December 12, 2010

Clues for the Clueless, #30

Posted in clues to the clueless, student mistakes, student stories, teaching revelations, Uncategorized at 4:52 am by profart

Hint: If your professor says that you must appropriately notate your paper or they will flunk your butt, Professor isn’t joking. And if Professor provides you with an online tutorial on notation, you should look it over, before turning in your paper (in fact, read it over before even starting your paper.) And that mention that no re-writes will be allowed? Take that seriously.

Because if you don’t take it seriously, you’re likely to wind up with a flunked butt. And in my class, that is 25% of your grade. Ouch.


March 23, 2010

I can count

Posted in student mistakes, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , at 12:13 pm by profart

In my online classes, I require students to post twice on each discussion forum. This is a requirement born of experience, as students who come, post, and disappear fail to read the actual discussion or do any actual learning. Not meeting this minimum requirement results in a failing grade for the forum, because, well, they didn’t do the minimum required for a passing grade. Oh, and the posts have to be of passing quality.

Whenever I post the grades for the forums, I often get a light shower of “Why did I get an F? I posted twice!” And I carefully go back and check, and find the student had one post. Very often, it is not even an adequate-level post. I then write back to say minimum requirements were not met.

And occasionally, I still get a student or two who complain that they should have gotten credit for that one post (after first claiming there had been two). I have to then write a note stating that they did get credit; if they had not, the grade would have been a zero.

Perhaps I ought to test my students for basic arithmetic before allowing them into the class.

March 11, 2010

Holy. Moly.

Posted in student mistakes tagged , , , , , at 2:59 am by profart

This was a midterm essay turned in to me by a native English speaker with a high school education. Can you find the error-free sentence?

The Ancient Near East we have a Stele of Naram – Sin, Sippar, Iraq, 2220 – 2184 BCE. Naram – Sin had a stele made that showed him win the over the people of the Zagros Mountains. He is showed with the people below him. He is telling everyone that is has the power and that he is the power.

With the Stele of Hammurabi, Babylon, Modern Iraq, 1780 BCE, he had all the duties, punishments, and his people right engraved on his stele. He had different punishment for the different classes. Had got his power by tell the people the rights and the duties. He also deals with the politics with having more than one class. The some rules and duties were not the same has a poor man and a rich man.

The Ancient Aegean we have the Citadel at Mycenae, Greece, 1600 – 1200 BCE. We can see the power and the politics in the way the city so made. The king residence built on the heights point and with the high class around him. He had a wall built around the city to protect and show the power that He had.

The Parthenon was Athens power and showed it to the world around it. The Parthenon, Athens, 447 – 432 BCE. It was the place that had the wealth and the power around it. I think with its size helped it was the power.

It does not better what time it is but we can look around and see the art work that is telling us about power, politics, wealth, and the ones in the power. That artwork will never stop.

Edit: Did I forget to mention this is from the untimed, take-home, open-book exam they had two weeks to complete?

September 11, 2009

The color! The color!

Posted in student mistakes, student stories tagged , , , at 4:12 am by profart

Recently there has been a huge increase in vague, empty writing coming from my students. In trying to follow certain writing formulas, student not only end up saying nothing at all, or not what they thought they were saying, but there is often complete disjoint between sentence parts; clauses don’t jibe. Paragraphs shift gears halfway through. Random things- I can’t say fact, because they aren’t usually accurate- are tossed into the middle of discussions. It’s weird. Very Dada.

In discussing Flemish art during the Renaissance, I often ask my students to consider a few issues: why did oil paint become important? What is the difference between humanism and secularism? What factors resulted in the differences in style between northern and southern Europe? What is “International Gothic Style”, and why is it considered a Renaissance style, not a Gothic one?

Remember, these kids have a textbook to read about this stuff. I provide external links to look at and read about these issues as well. Some of the responses are precious. Allow me to conflate some of the responses while preserving the flavor of the posts:

Medieval art had more of a religious focus, whereas Renaissance focused on realism and everyday life. Because of the shift from religion to humanism the art work changed and though its style was similar the term “renaissance” became to represent the focus more so than the style. The International Gothic style referred to the people of the 14-15 century with the thin pale skin. It was the end of the Middle Ages and would start the change for a new world. For this it is called the “REBIRTH”.

The Tres Riches Heures portrays the International Gothic style very well. It conveys a sense of comfortability. It captures a feeling a cold winter weather with the bare trees, the snow covered landscape, the dull gray skies/high horizon, the smoke from the chimney, the size of the trees and buildings compared to the people. The things get smaller towards the back of the picture in contrast of to the front of the photo. Also the top half consists of a calender device with a sun, and a zodiac symbols.

[Tres Riches Heures] is also an example of secularism.This can be inferred in the flaunting of jewels, tapestry, stone and sculptures. It focuses on the Dukes and their collection of these lavish items. All noble men and women and no inferences of religious symbols can be found but a large amount of vanity of the Dukes and others are abound. Unlike the opposite that you would find in a piece such as Unicorn is Found at the Fountain. There we find small suggestions of Christ within the unicorn and other woodland creatures representing symbols of faith, valor, mercy. This tapestry depicts the Resurrection of Christ in a different form and is a great reference to humanism while still representing the rich colors of this period.

Find yourself saying “huh???” and “What does that have to do with anything?” a lot? Imagine a whole message board full of this stuff.

This may be a long semester.

August 31, 2009

Red Alert: Crap Ahead

Posted in student mistakes, student stories, teaching revelations, Uncategorized tagged , at 3:54 am by profart

Stock phrases are all the vogue these days in the world of Standardized Testing and Empty Writing. Generic fluff really annoys me. It annoyed me when I was a student trying to read articles and get to the point. It annoys me that this horrible habit of bad writing is being not only passed to a new generation, but intentionally ingrained into them. Its kind of like the 5-paragraph essay: it is a great little crutch to get kids started in thinking about the structure of writing, but too many of them get stuck there, never to actually understand the purpose of writing and communication.

Here’s some popular red flags for “here comes some empty crap I slapped together to get some credit”:

This is a question that can have many different answers.
(Really? I wonder if that might be why I asked it…)

The threshold problem with this is…
(What is a “threshold problem”? I get this a lot from non-native speakers and students from China and Taiwan. What is this supposed to mean?)

How we consider this question depends upon our point of view.
(Yes. Yes it does.)

In my opinion….
(Unfortunately, this is rarely followed by an actual, original, thoughtful opinion.)

This question isn’t easily answered…
(No kidding…)

I know my idea might be preconceived, but…
(It is. Trying thinking about the material instead of just spouting off at the mouth.)

Defining art would be like defining love…
(Give me a BREAK)

Don’t worry, there are lots more. I’ll add as I get slapped with them.

June 6, 2009

Bad at Math: Update

Posted in clues to the clueless, student mistakes, student stories tagged , , , at 2:59 am by profart

The email reply to my sending of the numerical grades and calculations of said grade, complete with noting that the actual number at the end of said crunch was actually a failing one, was a bit pathetic. It was to the effect of, “I thought my grades averaged higher than that.”

The only thing I can figure is not only did the student originally leave out the zeros for the assignments not completed, but continues to attempt to ignore those zeros, even when I clearly showed them in the tally and crunching.

Munch munch munch. I actually changed my grading formula a few years back, because I had loud complaints from students that reached admin ears that they couldn’t figure out their grades using my stated formula. This told me that many of my students could not handle basic arithmetic, which is a bit frightening. I stumbled on my original formula, which was midterm 30%, final 30%, quizzes 15%, writing assignment 15%, participation and attendance 10%. Then I changed it up a little later, Midterm 30%, final 30%, assignments 25%, participation and attendance 15%. Nope, that was too hard. Now I just smack it down: midterm, final, assignments, participation, 25% each.

And they still can’t do the math.

June 5, 2009

Bad at Math

Posted in clues to the clueless, Semester endcap, student mistakes, student stories tagged , , , , , , at 3:00 am by profart

From a student:

Hi Prof. Art. I was in your class and I just now looked at my grades and I am really not understanding my D in the class. I did all of the assignments and participation and my grades dont look bad. I averaged them and it looks like a C to me. The only thing I dont see on there is my Final exam part 1 grade but all else looks right. I am just a little confused, I thought that class was going well and I was doing well.


So I went back and crunched the numbers. Hey, I ain’t perfect, I’ve missed a number before. But the facts remained:

In fact, Confused had missed one weeks’ worth of participation, and one assignment. Part One of the final was never opened, nor attempted, according to BlackBoard.

And in fact, the numbers crunched to a 57.

Which is an F.

May 4, 2009

One down, three to go.

Posted in Semester endcap, student mistakes at 3:17 am by profart

One class signed, sealed, delivered. The other three have their exams this week.

The good quote of exams from this done class?

“If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is there to see it, does it make a sound?”

I guess blind people can’t hear trees falling.

April 18, 2009

It’s going to be a long semester when…

Posted in student mistakes, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , , , , , at 4:41 am by profart

… you put the Mona Lisa on screen, ask the class what it is, and get no response.
… students ask you what religion the Pope is. {Note the plural.}
… you write a plural on the board and the students argue with you that there should be an apostrophe in it.
… you ask students to identify an image and get answers like, “it’s that thing”, “sometime” and “where-ever.” Those are quotes, mind you.
… you spend a lecture discussing the impact of Napoleon on art subjects and styles, only to find the class has no idea who Napoleon was, much less identify him in a painting or sculpture.
… three weeks into class, several students realize the class meets on both Tuesday and Thursday… because you start asking where they are on the alternate day. Oh, and you write it out on the syllabus: This class meets in room XXX on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:00pm.

March 25, 2009

WTFAIL: What do you say?

Posted in student mistakes, student stories tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:33 am by profart

Dr. Profart,

    Good Afternoon, I am concerned about the online course I am taking. I thought I had been doing everything just right until the discussion came about the mid term. Everyone was recommending to look over the quizzes and I realized I had not taken any that I could remember. I also had been seeing the empty spaces in my grade book for the Assignments for each week–but I just thought that it was maybe just simply there, because I had not seen anything under my blackboard. Just today I met up with my friend ReallyGood Student, who is also taking this course and they showed me where to find the quizzes, I have this week’s assignment but have not had the others. I know this has taken me a while to realize this but this is my first time taking an online course. I knew nothing else to do other than to talk to you. I am very concerned please let me know what to do. Thank you.

Magic Reappearing Student

Dear Magic Reappearing Student, 

I am afraid I am a bit at a loss as to what to tell you. The midterm discussions took place 4 weeks ago, and you mentioned no concerns to me. Your syllabus is quite clear about the weekly assignments, what they are, and when they are due. The orientation presentation also discusses the weekly assignments. I also see that you have a “100” on your syllabus quiz; therefore you were aware of the assignments and when the first assignment was due. I also se that you completed the week 2 assignment, so you were aware where they were located and were able to complete them. Blackboard also says you opened the assignment for Week 5- therefore you knew where the assignment was, and were able to open it.    

Therefore, I can only conclude that you knew they were available and due, but did not complete them for reasons of your own. The only advice I can give you is to discuss how to withdraw from the class with the Registrar’s office.

Dr. Profart

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