Dear students,

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by chad, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    8 point font! And wouldn't 3/4 spacing layer lines on top of each other. Have some mercy. It's not like we read the extra pages anyway. ;)

    I'm of the "the paper should be of the length necessary to make its argument" school. Hell, I'm guessing when I set page limits anyway.
     
  2. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Something like that might happen in a large lecture class where there's not much interaction between the students and the professor, or if a student who is quiet in class turns in an exceptional paper. When that happens, it's simply a matter of meeting with the student and talking for a bit. I talked with a professor about the first paper I wrote in an English class in college -- she asked me some questions, I answered them, and it showed her I knew what I was doing. A history professor at the place where I work now, however, had the opposite experience: a student who talks in class all the time -- mostly to complain about how hard the reading is and how boring things are to her, turned in a paper that referred to "cultural imperialism" and "hegemony," etc... and had no idea what those words meant, nor even acted like she'd heard them before.

    So RARELY is someone likely to turn in something so good the teacher thinks it's plagiarized. Though that DID happen to the recently deceased playwright, August Wilson, when he was in high school. But that was before the internet, and there were racial overtones to the accusation, too.
     
  3. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    That happened to me a couple times when I was TA'ing. Exceptional papers from quiet students raise some red flags, but as you say, you can tell within 2 minutes of talking to students about the paper whether they know what's going on or not.

    The key, as a professor, is not to go in with the assumption that the paper is plagarized, unless you've got documented proof. I would always tell students I had some concerns because they rarely talked in class and ask them to 1. explain their argument, 2. tell me about their sources. If they can do that, I was fairly certain the paper was kosher.
     
  4. alliu23

    alliu23 I'm a Yank til I Die

    Jul 28, 2004
    Williamsport, PA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    its good if you are looking something up for your personal knowledge, if you want to get an idea about something

    but random people can add stuff in there, whether it's true or not

    there was just a story a few weeks ago about how someone wrote something in there, I dont remember if it was completely false or offensive.. something along those lines though
     
  5. Anteaters FC

    Anteaters FC New Member

    Mar 28, 2004
    Santa Monica
    I think you're talking about the case where a guy put up, as a prank, info in someone's biography (an ex-boss, as it turned out) that he was involved with the JFK assassination. The guy tried to get Wikipedia to remove the offending bit of the article, but it took a long time, and a lot of negative publicity.
     
  6. Anteaters FC

    Anteaters FC New Member

    Mar 28, 2004
    Santa Monica
    I always tell my students when I TA that I was an undergrad too, so I know all the tricks.
     
  7. alliu23

    alliu23 I'm a Yank til I Die

    Jul 28, 2004
    Williamsport, PA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    yep, that's it
     
  8. DutchFootballRulez

    Jul 15, 2003
    Baltimore, MD
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Do you let the students E-mail or Fax papers for submission?
     
  9. JohnW

    JohnW Member

    Apr 27, 2001
    St. Paul
    No, but it's in the syllabus that I don't accepted emailed papers. Our department has a fax, but you have to be a regent's professor to use it (joke).
     
  10. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Yes. Most of the time, it's a matter of being too verbose and an inefficient writer. Cut out the fluff and voila... better paper.

    I have had, on rare occasions, had students approach me and ask to be able to turn in a longer paper. W/in 30 seconds I can tell if it's b/c of verbosity or b/c they simply have reached the next level and can talk in depth about a subject that is 20% over the ability of the rest of the class.

    To put it simply, in grade school you begin writing complete sentences. Freshman year of high school: a coherent paragraph.
    Sophomore: short essay.

    Freshman college: 3 pg essay.
    Sophomore: 5 pgs
    Jr.: 7 pgs
    Sr. 10 pgs

    MA/PhD: 15-25 pg papers; masters thesis: 40-60 pgs.

    Doctoral thesis: 180+

    This is the rough guideline used in the humanities. If a student really is advanced and is pushing another level, I encourage that b/c in the end a successfully executed advanced paper is quite an accomplishment.

    Where the "execution" falls short most of the time w/ long papers is that they really are repetitive and/or verbose. No meat.

    Btw: my last 2 years I was a solid 4.0 in my major, and I consistently turned in papers that were less than the suggested length. Profs really appreciated the fact that I cut to the chase.
     
  11. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Don't ever start a paper w/, "Since the beginning of time..." :mad:
     
  12. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    That's right up there with "Webster's dictionary defines (insert topic here) as ..." which is basically another way of saying, "I'm not ready to start writing this paper yet. Excuse me while I warm up for a paragraph or two. If I'm lucky, I'll have something by page three."

    In the freshman comp trade, we call that sort of thing "verbal scaffolding."
     
  13. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    In high school my friend and I were accused of cheating because we both turned in essays about The Grapes of Wrath that had almost exactly the same points. We really were innocent--we hadn't even talked to each other about the assignment. I guess the teacher bought our denials because she didn't take it any further.
     
  14. alliu23

    alliu23 I'm a Yank til I Die

    Jul 28, 2004
    Williamsport, PA
    Club:
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    people actually do that?
     
  15. Ismitje

    Ismitje Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Dec 30, 2000
    The Palouse
    Club:
    Real Salt Lake
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Originally Posted by uclacarlos
    Don't ever start a paper w/, "Since the beginning of time..."

    Yes, as they have since . . . the beginning of time. (couldn't resist)

    I think the dictionary beginning depresses me more - do people imagin they just thought up a novel way to start an essay?
     
  16. Caesar

    Caesar Moderator
    Staff Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Oztraya
    I know, come on... if you're going to use a dictionary, Oxford is the only way to go.
     
  17. maturin

    maturin Member

    Jun 8, 2004
    It's the high-school english teachers who are responsible for those evil opening sentences. They ramble on and on about having an "interesting introductory method." Students don't realize that the method ceases to be interesting when everybody does the same thing.
     
  18. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Not in my class. Ever.

    But that's b/c I tell them not to do so.

    I also find that the essays are much better when I hand out the assignment on a hand-out that is typed and covers roughly a full page, complete practical info, expectations (beginning of time, 12 font Times New Roman, standard margins, etc.), due dates, the topic, starter questions, common pitfalls, etc.
     
  19. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Yeah, but I wouldn't necessarily place the blame on hs teachers, per se. The problem is quite complex. HS teachers are thoroughly overworked. In the US, the standard is to teach 5 hours/day, 25 hrs/wk. In Western Europe (at least Spain and France), it's 4/day, 20/wk, like many private schools here. Private schools in Spain: 3/day, 15/wk!!!!!
     
  20. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 New Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    The City
    Technically my original post was partial sarcasm, but there was some truth to it.
    Not to brag... :)
    Seriously? I was required, and had little problem writing 10 page essays/reports my sophomore year of high school; and I definetly had to write the occasional one freshman year too.
    Some of my best papers have been long, but I do agree that this is a skill a smaller percentage of people master.
    I wouldn't say I always wrote long papers, and I never had trouble keeping papers within length if I wanted to, but if I thought there was more worth saying, I'd make the necessary formatting adjustments. The small font and spacing were usually a result of a professor assigning a topic I could run with and requiring only a page be written. I always hated never being able to put down all my pertinent thoughts on a subject. It bugged the hell out of me.
     
  21. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    It's also students who have no ability to recognize good writing, so when the teacher says something like "I'd like you to add more detail," they use about 20 adjectives to describe someone's house, and the paper turns into more ******** than it already was.
     
  22. Anteaters FC

    Anteaters FC New Member

    Mar 28, 2004
    Santa Monica
    Then you would think the teacher would explain what s/he meant by "more detail", and to try to teach them how to recognize good writing.
     
  23. StrikerCW

    StrikerCW Member

    Jul 10, 2001
    Perth, WA
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I took AP english my senior year and it was the most hated class I ever took, I also got a C in there which, by my calculations, helped me not to get as much scholarship as I thought I was going to get (as it brought my 'GPA' down whilst my 'QPA' stayed the same).

    However, I took Eng Comp II (AP test out of I) this sem and it was the easiest class I ever took. The writing assignments we had in HS very well prepared me for those in this class. I ended up with a 97 or something along those lines.

    I don't know what this has to do with the topic, but it shows that some teachers can prepare you for writing in college, at least in my experiance.
     
  24. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    I know, but I was being very general. I just get tired of people that have no ability to write in AP English, looking like a bunch of asshats.
     
  25. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    To pick up on the short vs. long paper discussion, the thing most students fail to realize (and too many teachers and professors fail to teach them) is that a long paper requires quite a different architecture than a short paper.

    Any paper over 10 pages needs to have a paragraph early on that lays out what the paper will argue and the order that it will present its argument. As much as a thesis statement, it needs a paragraph that allows the reader to see the structure of the paper early on. Without this, it's far too easy to ramble afield of your argument or to leave the reader with no idea why this new information is being produced and how it relates to what's gone before. Without this paragraph, and without being conscious to remind the reader of the largesr argument, it's easy to lose your reader in a way that it's not in a 3 page paper.
     

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