I’ve got 31 research papers left…

…and I’m facing a huge feeling of disappointment in many of my students, which then leads to disappointment in myself.

I tell my students every time a paper comes due that a “C” is actually very easy to get in an Intro to Comp class.  Here’s how it’s done:

1) edit your papers – avoid fragments and run-ons and other careless errors.

2) have a clear, debatable thesis at the beginning of your essay.

3) get MLA format correct.  I even put the guidelines on the back of their prompts for them to refer to as they write.

If those three rules are accomplished, I can practically guarantee that the student’s paper will earn at least a C.

BUT (and you knew this was coming) I could count on one hand the number of papers I’ve graded that actually seem to accomplish all three of the above rules.  Some students obviously haven’t proofed their papers (which leads to problems with #2 and #3).  Others want to tell me that Claudius is a devious guy in Hamlet, or that Hamlet considers suicide until the end of the play (hint: if I think “no shit, Sherlock” at the end of your intro. paragraph, you’re in trouble). And then there are those who seem to think MLA guidelines are more suggestions than hard and fast rules.  They’re not.

This is not to say I’ve only given a hand full of Cs.  Most of the time the editing isn’t too bad, and so that goes a long way with me (not to the extent of an A, but…).  But not bothering with #3 really gets on my last nerve, particularly after I spell out for them the directions both in class, on previous papers, and on the DAMNED PROMPT.

Papers will be given back Wednesday.

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4 Responses to “I’ve got 31 research papers left…”

  1. Juggernaut Says:

    Do your students even think that you might actually fail them? Or do you think they see same as an empty threat?

  2. For the semester? It’s happened before, and there will be some students who don’t get credit for the college class. And I definitely have had seniors who have not passed the “high school” class, too, though that’s less common. It’s not a threat, though – it’s fact.

  3. The Masked Commenter Says:

    …might I point out that you used the wrong “then” in “MLA guidelines are more suggestions then hard and fast rules.”? Tsk tsk tsk.

    But otherwise, it really annoys me when students blatantly disregard guidelines, advice, and plain common sense to turn in a completely shitty paper. I don’t know how you don’t go insane…

  4. I’ll defend myself (now that I’ve corrected said error) by pointing out that there was only one typo in almost 300 words of prose. And it wasn’t in my first sentence. So there 😀

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