In addition to my teaching and research, I have some other skills that are relevant to my work as an academic:
I first learned how to make webpages on a whim back in 2006 when I asked a roommate to teach me HTML. Since then, I've designed over a dozen websites, each one helping me to expand my skills and stay familiar with changing trends and protocols. Let's see, there was the book club site built on Wordpress, the mixed-tape and choose-your-own-adventure sites I wrote to woo my girlfriend (now wife), the informational site I volunteered to create for a crèche exhibition put on by a local church, and a series of websites I've used to supplement my university teaching.
Screenshot of the Assignments page of my former course website.
The most important improvement to my skills came as I learned about accessible web design, that is, creating websites that can be fully accessed by all users regardless of visual, hearing, mobility, or other impairments. Accessible design is important because it is ethical and inclusive, and in education it is doubly so because Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires a high level of accessibility for the websites and course materials used at virtually every university. I learned about accessible web design in a class taught by Sean Zdenek at Texas Tech where we split our time between the theoretical (reading and discussing major works in disabilities studies) and the practical (testing websites for accessibility, creating closed captioning, etc.). Since then I've endeavored to ensure all my websites and course materials are compliant with WCAG 2.0, and I periodically perform usability tests on my sites to improve their functionality. Additionally, in the past few years I've taught students, both face-to-face and online, who experience different physical impairments, and I've used their feedback to further improve my work.
Currently, I am conversant with HTML 5 and CSS and am familiar enough with PHP for some applications. I typically hand code my sites because doing so increases my learning and keeps my markup semantic and clean, though the increasing complexity of the web makes that ever more difficult. Recently, I've been using Bootstrap, an open-source toolkit that facilitates making responsive, mobile-first, accessible websites that work across the wide variety of browsers and devices.
This website, sdavidgrover.com, is an example of my ability to code accessible, responsive webpages. Go ahead and change the window size, or open this page on another device, or use a screen reader. It should respond by being readable and usable regardless of how you access it. (Of course, I'm not perfect, and achieving accessibility is an ongoing effort — if you find anything amiss, please contact me so I can improve my practice.
I am an experienced editor and have worked professionally in scholarly, literary, and technical capacities.
As an undergraduate, I completed an internship with and then continued to work for the Religious Studies Center, the publishing arm of BYU's School of Religious Education, where I became familiar with scholarly editing, professional printing, and group editorial processes. I worked as part of a team of copy editors, typesetters, research assistants, and senior editors as we guided manuscripts from acceptance and review to fact-checking, editing for clarity, and proofreading and on through typesetting, galley-proofing, and publication. During my time with the RSC, I worked on monographs, anthologies, scholarly editions of historical texts, and an academic journal, The Religious Educator.
Two of over a dozen books I worked on at the RSC, plus an issue of The Religious Educator.
I was even asked to research and write an article for the journal detailing the history of an endowed chair at the university.
Grover, S. D. (2008). Bridges of friendship: The Richard L. Evans Chair for Religious Understanding. The Religious Educator, 9(2), 61–72.
As a master's student, I worked as the managing editor of Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, one of the best known literary magazines devoted to creative nonfiction. Founded by Dinty W. Moore, Brevity has weathered the turbulent literary publishing scene for nearly two decades. As managing editor, I oversaw the submission and acceptance process, and I also worked with accepted authors to hone their brief essays for publication.
I also presented on my experience and insight as an editor at the 2010 AWP Conference in Denver.
Grover, S. D. (2010, April). The long and short of it: The evolving shapes of creative nonfiction. Paper presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference, Denver, CO.
During my doctoral program, I added technical editing to my experience by studying with Angela Eaton (who literally wrote the book). As a freelance technical editor, I've worked on some major projects including dissertations in accounting and linguistics, an NIH grant proposal, and a proposal for a $30M construction project to benefit a remote Alaskan community endangered by global warming. I'm currently working with a tabletop game company on ensuring the instructions and materials for their upcoming release are clear and correct. As a self-employed technical editor, I engage in the following activities:
In addition to the standard tasks of substantive editing, copyediting, and proofreading, I have taken on jobs that call for expertise in document design, so I have become skilled at Adobe InDesign and have developed as a typographer and visual designer.
These pages from an construction project proposal are an example of my editing, visual, and document design.
Lastly, I regularly donate my skills by helping local residents with resumes and applications for work and school.
I believe that mentorship is one of the most important aspects of a professor's work as well as one of the greatest joys. I myself was mentored at key stages of my education, most notably as an undergraduate just getting comfortable with the idea of being an English major, a writer, and, potentially, a university professor. I received an ORCA Mentorship grant to work with Pat Madden on an honor's thesis of personal essays; Pat's tutelage built my confidence as a writer and scholar and resulted in my first publications as well as an AWP Intro Journals Award. The grant also helped pay for a study abroad in London where I was able to forge close relationships with my professors and see a scholar's life up close, which led me to visualize such a life for myself.
Left: Atop Loughrigg Fell near Dove Cottage and Grasmere in the English Lake District. As a study abroad student, I was able to see scholars' lives up close while living in the BYU London Centre with our professors and their families. Right: At the end of the trip, I gave an impromptu lecture (in an impromptu toga) about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Little did I know it would be the first lecture of an actual career in academia.
A big part of my mentoring is focused on helping students from all majors see themselves as college students who can be successful. At the universities at which I've taught, so many of my students have not been traditionally "college ready" and those who are often don't see themselves that way. They struggle with confidence and courage, time management and self-regulation — just as I did as a student, and I do not hesitate to share with them stories of my own failings: of dropping out of college the first go-round, of earning my first degree eight years after graduating high school, of being more scared of writing than any other type of assignment or test, even to this day.
In many of my classes we talk about the "Academic Toolbox" — those skills such as reading, listening, note-taking, memorizing, testing, and writing that most university classes assume you have and do not teach directly — and students do a semester-long project to sharpen an academic skill of his or her choosing. This project never fails to elicit the most enthusiastic feedback of the semester as many students, often for the first time, find themselves empowered to overcome obstacles that they thought they were fated to suffer from forever.
At the end of the term, students do science fair-style presentations on their semester projects. Here are some examples of the sorts of weaknesses students work on and the plans they come up with to overcome them.
The following are just a few examples of how my mentoring has had an impact on students beyond the classroom.
Valerie was — by a fair stretch — my most successful student the semester she took English 1302 from me at Texas Tech, earning a high A and participating confidently in class each day. So you can imagine my surprise when she came to my office in the latter half of the semester and told me her story. This was her first semester at TTU, having transferred from Texas A&M because she'd been on academic probation and likely to fail out. She told me she'd been antisocial and all-but-addicted to World of Warcraft.
She then told me that my teaching had helped her turn it all around, that she'd appreciated my approach not only to teaching writing but to teaching self-regulation strategies and exercising agency. What had particularly resonated with her, apparently, was when I pointed out, at the beginning of the semester, that since none of us knew each other, if we pretended to be great and capable people, everyone would just assume we'd always been that way. Valerie had started pretending, and she not only fooled all of us; she fooled herself as well.
The following is from an email she sent me the following semester:
I also wanted to thank you again for being such a great teacher. I have been using all the skills that I learned in your class, and so far this school year I haven't made lower than an A on any paper that I've written! It's also been a lot easier for me to write; I don't get as nervous as I used to, and I don't doubt my writing as much as I used to either.
Thank you also for not only being my professor, but a friend as well. It was pretty lonely for me last semester with being a new transfer to Tech, but whenever I came to your office hours you always greeted me with a warm welcome which made me that much more motivated to try my best (and talking about WoW was pretty awesome too). I'm proud to say that I'm finishing another semester on the President's List, and the enthusiasm and motivation you exuded in our class last semester was and still is the fuel for that. I've had many great professors here so far, but you still are the best!
From an email I received from Mikayla a few weeks before her graduation:
In your class, we wrote letters to the president about social problems occurring in the country. If you remember, I researched and wrote about sex trafficking. Because of this project, I became interested in the occurrence of this social problem. In another class, I learned that I could prepare and teach a course in sociology - this would give me the ability to teach others what I had learned about sex trafficking and give me 3 credits toward graduation. While writing this research paper for your class, I set aside the best research articles regarding sex trafficking and started to organize my class ideas.
The first time I taught the course, I had 28 students. Almost every student was as interested in the topic as I was and some of them wanted to join organizations like Operation Underground Railroad or work for task forces that find victims and get them the help they need. I was amazed at how much I could teach them, and I enjoyed researching the answers to questions I couldn't answer in class. I realized how much I loved teaching. I decided to pursue teaching as a career.
I taught the course a second time without incentive (pay or credits). I had 35 students in this class who were just as eager to discuss what can be done to prevent sex trafficking, protect victims and prosecute criminals. I realized that I had some skills I hadn't recognized before - researching and teaching. I asked a professor to help me build a resume that would appeal to teaching professions.
I am graduating with a bachelor's degree in sociology and a certificate in criminology this semester. In your class, we often discussed how to be critical thinkers and how to act for ourselves. I decided in your class that I wasn't going to graduate in 4 years. I was going to do it in 2. I started my education in January 2016 and am receiving my diploma in December 2017. I will be starting my online master's in sociology program through ASU in 2018....
From your class, I learned how to get off the conveyor belt and start thinking for myself. I learned how to find my passion and how to cultivate my skills! I appreciate your support through all of it and for following up with me to see if I was still achieving my goals. Hopefully, I will be able to mentor students in the way you mentored me!
One day, Brianna came to my office hours for advice on a job interview she'd soon have. She was one of my rare students who, when given a choice of writing textbook, chose not the shortest nor the cheapest book, but an advanced one that applied to her major and career goals. The job was an on-campus position working in instructional design for the university's Pathway initiative, a online college-readiness program for prospective students. After the semester ended, she sent me this email:
Thank you so much for such a fantastic semester!! I looked forward to your class everyday, it was such a fun way to learn. I also want to say thank you for pushing me in my writing. It definitely payed off, I GOT THE JOB WITH PATHWAY!! I cannot believe I'm going to get paid for my writing, it's such an awesome opportunity. I honestly owe a lot to the fact you had us read those writing manuals because I was able to pull it out at one of my interviews when I was asked if I was currently reading any books. It impressed my future employers because at the start of our shifts we read from writing manuals! I also totally recommend The Sense of Style to my fellow comm majors and anyone else wanting to better their papers.
Though I have never had a named position in writing program administration, I can claim considerable leadership and mentoring experience that is relevant to such work.
As a lecturer and graduate instructor at Texas Tech, I worked closely with Susan Lang as part of the school’s innovative writing program. Experienced “classroom instructors” were teamed with novice “document instructors” in cohorts; members of the cohort worked together to grade and give feedback on all student work across 5–8 sections of first-year writing. This process required close collaboration among cohort members to ensure reliable and consistent grading, and Dr. Lang relied on me as a mentor in my cohorts, guiding new instructors as they developed confidence and skill, first as graders and later as classroom instructors. Dr. Lang asked me to serve as one of the assistant directors of the program, but personal circumstances prevented me from filling the position at the time.
In my current position, I’ve been consulted on numerous occasions by colleagues seeking my expertise in face-to-face and online writing instruction. I’ve also informally mentored other department members whose backgrounds are not specifically in composition, and I started a Slack team for adjuncts so we could share our experiences and offer each other advice.
One of the benefits of not having had an official leadership position in my career yet is that I’ve had extra time to reflect on what my leadership can and should look like. I’m committed — in ways I might not have been able to see had I been in decision-making roles earlier on — to proactively working for equal representation, power, and respect among people of all backgrounds in whatever program I am a part of. I’ve particularly been made aware of differences in how men and women are treated in academia — by their students, their colleagues, and their supervisors — and though I cannot see or know every way my actions may affect another, I am becoming ever more self-aware and am committed to pursuing an empathic, reflective leadership and management style.
I’ve contributed to curriculum development with my creation of a new synthesis unit for composition courses; its major assignment is called the Current Event Coverage Report and has been adapted for use by many of my colleagues as well as by the Utah State University writing program. I've formally presented the unit to my department and shared it on the WPA-L listserv, and I presented on it at the CCCC Annual Convention in 2018. Additionally, one of the texts I wrote to supplement the readings I collected, called "The Journalism Continuum," has been adopted by BYU–Idaho as part of its textbook for Foundations of English 301. I'm currently working on additional readings to further supplement my classroom instruction.
During my doctoral program at Texas Tech University, I spent several semesters working as a tutor at the University Writing Center (UWC). Under Kathy Gillis's leadership, the UWC specializes in working with EFL students, an important mission since TTU has been designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution and attracts many international students to its petroleum engineering and other programs. As a tutor, I developed my skills working one-on-one with both undergraduate and graduate students and their writing — a great counterpoint to working collectively with students in a classroom. Additionally, I received training in and gained experience with online tutoring.
As an undergraduate at Brigham Young University, I spent two years in the Writing Fellows program working under Beth Hedengren. The program pairs peer mentors with students in courses that are typically not writing intensive and works with instructors to design better writing assignments and assessments. As a fellow, I mentored thirteen to sixteen students each semester on two major writing assignments each. For each assignment, that included written feedback to each student's first draft and a subsequent 20-minute face-to-face meeting to discuss further revisions. As a senior fellow, I also coordinated my team's interaction with the course instructor and worked closely with program administrators to fulfill the objectives of the program. Additionally, I researched and delivered presentations on peer mentoring-related topics during regular program workshops.
A big part of WPA work is the day-to-day management of operations and people, and I have considerable experience in that area as well. For example, as a teenager I was involved with Boy Scouts and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Over seven years of activity I performed hundreds of hours of service projects and took on various leadership positions including senior patrol leader (the top youth position in a troop). I also completed week-long specialized leadership training camps — Junior Leader Training Conference (JLTC) at the regional level and National Junior Leader Instructor Camp (NJLIC) at the national level — and later twice staffed my region's JLTC. As an adult I spend a year as an assistant scout master.
As an undergraduate, I volunteered with the BYU Student Association as the concert series program manager. For two years, I was responsible for overseeing the organization and production of two major on-campus concerts, each one a two-night event with multiple artists. I volunteered hundreds of hours of my time to ensure the success of the events by completing the following:
When I took on the position, the yearly concert was a one-off, but my team's goal was to prove that a concert series was financially and practically possible. In addition to planning our events, we kept detailed records and put in place protocols that would enable future organizers to save time and effort. We were successful in creating an ongoing concert series of several shows each year.