Friday, November 27, 2009

Grading WTF-of-the-day

Why on earth would anybody think it was a good idea to turn in a seven-page research paper, written for an upper-level English lit course, without any paragraph breaks?

What's next? In a few years, will I have to tell them to use sentences?

8 comments:

Annie Em said...

i have read two essays this weekends that had many (really, many) sentences that began without a capital letter (as this comment illustrates).

i'm guessing it's the result of texting (NOT that this makes it less of a WTF).

thus, in keeping with the holiday spirit, i'm thankful for ALL of the other essays with correct capitalization (and now, paragraph breaks).

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

How about a grad student who turns in what is more or less a book report on a 1948 article, no textual analysis whatsoever?

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I have a grad student in my Shakespeare class who routinely turns in response papers without paragraph breaks. He writes between 2-3 pages usually, and it's very annoying. I don't know how you'd think it was okay to write a much longer paper without paragraph breaks. Geez...

Sisyphus said...

*headdesk*

I am pouring an extra strong martini and sending it to you, stat.

Ceirseach said...

Ack ack ack. I have a two-page-long paragraph in the latest batch, but at least they recognise that paragraph breaks should ideally exist here and there.

We are already well past the point, though, where we have to explain in person to every single student that, no, just because MS Word didn't put a red wiggly line under it DOES NOT MEAN it's spelled right and yes, you have to actually know how to spell your own language for yourself.

As for the ones who plagiarise off Wikipedia and Amazon.com... the really sad thing there is the bit that they plagiarise tends to be plot summary.

Bardiac said...

Ah, that lovely time of the semester, when despair meets insomnia in partnership. The only answer is F.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Bardiac -- I don't think it was a failing paper, as such -- I mean, the student did do some other things right, such as using quotations and documenting them properly, and having an argument that the text more or less supported. But I may be a ridiculously soft touch.

dance said...

Wow. My head might explode if I got a 7-pp, 1 paragraph paper. Honestly, because:

I consistently tell my students that if a paragraph is over a page, they need to stop and reevaluate. And will write in the margins "para too long". And break it down in my comments---"see, that paragraph is 1.5 pages and you introduce 3 different ideas. ONE IDEA, ONE PARAGRAPH." If too many people mess it up, I make them chant ONE IDEA, ONE PARAGRAPH in class when I hand back the papers. (j/k)

That is all to say, I probably spend more time talking about what paragraphs are suppposed to do and how they should work than any other single aspect of writing. Sometimes they say it's new to them.