Monday morning pleasantry: one of my students gave me chocolates today! So I’ll skip the post I had brewing about how it turns out that all of my most petulant, immature, demanding, manipulative, and clueless students happen to be psych majors. Not that there’s much more to say about that, anyway.
Classes end this week. As a last-ditch attempt to get the pre-exam class average in my precalc class above a C-, I gave my students one final assignment: submit test corrections for a chance to earn back some of their lost marks. The corrected tests came pouring in this morning, most of them legible but hardly artfully done. A substantial number of my pupils, though – all young, all female, all failing or coming close – submitted their test corrections in duotangs, headed by title pages, and with one small question per page (and hence a whitespace-to-content ratio of ten or so). Two of them had letters following the title pages, informing me that they really wanted to pass my class; presumably this distinguishes them from the remainder of my students, who really don’t care one way or the other. College math students reading this, take note: I don’t give style marks, and in all likelihood, neither does your instructor. Same goes for pity marks. Other than content, my main consideration is, can I carry this stuff home to grade/fit it in my cramped office? Thank goodness I only have a small number of duotangs, or else the answer would be no.
But I can’t really blame these students for trying. Particularly since, if their high school education was anything like mine, they were taught that presentation is at least as important as content. I still remember the marking schemes for my English essays: “Thesis stated clearly and argued with support from sources: 10 marks. Title page, with name of essay, name of student, and student number listed in that order: 10 marks.”