Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Student Writing

Every so often students do things that pleasantly surprise me. For the first time in a number of years, I am requiring students to write a paper. Rather than give a test, I want them to take a speech they have heard this semester and analyze it. Tell me everything they can, well maybe not everything, but based on information in the textbook and class discussions, I want a three to five page, type written paper.

I actually do not think this is a difficult assignment. They have been doing mini-critiques of student speeches all semester. I told them about the paper the first class session and I have specifically pointed out certain lectures where the information could be used in the paper.

Although the paper is not due until the penultimate class session, I actually have two students who have already handed in the paper. I was pleased to see the students take the assignment so seriously and get it to me in advance. That, honestly, was a pleasant surprise.

There was something else, however, that was not a pleasant surprise. As I stated, it has been a number of years since I have assigned a paper. Student writing is atrocious. Grammar is poor, incorrect words are used and the ideas are hard to understand.

What scares me is, these papers were written by two of my better students, two go-getters and, honestly two students that I like. I am afraid to see what other students will give me. So, I told my students, if they submit the paper before the due date, I will review it and put comments on it, but no grade. I will then hand it back to them. They have the option of resubmitting the paper with no changes and taking the grade the paper originally earned (which as I said, they won’t know in advance) or they can revise it and resubmit it. I am curious to see who, if anyone, takes advantage of this.