Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Finals Grading: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

It's that time again -- well, it's been that time for the last week and a half, and yesterday I posted two sets of grades, so I have two left (my biggest class and my smallest class). Lots of eyestrain, lots of Euro-trance music for motivation (DJ Tiesto FTW!), lots of pounding the desk with my head in frustration.

Good: So-so student who showed up, did the work, but never seemed to really "get it" and her grades reflected that. I helped her pick a book I thought would interest her for her term paper, which it did, and she knocked that sucker out of the park, so far out on to Waveland that she pulled an "A" for the class. Woohoo!

Bad: Take-home final so dog-eared (after a long weekend in the student's possession) that it was falling apart as I graded it. It also reeked so strongly of smoke that I had to air it out before I could stand to grade it. Sign you smoke too much: When your professors can't grade your papers without coughing fits.

Ugly: When it says in all caps on the instructions for the paper "NO FIRST OR SECOND PERSON," I wasn't actually kidding. Hence the all-caps.

When I said, "You may not cite to Cliff's Notes or SparkNotes," I wasn't kidding about that either. Hence the italics.

"Everybody's immoral in America today," is actually an assertion, not a fact that backs up your thesis that some philosopher was right about moral decay.

Inserting random numbers in your text is not actually "citation." (And you thought I wouldn't check, ha!)

Britney Spears does not work for Disney; Jamie-Lynn worked for Nickelodeon and is the one who got pregnant at 16. (At least get pop-culture references correct! And it's "Britney," not "Brittany.")

Eight pages describing the plots of random Japanese movies I have never heard of is not actually a thesis, particularly when the paper never even mentions the book it's ostensibly about.

On a final note: Staplers are not strange and exotic creatures that can only be captured by the light of the full moon in the deepest forests of Borneo. You can actually purchase them at the grocery store. Maybe even a red Swingline. For the love of God, students, BUY STAPLERS AND USE THEM.


postsimian said...


Katie said...

Red Swingline...Very funny!

Cory said...

If you want to get technical, Tiesto is more progressive trance. Euro-trance is characterized by a thicker mid-low frequency on the bass drum extended longer through the beat than what Tiesto spins. But I guess I'm splitting hairs. :)

Jennifer said...

I'm in awe of your teaching stories. I can imagine being a poor student in a not-showing up to class" kinda way (I was that student many years ago!). I can imagine being that overachieving, I must get an A on everything student (I was that student a couple of years ago), but the sheer craziness of turning in absolute crap, well, that's somehow just shocking to me!

Eyebrows McGee said...

Cory, that makes you and me 2 of the 10 people in Illinois who know who Tiesto is. :D

(I figured "Euro-trance" would help people figure out it was European electronica-ish club music that they probably heard on a movie once. :D )