Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seriously - they can't READ?

I have 40 students. Yesterday, I handed out 40 syllabuses. (Well, actually 41. Someone came to my class, realized halfway through she was in the wrong section, found her real class, and then came back to see if she could be in my class instead, because I'm "cooler." Which is, of course, true.) Today I have received 13 emails asking me what the assignment is for tomorrow.

On Sunday, I sent them an email with the syllabus attached, as well as the readings for Wednesday and Friday. Labeled. With dates.

Yet still, 13 bright little sparks want to know if they're supposed to read anything for tomorrow.

It's going to be a long semester.

In better news, I stopped throwing up and so dragged my dissertation out of its box. It's a lot better than I remember, and I'm looking forward to revisiting the first chapter to pump some footnotes in. Then it will be ready to begin making the rounds to my committee members, and I can have my defense before I have this baby. So that's the good news for today.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Plagiarizers deserve nasty deaths

So yesterday I caught a plagiarizer, though there was just the slenderest bit of deniability, if the person was willing to admit to being stupid and inattentive and unaware of things that I am tolerably certain that I knew in third grade when I realized that I couldn't copy information on the Pilgrims directly out of the encyclopedia for my Thanksgiving report.

I told her on her paper to see me to discuss her grade. I also told her that the point of the assignment was not exercising her skills in cutting and pasting, but to take in information, assimilate it, and reproduce it in her own words. After talking to the department chair and the writing program director, I agreed to let her rewrite the paper on the assumption that she was incapable of taking things in the first time I said them.

This morning, without having consulted with me, she sent me a revised version of her paper. She had lightly altered the bits that I had pointed out as copied, and made infinitesimal changes to the bit that I hadn't bothered to find online, but had suggested was copied. These changes involved excising words or phrases, often at the expense of sense.

So having been told to rewrite it in her own words, she did the equivalent of changing the odd adjective, and sometimes leaving out a phrase that she didn't understand.

I'm going to rip great handfuls of my hair out. I will let her rewrite it if I have to, but I really want to destroy her grade for this. I wish I could convey to students the rage that boils through me when I find that they're cheating. It's an insult to my intelligence. It's a waste of my time. It makes me so angry I want to tear giant chunks out of them and boil them for supper.