Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Eternal questions

When I ask interesting questions in a class in which students have just taken a reading quiz demonstrating that they know the answers, why oh why do they sit there staring blankly as if I were speaking Swahili?

When I insert extensive marginal comments into a student's draft and then he makes an appointment to meet with me to discuss his draft, why oh why can't he read my comments first? And then when I ask him why he hasn't read my comments and he tells me that he can't read attachments on his cell phone and then I ask why he doesn't read it on one of the many computers over in the library or in a computer lab and he has no coherent response, why oh why am I surprised?


Contingent Cassandra said...

I think the answer to #1 is a fear of being wrong out loud (and a corollary sense that there's a right and wrong answer, and lack of a sense that throwing something out into discussion to be batted about and added to and subtracted from is a productive sort of activity, to be expected in a classroom).

I'm going to call #2 sheer laziness, but that might just be my own frustration talking. If I only I could identify the c. 10-25% of my students who will actually read and act on my comments, the great majority of my pedagogical problems would be solved (because then I'd have time to comment thoroughly on those students' work, and would just grade the others' work, and we'd all be happy, or at least, in the case of students who don't like their grades but don't read the comments, no more unhappy than we are now).

Bev said...

I've had this problem for several years: students try to do everything on their phones, including things those phones can't do. I teach both of my freshman classes in a classroom in the library, so they can't say that they're not aware of all the computers available there, but nevertheless I've had several students over the past few years who complain that they can't read my comments on their papers on their phones and they can't (or won't) figure out any other way to read their college e-mail. I have one who won't use e-mail at all but instead insists on text-messaging, but since I don't give my cell-phone number to my students, this kid uses a text-to-voice message service, sending me a text message that gets transformed into an automated voice on my office phone. Seems like a lot more trouble than it's worth.

Contingent Cassandra said...

I actually include in the welcome/warning letter I send to my junior-level writing-in-the-disciplines students, and in my syllabus, the stipulation that it's a class in long-form academic writing, and they need to do most of their work on a device with a screen at least as large as an average book/journal page. I also tell them they need a word processing program that will allow them to read and make comments (open office works, so this isn't an expensive requirement, but yes, it does require using a non-phone device).

One can also print Word documents with comments to PDF, which might be more easily readable on a phone, but, really, the kid simply needs to make a habit of stopping by a computer regularly (our school also requires students to check email regularly, and sends various sorts of important notices that way and only that way, so I have some backup on that. Also, I no longer have an office phone due to budget cuts, and I don't give out my personal phone #s, so, unless they want to keep calling the English Dept. receptionist and asking her to email me -- which is an option, but one which doesn't really facilitate an answer -- they're stuck using email).