Friday, March 17, 2006

The Agony of Research Papers...

Thank goodness for Spring Break! ...although I'll be spending much of mine grading research paper rough drafts. Grr...

Today was the deadline for my 93 seniors to turn in their rough drafts for their research papers. This rough draft counts as a major test grade as it is an integral part of the writing process and shows a month's worth of work. RIGHT! Guess how many of them actually turned in something? 56. So that means that 37 of them took a big fat zero for a test grade. Of the 56 papers that were turned in, only about half of them were complete. In fact, they were about the worst group of papers I have ever seen. Here are a couple of the worst, but funniest, ones:

(Don't know if this should make me laugh or cry or scream... So far it's made me laugh and explode into coughing fits.)

Example #1: As I'm perusing a girl's paper who I knew had not done squat for her research, I found a hilarious pattern of nonsense. For each time she used the pronoun "I" (which is extremely faux pas in formal writing), the computer inserted, "You are a pathetic loser" in her paper. I highlighted all of the times it was mentioned (12), and began showing my friends. We looked it up on Google for one of those spoof sites where you think you are cleverly stealing someone's essay, but there are all kinds of subliminal messages throughout the paper. No finds. Then we start hypothesizing, "Is she calling ME a pathetic loser?" or "Does she know that SHE is pathetic loser for not working harder on her paper?" (Picture me and my friends turning red in the face, doubled over, me coughing because we are laughing so hysterically.) Finally, the librarian shed some light that a computer has been malfunctioning, and it has been programmed to automatically insert this phrase. Honestly, I was kind of disappointed because I was looking forward to writing this girl an office referral. I can't wait to see the look on her face when I ask for an explanation. Proofread, what?

Example #2: OK, plagiarism at its worst: A student who skipped school today (Today is Senior Skip Day.) drops her paper off this afternoon because she has been "working on her paper all day." Right. However, I notice an interesting shading throughout her paper. Direct copy and paste from a website. She didn't even take the time to reformat it into something that looked like a paper. It was arial font, single spaced, no indentions, citations, works cited. I plugged it into Google and found the direct website. She'll receive a Zero and an interesting note from me.

These seniors are killing me. They will not do work to save their lives. I remember feeling the Senior Slide. In fact, after the research paper, I had planned on backing off somewhat. Now, it looks like I am going to have to keep giving them work and tests so they can bring their grades up to graduate. I tell you what!

I hope this brought you some laughs... I hope I keep laughing... P.S. And if you are one of my students who happens by this blog, DO YOUR RESEARCH PAPER!


Supabloggasuprememama said...

wow. sounds like you have your hands full!!! At least you didn't hit patrick's car today...;)

lindsay meek said...

Oh my word. I don't know how you deal with it day to day. It sounds like my 3rd graders are more motivated than your seniors. That was one of the funniest things about the pathetic loser comment. I think you really need Spring Break and you need to RELAX! I can't wait to see you!! Love you...

Violet said...

I stumbled across your blog while surfing, and had to giggle. I used to type research papers for college and university students, and I soon learned to spot the slackers (even if the topic was one with which I had no familiarity whatsoever).

I really did try to help them realize how they were cheating themselves if they tried to plagiarize (expulsion, if caught) or shrug off other sloppy work. Honestly, it's puzzling how some of them managed to make it out of elementary school, let alone get anywhere near a post-secondary education.

Anyway, good luck. ;-)

Jen said...

Dear Kristy,
You are a pathetic loser.

Mrs. C

PS I am still laughing over that one.