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Author Topic: Student Sentences, Spring 2011 edition  (Read 162812 times)
theblondeassassin
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« Reply #315 on: April 14, 2011, 4:55:38 AM »

I take off marks for "in my opinion" or "I believe" as an unsupported statement -- "argument needs to be supported by evidence" to get credit.
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #316 on: April 14, 2011, 7:28:47 AM »

O.K. I'm seriously curious. As someone who may eventually find myself dealing with carp like this, I seriously want to know what, if anything at all, you make as comments. I can deal with commenting on grammar and spelling, logic and organization, but this stuff: hyperbole, created  metaphors that don't work, overly-florid writing... Please spill. If I have to deal with it, it will, most likely, be as a tutor, but those that I tutor deserve my best insights--and I can't say, even if I'm correct, "Wow! That sentence sucks!" I simply don't know how to word a critique on something like this --I can identify it as poor phrasing, or over-reaching, but I'm just not sure how to go about critiquing it. Technically, it works. It's just bad, or badly worded.

I'd seriously be interested in hearing the comments you actually make (or might make, keeping the comedy going) about some of these sentences, if you'd be willing to share--similar to what happens in "favorite e-mails". I have to think that seeing those comments might be helpful to other newcomers to the profession, too.

I'd need another two coffees to make a stab at keeping the comedy going, MTG, but in cases like this I generally just write various combinations of "florid" "colloquial" "expression" and "see me".

Also "state this directly" or "be concise" or "rethink your metaphor." Often "Sentence needs an overhaul."

Sometimes humor works: "Too exciting for academic writing."
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llanfair
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« Reply #317 on: April 14, 2011, 11:42:33 AM »

"Awkward construction" and "keep it simple" work, too.  Sometimes a big "??" for variety.  It's no good writing long explanatory screeds - they'll never be read and serve only to cause trouble, should a student choose to make any.

I reserve "see me" for plagiarism or similar heinous transgressions.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2011, 11:44:22 AM by llanfair » Logged

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lilac53
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« Reply #318 on: April 14, 2011, 11:57:55 AM »

"Awkward construction" and "keep it simple" work, too.  Sometimes a big "??" for variety.  It's no good writing long explanatory screeds - they'll never be read and serve only to cause trouble, should a student choose to make any.

I reserve "see me" for plagiarism or similar heinous transgressions.

Ah, yes - I do like a good "??" Accompanied by underlining of clauses/sentences, sometimes circled for extra effect. It strikes me too that my "florid" is itself actually kind of...florid. It's hard to find the right word to capture melodramatic and overly-effusive writing. Verbose maybe?

It's true that "see me" should be reserved for special cases. I usually only write that if the expression is so poor as to cause them to fail or almost fail.
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canonicalkumquat
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« Reply #319 on: April 14, 2011, 2:08:04 PM »

I'm a frequent (ab)user of the "??" in the margins, but I also use comments like:

--Is this metaphor/phrase/image/grand-claim supported by your evidence?
--How does this metaphor/phrase/image/grand-claim help argue your thesis?
--What is this sentence/paragraph/clause doing?

It doesn't always work, of course, but I've seen it improve in some students' writing over the course of a semester. Once they realize that an essay (or a paragraph, or even a sentence) is supposed to be doing something--and not just sitting on a page and getting a grade from a now-very-ill-tempered TA--they sometimes improve. Sometimes.
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llanfair
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« Reply #320 on: April 14, 2011, 2:55:42 PM »

It's true that "see me" should be reserved for special cases. I usually only write that if the expression is so poor as to cause them to fail or almost fail.

My favourite way of telling them that their writing is incredibly, horribly, unarguably bad is to say, "Your writing is very weak, and it's holding you back from expressing your ideas clearly."  That way, it's their writing's fault, not theirs. 

It's surprising how much of a difference that wording makes, because of course it's their damn fault, it just doesn't read that way.
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dr_alcott
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« Reply #321 on: April 14, 2011, 4:50:16 PM »

It's true that "see me" should be reserved for special cases. I usually only write that if the expression is so poor as to cause them to fail or almost fail.

My favourite way of telling them that their writing is incredibly, horribly, unarguably bad is to say, "Your writing is very weak, and it's holding you back from expressing your ideas clearly."  That way, it's their writing's fault, not theirs. 

It's surprising how much of a difference that wording makes, because of course it's their damn fault, it just doesn't read that way.

I agree: this can work really well. The phrasing I often use is "These errors [or whatever] are getting in the way of your good ideas." (OK, sometimes I don't describe the ideas as "good." I try to be honest.)
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You must be your own snow, Dr_Alcott.  You must lift, and sparkle, and then melt away.

I love everyone here!
bioteacher
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« Reply #322 on: April 14, 2011, 5:48:33 PM »

I sometimes use "Read this out loud." or "How would you diagram this sentence?" Depending on how bad it is, I may even say, "I cannot identify the subject and/or verb." in order to convey that the word salad is not a sentence, is not a complete thought, and may not even be a fragment of a coherent thought.


I do this instead of bold 40 pt font saying "WTF" or using a paint program to embellish the document with fake bloodstains. There are papers that might be improved with a splash of color. Still, I resist.

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mystictechgal
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One step at a time


« Reply #323 on: April 15, 2011, 1:25:04 AM »

Thanks, all. When I read some of "my" teens' work, I can often get away with being quite open with my comments, primarily because of the relationship we've formed, but that same openness would be totally inappropriate in a tutorial with a relative stranger. It's nice to have a repertoire of professional WTF? prompts.
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You must realize that a university cannot educate you. You must do that for yourself, although a college or university is the place where it is likely that you can study most efficiently.
http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/chapman.htm

"Is all the same, only different" -- HL
llanfair
Still reading past her bedtime and Very
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Whither Canada?


« Reply #324 on: April 17, 2011, 10:38:07 AM »

A colleague's student's essay argues that the cold war was "fought by the Chinease" and "started out fairly large but if we really think about it it was not that big compared to what it caused, it began world war two... of course the Chinease were more powerful but were nothing compared to the European army."

My colleague mused that she couldn't pick this student out of a lineup.
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geoteo
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« Reply #325 on: April 17, 2011, 10:44:07 AM »

My colleague mused that she couldn't pick this student out of a lineup.

That's unfortunate, because the student certainly should serve time for that sentence.

One of my students has presented me with this gem: "Venice is a historic city in Italia, and they have a lot of history in there."
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adjunctatlas
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« Reply #326 on: April 17, 2011, 6:35:39 PM »

'Consenting adults are free to do as they wish in bed without legal pestilence.'

The law is a pest sometimes.

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mystictechgal
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One step at a time


« Reply #327 on: April 17, 2011, 11:06:04 PM »

"The first thing that was done was having meetings with the purchasing director with detailed information to back up what was said on their part."

From the same submission: "The most important being the student senate, office and department managers, and the Purchasing Office."

Just two of the sentences in the paper written by one of my project partners and given to us for inclusion in our report. Four paragraphs of nonsense and sentence fragments. He'd apologized in advance to the two of us actually writing the report for being a poor writer. That's an understatement. She and I decided tonight to strongly counsel him to make use of the writing center. We fervently hope he's a first-year.

Also in the paper was the wonderful sentence informing us that the "goal of the education goal was to educate people...". GAH! We both had headaches and needed a break by the time we'd reworked his first paragraph into something that was remotely usable.

Our 4th partner writes marginally better, but that's not saying a lot. At least the kid is willing to write without our having to send multiple reminders that range from polite, to pleading to, outright threatening. And, he found his own case study. I had to find the other guy's case study for him and spoon feed it to him.  Damnitall, he is NOT going to get by having done nothing but take the survey questions I wrote and putting them into "Survey Gizmo".

Have I mentioned that I really HATE group projects? I'm sure I have, but it's worth repeating.

\vent
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Quote
You must realize that a university cannot educate you. You must do that for yourself, although a college or university is the place where it is likely that you can study most efficiently.
http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/chapman.htm

"Is all the same, only different" -- HL
proftowanda
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« Reply #328 on: April 17, 2011, 11:18:08 PM »

I take off marks for "in my opinion" or "I believe" as an unsupported statement -- "argument needs to be supported by evidence" to get credit.

I have found somewhat of a solution on this:  I note in instructions for assignments that I cannot grade feelings (ugh, I despise "I felt" instead of "I THINK"), beliefs, etc. -- so any such statements do not get marked down but simply do not count for credit. 

This works for assignments that must be a minimum number of words, as in my intro-level class in which I try to break frosh of this too-common sort of construction lately.  Support statements with evidence from course readings, they are instructed, and only from course readings to meet the minimum word count. 

Then, if they wish to write more from their feelings, beliefs, and such blather in addition to the requirements of the assignment, fine -- but not for credit. 
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tee_bee
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« Reply #329 on: April 17, 2011, 11:24:11 PM »

I take off marks for "in my opinion" or "I believe" as an unsupported statement -- "argument needs to be supported by evidence" to get credit.

Good. I did the same this term. I hope my PhD students finally figure out why I keep docking them for this inanity. Sigh.
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