November 29, 2009

Clues for the Clueless #25

Posted in clues to the clueless tagged , , , , , , , , , at 6:12 pm by profart

Ah, we have come to a momentous occasion: my twenty-fifth clue for those who have none. Seriously, kids need to have academic advisors and be required to see them regularly; and those advisors should start listening to the “problems” and offering clues. But then, you can lead the horse to water, but even holding its face under that water can’t force it to imbibe.

Hint: Lack of planing on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part, nor qualify you for an extension.

My assignments not only have a due date, they have a due time. It used to be noon. When I first started teaching, this was just fine. Noon on the day of the assignment due date was pretty standard for my college, allowing professors some flexibility in taking assignments and office hour time to assess those assignments. I could happily spend the rest of the afternoon grading, and plan that time effectively. No problem.

Then it started being a problem. Noon deadlines started meaning you were still receiving assignments at one, then two, then three pm. Then the emails began really rolling. In a hyper-connected world, why can’t a student email you their assignment at four? After all, they have so many other classes, and jobs, and kids, and stuff, and its just one paper, right? I was handing out so many zeros that the department chair, then the dean got on my ass. I had to do something.

So I shifted the due time to 5. Then 6. Then midnight.

But it never ends. If I can wait until midnight, why not 1 am?

Tricking them by saying the due time is noon, but accepting papers through midnight, only works once. Not just once per class; in this day of internet and Twitter, I mean once. And even then, you have the stragglers who just can’t seem to understand the definition of “deadline.” As in, if you cross the line, you are dead.

Corollary: if you are going to be traveling the day or two before something is due, black those days out. You will not have time to complete the assignment on those days. If time appears, bonus for you, but the more common experience is one of flight, train, and bus delays, security delays, taxi delays, traffic delays. Also, you have no assurance of internet connection when you arrive at your destination. Seriously. Finish up before you leave.

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November 21, 2009

Clues for the Clueless #24

Posted in clues to the clueless tagged , at 8:23 pm by profart

Hint: There is a difference between “asking for help” and “harassing the shit out of your professor.”

When you have a writing assignment, turning in a rough draft is a good idea. Make sure you have completely finished the project, completely notated the project, etc. Your professor will give you comments and hand it back to you. You then go an consider these recommendations, and put your best foot forward to complete the assignment. If you happen to have another draft completed in time to turn a second draft in by the draft deadline, it is usually OK to resubmit, but some professors only look at one rough draft- after all, the point is not to spoon-feed you through the assignment, but to provide you with helpful feedback before you turn in your final draft. More useful to you would probably be a trip to the writing center.

If you start turning in 3 and 4 drafts, you are harassing your professor. This isn’t high school, it’s college. I am not here to spoon feed, I am here to guide. Sending me repeated emails and drafts to the effect of “am I done yet? Is this an A yet?” is simply annoying. Do your work. Make sure your writing is smooth, your thesis clear, logical, and cohesive, and your notations appropriate. If you believe you fit this criteria, you are done. Then you hand that in as a draft, and I provide guidance, and you work on it until, following that guidance, you meet that criteria. If you do not meet that criteria, you have work to do. You do not need to submit it to me with the message, “have I done enough work yet?”

Because my answer will be “no.”

November 12, 2009

Notes and noteworthy

Posted in Helpful Hints, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , at 10:46 pm by profart

When I was in college, which really wasn’t that long ago, and you missed a class, you provided your excuse to the professor- and then went and got notes from your classmates. Going and asking the professor for their notes was not done. At the time, I didn’t know why- it was just not done.

Now I have the answer.

You see, a professor’s lecture is under copyright. It is propriety to them. Taking the notes of a professor for a missed lecture is like going over to Bill Gates and asking him to provide you the full code of the current Windows operating system, and all the business memos included with it. Or asking for the full and correct formula for Coke.

It is also basically asking a professor to take notes during their own lecture.

Some professors actually write out the whole lecture, and it works like an article they have written or any other work they have done. Other professors write notes, and are talking extemp. Included in either of those notes are notes on the notes, information that may or may not be actually offered in a lecture, notes about questions that may or may not be asked. Things may be crossed out, updated, notated, and even in code. They are not in a state intended to hand out to the public.

So here’s a hint to folks prepping to miss a class: get a buddy. Ask that buddy for a copy of their notes.

Or come to class.