Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Open Letter To My Students

Dear students,

I have a few notes I'd like to emphasize after reading your essays (well, most of your essays. After a while, I have to take a break and write a blog post. They're that dire.)

1) When the assignment asks you to write a causal analysis, it is meant to be a paper (wait for it) analyzing causes. Many of you wrote something you entitled a casual analysis, and your papers lived up to the name.

2) When the assignment guidelines remind you that it is important to have a thesis, it would be good if you managed to include such an entity in your paper.

3) Oooh - footnote to soon-to-be ex-students: I don't care that you've made an appointment with your advisor at three today and you need my signature on your drop form before then. I could care less. I'm not going to drag myself down to school while I'm trying to grade the other 39 papers just to be convenient to you.

4) When you're asked to do a rhetorical analysis, there's no need - no need at all - to take ridiculously strong positions. The Mission Statement of the University is unlikely to be a gross manipulation of our emotions. They aren't lying to innocent high school students to lure them it. It's way more likely to be a statement of what the University perceives as its mission.

5) Citing what I say in class is weird. I mean, overcitation is better than undercitation, but you can have too much of a good thing.

a) Spelling my name wrong when you cite me is unlikely to impress.

6) When you're asked to look at an article, and then consider some possible causes for the problems the article identifies, that is not a coded way of saying "summarize the article."

7) When the assignment says that the paper needs a title, that means that the paper needs a title.

8) When the assignment stipulates 12-point Times New Roman, that means that I want the paper in 12-point Times New Roman.