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?

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.

October 28, 2009

Clues for the Clueless #23:

Posted in clues to the clueless tagged , , , at 1:16 pm by profart

Hint: If you are already on a professor’s shit list, and you know it, it is a bad idea to ask for extensions or “rule bending” of any kind. That kind of crap just pisses your professor off and makes you BLOG FODDER.

Ever have a student you just want to throttle, because they are so self-centered and thick-headed that you wonder how they managed to get through the admissions process to get into your college?

When I was young, one of the great lessons I learned is of you piss somebody off, the best course of action is to not annoy them further. In the world of college, if you already have crossed a line with a professor, your best course of action is to toe the line of course policy. Come to all the classes. Turn in all the work. Turn it in on time. If the professor provides you with something like an extension, despite your previous run-in, turn that work in quickly, by the new deadline set, and for the love of All Things Holy, make sure you turn in high-quality, spectacular work, to show respect for your professional and beneficent professor. Because if you don’t, and you were already on the Metaphorical Smack List, you will get moved up to the Report Student to Advisor and Department Chair List. Oh, and you’ll likely flunk that crappily done assignment you turned in late.

I think in my next syllabus, I am going to include a Late Work Policy. If you forget to bring the essay I kindly allowed you to do at home instead of having to complete in class without any books or notes, you may turn it in by midnight for a Five-Point penalty. Each day that passes thereafter will be another Five Points. Be aware that your points may run to the negative. (So if you have an essay worth 25 points, and you turn in a C-level essay a week late, that would be 19 – 35, or a -16, to be added into your exam score.)

Seriously. The rise in this kind of shit is getting so annoying, it is making me cuss on my blog in frustration.

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.

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.

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

February 28, 2009

Are there any stupid questions?

Posted in student stories tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:35 am by profart

Or, Five posts your professor really does not want to read the week before the exam.

1. “Do we really have to learn all of this stuff?” (Or its less common polite version, “Can you tell us what we should focus on?”)

2. “When is the exam?”

3. “Wow, has anybody done all this reading?”

4. “Do we have to know things like names and dates?” (Remember, I’m teaching art history…)

5. Any question that could be easily and immediately answered by reading the syllabus… which my students take a quiz on the first week of the course, and retake said quiz until they get a 100%. It includes the date the exams are due.

Clues to the Clueless #15

Posted in clues to the clueless tagged , , , , , , at 3:22 am by profart

Hint: I can read the online class discussion boards. All of the posts. All of the the time. 

I’ll let y’all’s imaginations run wild with that one.

Next page