Professors, You Are Doing It Wrong

Lecture, study and evaluations from tests and quizzes are the necessities in higher education settings. With hard work that the professors pour into their informational presentations, and the sweat and tears that their respective students compromise to retain said information, feng shui is balanced and all is good in the world of education.

But then the evil forces of overwhelmingly intense paper assignments barge in with their negative energy, and, suddenly, the integrity of the whole grading system is hindered.

To put it bluntly, papers are a great way for professors to be able to slack off at their job, whether intentional or not.

Students are assigned to do extensive outside research that some guy theorized years ago, think about it, write about it and be graded on it. Throughout this whole process, professors are only needed and expected for that very last grading part, the part that determines whether our vocabulary and sentence structure are worthy enough.

Think about it. Grading papers is controversially relative, no matter how you look at it. Portions of a paper may lose points for one educator who feels it needs more detail when his or her colleague may think it is thorough enough.

We learn how to properly write papers in middle school and gain the experience in high school. And true, it is expected of us in higher education to put that in practice with purpose — to prove we aren’t robots who simply remember facts but rather can comprehend and apply knowledge.

I understand essays. I even understand minor 2-3 page papers and comprehension reading evaluations. But anything over 20 percent of your cumulative grade for a paper is absurd.

Really it is simple laziness. Your job is not to tell us to look at words on a computer screen and word vomit multiple pages for you to contemplate worthiness.

That’s like purchasing the deluxe car wash but being expected to apply the soap yourself.

With all due respect college educators, I could do this task alone in the confines of my own home and have the same amount of intellectual growth.

In discussing our course paper in the aftermath of the harsh grading the general class received with our annotated bibliographies (accounting for a whopping 11% percent of our final grade), one of my professors recently enlightened my class that we “don’t write enough papers in this major.”

(Side note: Are annotated bibliographies really practiced in college? For a grade? I can’t even.)

Despite maintaining anonymity, I hate calling people out (especially those who will be determining about 40 percent of my cumulative grade with this god-forsaken paper), but you are very wrong.

We have essays and small term papers throughout almost every course to grade our application capabilities with a reasonable grade percentage associated.

This may seem like a rather ironic argument, a writer for the college newspaper opposing the high grading allocation of course papers, but it is something to be disputed.

Now if you please excuse me, I have to type up a rough draft for one of my classmates to review and edit, for it is worth over 6 percent of my cumulative grade.

Do you agree, or do you think I’m crazy? Professors, would you like a retaliatory argument? Send a letter to the editor at editor@ndsuspectrum.com to voice your opinion.

3 Replies to “Professors, You Are Doing It Wrong”

  1. This is quite possibly the most outrageous thing I’ve ever read. There is almost nothing that is said in here that has any value to it. Writing papers is not “word vomiting”, grading papers is not easy, and there’s a big difference between hearing someone say something (or reading something) and doing your own research and analysis. And I’m a student.

  2. Hi, Meghan,

    I don’t want to write a retaliatory letter–but I would like to respond to your comments, which show some confusion about the higher order thinking most college classes hope to offer our students to prepare them for the world after college. I realize that some teachers do, occasionally, assign writing without designing classroom support for their assignments, or scaffolding research so that students learn to situate their ideas within a broader conversation in their discipline. But if your teacher is asking you to write an annotated bibliography, draft, get feedback, and revise a paper, I can tell that you are one of the lucky students who has a teacher who cares about her and her future success in the world. Most animals can be taught to memorize bits of information and perform that rote memorization in a “test” of some sort. I think we would agree that while they are “trained,” this does not adequately prepare them to be professionals. It makes me sad that most education today is teaching to some similar sort of test, and that when students get to college, they are frustrated when they have a teacher who believes in their intellect and ability, and hopes to teach them not a fact or figure, but how to learn. How do devise an important question and undertake research to answer it. How to find information on their own, evaluate it, and act upon it. How to synthesize ideas and come up with new solutions to the challenges facing our world, and to not blindly accept standard answers. How to write a sustained and logical argument. How to be successful in their professions and their lives. Congratulations on having one of NDSU’s best, a teacher who cares more about you and your education than his or her own weekend! You have one paper to write. Your teacher may have 60 or more to read and respond to. That does not seem like a slacker thing to do. It takes me about 20 hours to provide detailed feedback and support on 20 papers of 10 pages each. Assigning papers and teaching writing and information literacy seem like things a caring and responsible professional is willing to do to assure your success. I hope someday soon you will be able to thank your teacher for that kind of dedication!

    Betsy Birmingham
    Professor of English

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