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?

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December 12, 2009

Hell Semester Gets Nasty

Posted in Semester endcap, student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , , , at 7:26 pm by profart

So I get this email from my department chair. Apparently, some folks have gone whining to her about how unfair and unprofessional I am. Hmmmm. Let me see. I bet I can tell you who they are!

The only legitimate incident would be when I slam a book on a sleeping student’s desk. I had two of those this semester, and one last semester. I can see why folks might label that “unprofessional”, since it does disrupt the other students. However, sleeping in class is a problem students need to resolve to be successful. And I only slam for multiple offenders.

I have the student who was reading a book as I completed taking roll. I asked them to please put the book away. They got shirty with me because they “just had this last bit to go to finish the chapter!” How dare I ask them not to read that last little bit and instead pay attention to the class!

There is Have I Done Enough Work Yet? student, who keeps asking when things will be graded, when will things be available, and is this draft good enough? Give me my week to get writing assessments graded, please. If you turn in a class full of 5-page papers on Monday, it is unlikely that I will have them by Wednesday- and even next Monday might be sketchy, as I am not skimming, and at this level, these papers often need extensive commentary.

Then, of course, we have Lucky. I bet Lucky has bad-mouthed me all over campus. I know they had done so all over the counseling office, and to every ear they could bend around the satellite center.

And let’s hear it for my Careless Student, who sat in the back of the class and chatted with their neighbors, and when I asked them to participate, told me they didn’t want to learn this stuff now, they might forget it before the test. Um… huh? Or the Careless Students who liked to cluster about someone’s laptop and chitchat instead of taking notes, and then look at me blankly when I ask them a question or give them an assignment to do.

Or Arguer, who just couldn’t understand that a “works cited” page is not actually citing works. You can’t have a “works cited” without any citations in the paper! For some reason, arguing with me about this was considered an appropriate thing to do, rather than to just go put the citations into the paper.

You know, I think I’m a little tired. I think next semester, I’ll have some changes. For one, I’ll have some online tutorials about how to write and cite a paper. I will have a tutorial about classroom expectations, maybe some of the tips I have provided on this blog. And then I will make a major policy change: no second chances. Because seriously, that is where I end up with the most trouble. “This paper needs citations, here, please do them.” “WHAT? Isn’t a bibliography enough for you?!?” “?”

No, no more of this. No citations, you flunk. Period. And I am going to make that policy clear in the syllabus: papers without proper citations will be an automatic zero. See tutorial for information about how to cite a paper. What you give me is your final version, period. Not done correctly? You should have paid attention to the instructions the first time.

Rough drafts before the due date still accepted.

December 3, 2009

Plagiarists beware: Flunky flunky!

Posted in student stories, teaching revelations tagged , , , , , , , at 1:29 pm by profart

I hate it when students flunk. It’s bad on my nerves. I always feel like there is something more I should have done, something more I should have said. I agonize over placing the fat, honkin’ F on that record, especially with students who have at least warmed their seat all semester. But one must get what one earns, even if I lose a little sleep over it.

With one exception. Plagiarists. Don’t feel like doing footnotes? I’m going to flunk you, and not even bat an eye. Want to just copy material in from books, or cut and paste from websites? Flunky flunky! I just don’t tolerate theft of other people’s ideas and hard work, just because you are too frickin’ lazy to do your own.

With the citations thing, I give my kids a gentle second chance. Either I flip through the papers as they hand them in, and hand it back if there are no citations (or at least try to); or if they are emailed, I will send an email noting that I clearly have the wrong draft, and would they kindly email me the correct one, the one with citations? Because if that is not enough of a hint to correct the issue, they deserve to flunk for outright stupidity. We have enough thick-headed academics in the world, and I am sure if a couple professors had flunked their butts when they were being thick, instead of just passing them off to the next poor fool, we’d have a lot less of them.

There is nothing I consider more EPIC FAIL than failing to cite sources in a writing assignment, especially in upper-level courses, where it should be practically second nature. And I have one policy for EPIC FAIL: an F on your transcript.

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.

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 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.

-Confused.

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.

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.

April 11, 2009

Clues to the Clueless #17

Posted in clues to the clueless tagged , , , , at 5:17 am by profart

Hint: If you come to your professor with a sad medical story to excuse your absence since the midterm (that being now four weeks ago), and expect sympathy and accommodation, it is a good idea to miss no more classes. Seriously. Especially not the very next one. I still take attendance, sweetie. Did you think I wouldn’t notice?

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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