Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Mid-Term Essay: Conditional Grade

Two (important) points regarding the Mid-Term Essay that you received back in class this week.

  • If you have any specific aspect for discussion about the grade that your essay earned, relate the essay and the marking comments to the objective criteria in the "Essay Letter Grade Criteria" in the Pertinent & Impertinent list here on the blog. Should you then bring the essay to an Office Hour for discussion, frame your remarks and questions directly to these objective criteria. This provides an independent standard and a common framework for understanding the expectations and requirements for a scholarly essay at the University level.
  • The primary purpose of essay assignments is to afford students opportunity to improve the quality of their academic writing and analysis. To this effect, as I stated in lecture, I customarily write copy-edits on Mid-Term essays: with a personal purpose of rewarding students for their good contributions to class by showing the way to an effective Final Essay, and thus an agreeable final course grade. However, it has been my unvaried experience hitherto that in excess of seventy-five percent of students make precisely the same mistakes on the Final essay as were corrected--lavishly and in vivid red ink--on their Mid-Term essay; leading me to conclude that my corrections are not being read. (One explanans offered me is that students interpret essay corrections as comment on their ability rather than--as is the case--as judgement on the artifact that they have submitted.) This term, then, I have determined to restrain myself from writing copy-edits, and have instead written a detailed overview at the foot of the essay. The design is that the student will do two things:
  • Read and study the concluding analysis, and then apply the directions found
    there to pages of the essay.
  • Bring the essay in person to the Lecturer, for manual assistance.
  • To, shall we say, 'encourage' the second event, I have recorded the grade on the Mid-Term essay as "Conditional": the grade will be certified only when the essay is brought in for discussion. In order to help the quality--and thereby the grade-- of your Final Essay, the earlier this is done the better. Scheduled Appointments are available for the remainder of the term

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