out of the blue, and
  • a desire to help you find what kind of editor you are (or aren’t).

This class (and your classmates and I) should consider the following goals:

  • everyone contributes
  • find your way into the class to make it interesting for you
  • making connections to other classes/experiences you’ve taken
  • respecting others’ opinions
  • not interrupting other people, except to get us back on track
  • helping each other out
  • sharing relevant backgrounds/experiences when appropriate
  • respecting different learning levels (don’t get frustrated)
  • actually doing the work! (because it helps us all)
  • encouragement
  • …. WHAT ELSE??

Because this class focuses a great deal on professional development, editing academic texts, working with academic authors, and publishing, my grading schema reflects that professionalism. Assigning letter or number grades does not improve your learning, just as telling an author that the journal rejects hir work for publication — without any explanation as to why — makes hir a better writer in the profession. I have set up this class so you can achieve excellence by providing structured and sequenced assignments that enhance your critical and creative thinking as an editor, and by offering informal and formal feedback on your in-progress work.

Students who have taken my classes at WVU have complained in the past about a lack of feedback from me because they are expecting something different than what I am actually providing. They want grades and for me to point out their errors. I don’t give grades during the semester and pointing out errors is only a small component of the kinds of feedback you will get from me, so let me explain what feedback looks like in this class, so you can recognize it as something to ingest and learn from:

What is “feedback”?
Feedback often comes in the form of out-of-class conferences as well as informal, in-class discussions about your assignments and individual or group work. We will have a chance after every major assignment for you to revise based on feedback from me and your peers. Feedback does not just come from me. I will be training all of you to provide professional-level feedback to each other, and you will be expected to trust and follow each others’ feedback (with my guidance/modeling) as the semester progresses. Sometimes you will ONLY be getting feedback from your peers—because that helps us break your reliance on me-as-instructor when your boss will provide no such hand-holding for you. When I and your peers offer critiques of and suggestions for your assignments, we assume that you will implement those revision suggestions into your drafts. When you don’t, you should have a very good reason in relation to the purpose of the text for not doing so. (These purposes will become evident as we discuss the goals and criteria of each assignment.)

This feedback loop requires that you pay attention to the class discussions as much as to any written feedback we provide, and that you implement those suggestions in a timely manner that accommodates the assignment deadlines and your editorial colleagues’ needs. Finally, this feedback loops does occasionally involve the word No. Perhaps unlike some other English classes you’ve taken, where it may have seemed any answer is a suitable answer, in an Editing class, the purpose of which is to learn to produce error-free texts, I will occasionally need to correct you in class. Please know that I try to do this as gently as possible—my goal in correcting you is to teach everyone what the styles, workflows, and editorial situations require, never to belittle you for not knowing something. After all, you are here to learn.

I hope that this grading system will allow you the freedom and flexibility to take editorial leaps (i.e., risks and potential failures) while also providing time for you to re-envision and revise those products into more usable, sophisticated, and polished texts.

So, then, how do I grade?
Your grade is based on 100% class participation. Everyone in this class starts with a B/C. How you participate changes that grade higher or lower. Students in previous sections of my editing classes at WVU have earned As (see Tips below), Bs (for mediocre participation in class, usually related to group work, and 1-2 absences), Cs (usually related to multiple absences and some incomplete work), Ds (for lots of incomplete work and frequent absences), and Fs (for failure to turn in a large number of assignments or skipping out altogether). Choose which one you want to earn.

Participation includes

    • attendance: You are required to attend every class session unless the schedule specifically indicates that class is canceled that day. There are no such things as excused vs. unexcused absences—if you’re not here, I don’t much care why. Do not email me to ask permission to miss class; I’m not your mother. If your absence is caused by a funeral or similar extenuating emergency, I will take that into consideration when I am tabulating your absences. Attendance at out-of-class conferences with me is considered the same as class time. If you miss a conference, you will be counted absent. Here is a rough breakdown of absences vs. participation attendance grades, other participation items being flawless/excellent:

To make this grade = Don’t miss more than these # of classes:
A = up to 2 absences
B = 3–4 absences
C = 5–6 absences
D = 6–7 absences
F = 8 or more absences

  • timeliness: I expect you to treat this class like a job. If you show up late or leave early or fall asleep or need to walk your dog for 15 minutes in the middle of class, it will affect your participation. (I make exceptions for students who need certain accommodations.) Timeliness also refers to the time-sensitive nature of completing assignments. Late work is completely unacceptable, and neither I nor your classmates will give you feedback on it. If you miss deadlines on two assignments or are not timely two or more times during the term, you cannot get an A. (All assignments are weighted equally.) If you miss three or more, you cannot get a B. If you fail to turn in the final project on time, you cannot pass this class.
  • readiness: Readiness is different from timeliness in that it relates specifically to being prepared for class. You might show up late but still be prepared. All homework must be completed BEFORE class starts. For instance, printing of assignments or uploading of files after the class period has begun will result in a delay of class, which will negatively impact your grade. Being ready to discuss the readings is another factor that can impact your participation. This bullet also relates to any groupwork required, either in or out of class. Students tend to be penalized for readiness when they are consistently or multiply not ready—that is, you are not ready with your assignment every week for three weeks, or you pass work off late to your classmates more than one or two due dates. I am slightly more lenient during the first two or three weeks of class, as we learn new technology, but after the initial learning curve, I have less patience for ill-preparedness.
  • thoughtfulness: Thoughtfulness translates to critical awareness and participation in all manners of class activities. This may include activities such as having useful, productive questions or discussions based on homework (readings, assignments, or peer-review work), showing collegiality with your collaborators, or demonstrating thoughtful work in the assignments themselves. In addition (a note for those of you who like to talk a lot), thoughtfulness means that if you constantly need to share in class, but your sharing is largely off-topic, disruptive, or unhelpful, your participation may be more distracting than useful. I will probably talk to you about this before your grade suffers, but if you know this applies to you, work to reign it in. Thoughtfulness also applies to allowing others to speak up, and listening carefully, if you’re usually the first one with a hand raised. You can demonstrate your expertise in your assignments better than in a need to dominate discussions.

If you have questions AT ANY TIME about your grade potential, please make an appointment with me. If I believe that you are on a trajectory toward a C, D, or F, I will let you know by mid-term. If you’re participating in the basics of the class, then you’re probably passing (with a C) and should only be concerned with your individual goals for earning a B or A, described in more detail below.

Tips for earning an A
The grade of A is reserved for excellent work. Excellent work does not equate with showing up every day, participating once in a while, and turning in completed drafts on time. Those are the average requirements of any class setting, and average equates to a C in this academic setting.  Here are some ways to earn an A:

  • Produce excellent assignments. What constitutes excellence? Doing more than simply completing the terms of the assignment. Having flawless and thoughtful products. An excellent assignment may meet any number of qualities, depending on its purpose and genre but it will always consider how the details relate to the big picture and will implement that vision flawlessly in your work.
  • Participate excellently in class. Excellence in class participation means not simply speaking frequently, but all of the ways I mention in the class participation section above. As some examples, you should contribute in an active and generous way to the work of the class as a whole by having read and processed the chapters, asking questions, offering interpretations, politely challenging your classmates, graciously accepting challenges in return, and being a productive group member in discussions. Again, relating details, quotes, or concepts from the reading to the “big picture” of editing and editorial processes counts as excellence in participation.
  • Be an excellent citizen-scholar. Specifically, be able to demonstrate to me (through discussions, group work, and assignment that you (a) understand and can reflect on the content of this class and show continual progress toward that knowledge in your assignments; (b) reason logically, critically, creatively, independently and collaboratively, and are able to address editorial issues in both broad and detailed, as well as constantly shifting, contexts; (c) recognize and implement flawless and generous ways of thinking about and handling writers and texts in a variety of media; (d) understand diversity in value systems and cultures in an interdependent publishing world; and (e) develop a capacity for self-assessment and transferable learning.

Actions that will positively affect my evaluation of you as an excellent student:

  • having a collegial attitude
  • waiting for me to get settled when I walk into class by holding all questions until I am ready
  • bringing your materials to class every day
  • asking for help well in advance of a deadline
  • accepting responsibility for late or incomplete assignments
  • asking your classmates for missed content if you are absent
  • being attentive in class so that we avoid needless repetition
  • providing me assignments on time and in the medium I ask
  • asking your classmates (or Google) for help during open-lab sessions, then…
  • …if stumped, raising your hand, calling me, and waiting patiently for help
  • using email, appointments, or some other agreed-upon conferencing medium for private or involved questions
  • accepting that I usually respond to Slacks and emails quickly, except after 5pm or on weekends
  • understanding that strategic (and sometimes maximum) effort results in excellent work, but can sometimes only result in above-average work

REQUIRED TEXTBOOKS (available at the Book Exchange unless noted)

  • The Subversive Copy Editor, SECOND EDITION
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, SIXTH EDITION
  • Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (buy THIS edition online or available in DropBox)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (free through WVU Libraries)
  • other readings as assigned in the course DropBox