311: Policies


SFU’s official policy is that you must submit all major assignments in order to pass the course, regardless of your calculated grade: all four essays, at least half the quizzes, and at least half the face-to-face classes.



All essays will receive letter grades, not percentages. This course does not use percentages, nor does the University. The only time I will employ the percentage conversion (below) is for your quizzes.

Letter Grades
Four-Point  Scale
Percentage  Scale
A+ 4.3 95%
A 4.0 90%
A- 3.7 85%
B+ 3.3 80%
B 3.0 75%
B- 2.7 70%
C+ 2.3 65%
C 2.0 60%
C- 1.7 55%
D 1.0 50%
F 0.0 0%


Essay Grades and Comments

I mark essays on a seven-category matrix. You receive a grade in each category (A, B, C, D, or F), and the average of all seven is your grade for the essay. The categories are as follows:

  • Logic (Log): thesis, reasoning, avoiding fallacies
  • Evidence (Evi): clearly defined premises, appropriate quoting/citing
  • Structure (Str): opening/closing paragraphs (thesis/conclusion, overview/review), body paragraphs (topic sentences, quotation/explanation, transition)
  • Language (Lan): clarity, concision, readability
  • Grammar (Gra): parallelism, subject/verb agreement, verb tenses, singular/plural/gender agreement, third-person/second-person, etc.
  • Format (For): adherence to MLA formatting, including citation (parenthetical and bibliographical)
  • Total Impression (Imp): cleverness, originality, complexity, depth

When you receive your essay, there will be comments on the side of the page, corrections in the sentences, and a table with grades in each category. It will look like this:

Log Evi Str Lan Gra For Imp Grade
B A A A B A A A-

NB: There will be no summary statement on your paper unless I feel one is necessary. The notes in the margins are my comments.



All essays are due at the beginning of class, after which the essay is “late.” Late essays take a -1 penalty per day, including the day on which they were due (e.g., an “A” becomes an “A-“, a “C-” becomes a “D,” etc). That’s the equivalent of 5% a day, or a full letter grade every three days.

All essays require a Works Cited page. Any essay that doesn’t have one is considered “late” until such time as you get that page to me.

I accept all essays by email (okidder@sfu.ca), and I return them by email. Send a text file in one of the following formats:

  • .odt (OpenOffice/LibreOffice)
  • .doc or .docx (MS Word)
  • .RTF (Rich Text Format)
  • .pages (Apple)

Do not send a PDF. I cannot mark a PDF. 

Pro Tip: To properly format your essay, watch this video and follow every step. (NB: This video is for MLA 7, but the formatting of the page is the same. And yes, the host is pretty goofy, but he knows what he’s talking about!)



You get one (1) free extension. You can invoke it right up until the moment the assignment is due—you can come to me just before class and say “I would like to take the extension,” for example—and it moves the due date one week, to 8:30am the next Tuesday. I do need the request by email, as well, so that there’s a written record. The extension applies to the rough draft’s due date as well. If you need another extension, then you must provide documentation of an injury/illness or personal emergency.


Academic Dishonesty

The function of education is to expose students to new knowledge and skills. The function of assignments and tests is to see if the students have absorbed that knowledge or those skills. Therefore, using other people’s work and pretending it’s your own is the exact opposite of learning. It maintains your ignorance, and ignorance is the enemy of education.

Academic dishonesty includes all of the following activities:

  • Cheating: giving and/or receiving unauthorized assistance in any exercise or examination
  • Plagiarism: representing the words or ideas of others as if they were your own
  • Falsification: inventing or falsifying information, citation, or data in any exercise
  • Multiple Submission: submitting substantial portions of any academic exercise more than once for credit without the prior approval of the instructor
  • Complicity: facilitating any of the above actions or doing anther student’s work
  • Interference: hampering other students from performing their assignments

The consequences of academic dishonesty include, but are no limited to, failing the assignment, failing the course, and expulsion from the University. The exact consequences depend on the severity of the offence and whether the student has committed multiple acts of academic dishonesty.


Attendance and Lateness

You are ultimately free to choose to miss a class, but I do take attendance to help determine your Participation mark, so I don’t encourage it. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to get notes from a classmate; do not ask me to summarize a three-hour class for you in five minutes, and never ask me “if” we did anything important; we always did something important.

If you’re late for a class, just enter the room as quietly and respectfully as you can. If you’re consistently late, then take responsibility! Figure out what’s making you late and stop that.



When you send me an email, remember that I’m an English professor, so use full sentences and proper spelling. Also, start with a greeting (e.g., “Hello, Orion.”) to make me feel like a person. Remember, also, that your subject line is essentially the title of the email, so use it to describe what the message is about (e.g., “Eng 199: Essay #3, citations”). Finally, do not respond to an old message with a new question and retain the old subject line; it’s lazy and confusing.


Classroom Etiquette

The only way we can have useful discussions in class is if we’re respectful towards each other. That means that we do not interrupt and talk over people, we phrase criticism constructively, and we refrain from all bigoted remarks (racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, classist, xenophobic/Islamaphobic, ablist, etc; you know what I’m referring to). We will discuss all of these issues in class, but we will do so respectfully.