Posts Tagged ‘End of the Semester’

During my second-to-last class period of the semester, I was standing at the front of the classroom talking, as I often do during class, and the light above me went out. The power had not gone out. Nobody had inadvertently hit a light switch. Just one light, directly above my head, that decided it had had enough.

A few days later, when I arrived for my final class in the same course, the clock had stopped working. Its hands resting on the numbers indicating that class would start in ten minutes. The clock couldn’t stand the thought of even one more minute of class.

When I arrived for the final exam period this afternoon I began handing back an assignment from earlier in the semester when a student took a chair from the back of the classroom up to her usual spot. Looking around, I noticed that about eight chairs had decided to abandon their posts and wander off into a nearby alcove.

Professors often make jokes about students, but I appreciate the fact that despite our classroom’s insistence that the semester had ended, my students did not give in.

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links in your news feed, assuming your news feed doesn’t abandon you.

Read Full Post »

Other than grading, I associate the end of the semester with complaining, mostly about grading, but also about students and their complaints. The other day I was talking to a colleague who remarked that a student had recently asked why he didn’t get an A when his paper had all of the required parts. I noted that I include statements at the end of my syllabi about what each grade means in an attempt to inform students that simply meeting the requirements will not earn them an A. Of course, the fact that this statement is made of words and placed at the end of the syllabus probably means that few students are aware of it. During our discussion I started contemplating more effective ways of delivering this message. One way goes something like this:

Simply having all of the required parts of an assignment will not earn you an A. Think of the parts of a paper like the parts of a car. Just because you have all of the parts doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to drive anywhere, as this example shows:

You're not driving anywhere in this

You’re not driving anywhere in this

Simply having all of the parts might earn you a C. I hope that you’re not okay with a C. You can do better than that! Like writing a good paper, assembling a car takes a lot of work. Luckily for you, writing a good paper is actually much easier for most people than assembling a car. Of course, having all of the parts and connecting them is also not necessarily enough for an A, as this example shows:

2 - Prius Assembled

That’s good, but I still think you can do better!

Having all of the parts and assembling them in a way that resembles a paper might earn you a B. There are some obvious flaws here! There are grammatical errors all over the doors of this car! How, then, can you earn an A? An A paper should be more like this:

3 - Prius Complete

I bet Toyota proofread this before turning it in!

An A paper not only has all of the parts assembled in a way that resembles a finished product, it reflects the effort that went into creating it. An A paper does not have any glaring flaws (like, you know, a charred interior) and its appearance reveals that it has been well-maintained. It is clean and polished and hopefully even original. An A paper is not the result of somebody starting to write with the first sentence, stopping when he or she has fulfilled the requirements, and submitting the paper without proofreading. An A paper takes work. When you earn it, I will be happy to give you an A.

Read Full Post »

After a brief lull as the eye of the storm passed overhead, grading continued early this week. Now that the storm is passing it can be confirmed that a record amount of grading has taken place in the past week. This storm included:

  • 80 papers from three courses
  • 60 traditional exams from two courses
  • 20 take-home exams from one course
  • 30 research proposals from one course

The total? 190 assignments/exams graded in 14 days. While the weather can be unpredictable, I hope to never find myself in this sort of storm again!

Read Full Post »