Ugh… I’m getting tired just thinking about this topic. As you can tell from the title of this one, I’m going to write one or two entries about things that absolutely exhaust me. In truth, these are issues that last month which absolutely ran me ragged – to the point where I just wanted to curl up in a ball and go to sleep through New Year’s Eve! You guys know that feeling – the feeling of saying, “Ah, fuck it. I don’t need this shit.”
The first and most exhausting issue (and the focus of this entry) that presented itself last month was grading my students’ research papers. Holy cow. What a mess some of these things were to read (if you can call trudging through these papers “reading”). I’ve been teaching a course at the local college for the last three years. This Thursday will be the beginning of my fourth year teaching at the college and each year the writing gets worse and worse. First, I thought it was bad when one of my students spelled “before” as “b4” (yes, someone actually did that). Then, I thought it was bad when my students submitted works cited pages on opinion papers! But 2009 was a banner year for outstanding displays of ridiculousness.
I had students copy and paste directly from Wikipedia when they are submitting opinion papers. I will repeat that – and expand – for your delight. I assign a two page opinion paper to my students and ask for their feedback on certain issues. This paper is worth 5 points on their final grade. And some students used this as an opportunity to go to Wikipedia, copy and paste an entire entry on a topic, and submit that entry as their opinion. Are you serious?! Has the age of the internet and social media destroyed the minds of America’s youth to the point where they can’t form a fucking opinion?! Good grief!
But that was a two page opinion paper. What exhausted me last month was reviewing and grading an 8 to 10 page research paper where the quality of writing was generally less than high school level and the overall grammar, spelling, and flow of the papers was just as bad. Granted, of the papers that I read there were definitely two or three home runs and another three or four that were at least written at a college level. But the rest of them… to say that I was disappointed would not be doing justice to the life-sucking exhaustion that I felt reading through these papers. And the less-than-college-quality of the work spread across a variety of issues besides spelling, grammar, and flow. One student – in a research paper – wrote that members of a certain religion (of which I am a member) and white people are generally not offended or annoyed by the Nazi party.
Go back and read that last sentence again. Yes, that’s right. A college student suggested that one specific religion and people of a certain skin tone would actually condone the Nazi party. Absolutely outrageous.
Almost none of the students knew what it meant to properly cite their sources and even more had no idea what MLA or APA format meant. It was an exhausting exercise reading their papers – absolutely exhausting.
But I can’t say that these students haven’t made an impact on me. No, in fact they’ve pushed me to the point where I’m strongly considering reducing the amount of written pages that my students have to hand in each semester. Not to worry, though. I plan on replacing those written pages with presentations – another skill that students sorely lack these days.
Who said being an adjunct professor was easy?