Teaching Policies & Guides

Welcome! I believe college classes should be challenging but also, as much as possible, fun. Hopefully this helps students take the first step, which is to be interested in learning. I became interested in legal and environmental history because of the ways that both law and human relations with the environment develop over time and shape our choices here and now. Because studying the legal and environmental past requires careful analysis of often challenging types and varieties of evidence, these fields also provide excellent ways to hone one’s skills of analysis and critical thinking.

Although I give students some of the material below in course syllabi or on essay assignments, this page provides much more detail on some topics (e.g., the writing guides) and covers others for which no class handout is provided (e.g., the study tips and the detailed grading rubric).

For my lecture-format classes, which range in size from about 30 students to 70 or more, see this guide on my policies concerning Lecture Attendance and Participation.

For classes with a small-seminar format (12-21 students), in discussion sections led by a TA, and in small-to-medium-sized mixed lecture and discussion classes (22-30 students), participation counts for a significant part of the course grade (from 15% to 20%). See these Guidelines for Participation: Small Classes

For tips on reading, taking lecture notes, and learning the material, see these study tips:  The Four Steps to Success. To help in preparing for exams, see also: The Three Types of Exam Question.

For guidance in writing essays and papers, see the following:

  • Key guidelines & a short grading rubric (2 pages): Essential Essay Guidelines.
  • For writing style, see: this 4-page Style Guide; and the UW Writing Center’s 3-page Checklist of Common Errors.
  • How to cite evidence and paraphrase and quote sources–while avoiding plagiarism (7 pages).
  • For research papers that use outside (unassigned) sources, please follow the Chicago Manual style, as explained in this Quick Guide (clicking on the tab for footnotes & bibliography). For more detail, see the UW Writing’s Center’s 8-page pdf.
  • For individualized help with your writing, besides coming to me, you can also make appointments or just drop in at either: the History Department’s new History Lab; or the English Department’s much larger Writing Center (the latter’s website also has  additional materials and guides).

See this Detailed Grading Rubric for more explanation of essay grading criteria.