Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The lack of quality is astounding, really.

If I have to read one more paper where the student discusses findings from a study by quoting a paragraph from the original article, I might cry. TAing for a writing intensive course this semester is beginning to put me over the edge. Aside from the sheer workload of grading anywhere between 40 and 80 exams/assignments/papers (depending on how the other TA and I split the particular task), having to read some incredibly... lacking... papers is starting to get to me. I don't understand how students can graduate from high school without the ability to put a sentence together. What's more, I don't understand how they can be half-way through college and still not have learned adequate (let's not even hope for *good*!) writing skills.

In previous semesters, I have TAed for our department's capstone course that seniors have to take in order to graduate. You would think that by the time they get to their last semester in college, and are about to graduate with a psychology major, they would know *something* about how to write a literature review. Or a coherent sentence. The number of students who don't is absolutely shocking. So at that point we are faced with the dilemma of whether to give them As and Bs for D or F- quality writing because it's not fair to punish them when no one else taught them? Or do we start to fail them (as if we haven't been failing them all along...) for the first time in a class that will keep them from graduating with their major?

Really, the solution is a complete revamping of the educational system in our department But that also requires revamping the university's system, and the high school's system, and... it goes on and on. It's too depressing to even think that carefully about because suddenly the educational system in the country gets implicated too. Is this a bit of an over-dramatic statement/post? Probably. But you read some of the papers that I've been reading tonight and then we'll talk.

Bonus points if you manage to get through the paper with a sentence about "30 states that have of programs on X" that then goes on to list all 30 of those states. (Yes, someone really did that).

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