Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why do I do this to myself?

It's Saturday for crying out loud.

My latest set of online Comp II papers was due last night, and a few of these students actually turned something in. So I am grading papers today.

But with every new paper I read, I feel this much closer to jumping out the window. Why don't they read the handout? Why don't they read the comments I give on the previous drafts? Why don't they do something, anything, other then vomit a bunch of words onto a page, most of which have very little to do with the assignment they were given.

And one of them, good god almighty, actually plagiarized a paragraph from a website that defined a concept s/he was using in hir analysis of the assigned short story. Fine, that's bad enough. But then s/he copied the entire, ver-fucking-batim, "For Further Reading" list from that webpage (which of course was not in MLA format) and tacked it on to the end of hir otherwise-correct Works Cited page. The whole thing. Just tacked it on. Didn't change a single thing. What?!?!? The?!?!? Fuck?!?!?

Somebody shoot me.


  1. I know, I know. I hate that I'm supposed grade crap I know is plagiarized off the internet. That, and the end-of-the-semester grade assaults, are my top two peeves.

  2. I caught a plagiarist a couple of years ago because the section of text included "...(see page 297)...". The snowflake had copy-typed from the book exactly... (I assume that since it was from a book not the web they thought they were safer?).

    And then there was the case of the master's student who copied three whole pages of a book chapter. Which had just come out the week before... and was written by the prof doing the grading.

    I just keep telling myself that I'm doing it for those who DO try and learn. There's usually one or two, at least...

  3. I don't necessarily schedule the reading of a bunch of papers for the day after they come in (especially if that's a Saturday); instead, due dates fall on one of the regularly-scheduled class days (actual or virtual), and grading gets fit into subsequent scheduled "grading" time blocks as soon thereafter as possible (I try to work out all my course schedules so due dates are spread out enough to allow me to grade papers soon after they come in: certainly within a week to 10 days). But I have to admit that I don't get particularly high student evaluation ratings for getting work back in a reasonable time, and online classes only make the pressure for a quick turnaround worse.

    Still, I think there's something wrong with whatever it is that makes us feel that if papers come in on Friday, we should be grading them on Saturday. Maybe it's because I grew up in a household with one parent who had a "there might be a war if I and my colleagues don't pay attention to this right now" sort of job, but I just can't see ungraded papers as a situation of enough urgency to demand my immediate attention if the day that follows their arrival is one that is often quite appropriately devoted to rest, recuperation, and/or taking care of the practical details of life.

    That said, I graded papers today (though I hadn't originally intended to; by this time in the semester, my planned schedule almost invariably degenerates into grading in any spare moment I can find, whether or not the laundry is done, the house is cleaned, or there are groceries in the house -- which, at the present moment in my house, there aren't; I'm out of milk, both the regular and the UHT kind). And I realize that waiting 'til Monday won't make them any better. My commiserations, especially since the heart of your misery results from problems you tried to prevent, to no avail -- you gave them instructions (and, presumably, warnings about plagiarism), and they didn't follow them.

  4. Grading on Saturday and Sunday is the only logical course of action. Long blocks of uninterrupted time = productivity. Aaaaand back to grading I go.

  5. I've caught -- and failed -- a number of papers with plagiarized web material over the past few years -- it never ceases to amaze me that students seem to think that I don't have access to the same internet that they do.

    What really bothers me, though, are the custom-written 'bought' essays. Because there's no hard proof of cheating in these cases, the professor for whom I teach and grade refuses to accuse the students, and they get a nice grade that they don't deserve.

  6. I was going to grade this weekend (and did about half on Friday), but... fortunately... real world (fun) is getting in the way.

    I still have Monday!

  7. Here's the topper, my friends. A student once submitted an essay on the subject of academic integrity. (You already just know this isn't going to turn out well, right?) He started the essay with a clear, detailed definition of plagiarism. You guessed it -- he plagiarized the definition of plagiarism. And then had the pea-brained nerve to argue and claim he hadn't plagiarized. The rest of the paper was no better, of course.

  8. I actually had a student who had cribbed passages from MY dissertation!

  9. > I actually had a student who had cribbed passages from MY dissertation!

    That's a weird feeling, isn't it? Not nearly as bad as having one's car stolen, but disquietingly similar. "Hey, what's going on here..."


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