Sunday, November 23, 2014

But whose failure is it?

Grading a pile of freshman papers at this point in the semester really should not make me feel like a complete and utter failure as a human being. After all, a few of the papers demonstrate an impressive ability to appeal to readers, assemble an argument, and employ evidence effectively to support that argument, and a few others reveal significant improvement in writing skills. I ought to focus on those instead of the others.

Oh, the others.

You don't want to know about the others.

Did they badly paraphrase whole paragraphs from sources and then tack on the barest hint of a citation at the end? Yes they did.

Did they copy and paste from an online source without even bothering to change the font so that the copied material fairly screams "Search me!"? You know they did.

Did they mangle their in-text citations and Works Cited listings in so many incomprehensible ways that it's virtually impossible to detect which source is actually being referred to at any given moment? Of course they did.

Did they upload the wrong paper to the course management system? Don't even get me started.

This isn't even the final paper of the semester; these students have one more opportunity to prove to me that all the work we've been doing all semester long has actually made some sort of impact on their skills. Maybe it's not too late! Maybe they'll all spend Thanksgiving break working extra-hard to make sure the final paper is a resounding success!

And maybe I've got cranberry sauce where my brains should be. 


Bardiac said...


Sometimes, teaching doesn't feel very rewarding, alas.

Anonymous said...

Click your heels together three times and say: "I am making a difference. I am making a difference. I am making a difference."

Bev said...

Click click click...wait, suddenly we're back in black-and-white again! What happened?

radagast said...

Sing it, sister. Too true.

Contingent Cassandra said...

If they do any of it even just a little bit better than when they started (or even if they learn from you that this um, stuff, won't fly in college), you've made progress.

But yes, it does get discouraging, especially at this time of year.

Rebecca said...

And I thought it was just my students doing these things.