Saturday, January 21, 2012

The scale of student badness

In my second year of teaching I was tired, cranky, and in the middle of reading the worst student essay I had seen at the time. Leaving that school soon (due to graduation) I had little to lose. In a plagiarized paragraph about space exploration in an essay NOT about space exploration I wrote "This drove me to chocolate."

In my head, I formulated a plan--if student writing drove me to pull out the Hershey's they would be told. Surprisingly enough, this has never shown up on my teaching evaluations or even on RMP. Today, I simply write "Chocolate" next to passages that drive me to indulgence.

However, over time I've ran into worse problems. These aren't shared with the students (as much as I'd like to), but if I did write on their papers some passages would be labeled with "Beer."

And today?

Today I added a new one. Dear student who cheated on a resume and was caught by failing to change the name across the top in 20 point font: For you, I reserve the label "Absinthe."


  1. Only if absinthe is still illegal. Holy cow.

  2. Oh, I've had one where they forgot to remove the advertisements from the text ;) Actually, that makes my life easier. The proof of plagiarism is relatively easy to conduct. But whatever gives you an excuse for chocolate. Or beer. Or absinthe.

  3. Let's hope you don't reach the point where the next label is arsenic!

  4. I save especially bad student papers (e.g. ones that claim that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft and give no evidence, and are illiterate as well) in a special file, the "hall of shame": that's right, the hos.


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