Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Put a fork in me ...

Please note - not on left.
Real student submission to a graduate level discussion forum on wombat development.

Great post! I've encountered a few wombat in my work as a circus clown. I think the brown wombat has more behavioral issues than the grey. What do you think?*

* OK, no, this is not 100% verbatim but I had to take some liberty in protecting the flakdentity. You can paraphrase 20 words only so much.

(NB: The university-wide rubric dictates that full answers and responses earn equal credit and is clear in requiring current, relevant peer-reviewed articles as the foundation of all work.)

In private comments, I informed Brief Bart that besides his utterly ignoring the university writing standards and the submission being shorter than most traffic signs, any work submitted without so much as one cited source would have difficulty passing muster in an undergraduate never mind graduate level class.

But BB couldn't take the feedback, oh no.
Today on the public "Got a Question?" board:

I read your comments on my recent discussion post. I was relating some personal experience and asking a question. I don't understand your comment about this not being graduate level work. Could you provide some examples of the sort of information you want included?

Oh, forgot to mention ... we're in the middle of the quarter and this is an advanced level, cross-curricular course.

I think I'm done. Burned out to a crisp. Toast.

The NY Times recently reported about an increase in European business people choosing a particularly final solution to escape the seemingly insurmountable economic hole in which they now find themselves.
I'm feeling their despair.

I thought I found a modicum of peace with Stella's no feedback policy.
But they still want more. Complain when they get it. Whine when they don't.
It's not even they want more ... they won't do the barest of minimums.

And, yes, there are a few out there who are working their tails off and I yearn to be able to spend more time with them. But my time and energy get sucked up by the Barts because no matter how many ways I've tried to help them remediate their deficiencies, the need gets greater and deeper, while the "requests" get whinier, more demanding, and often downright ridiculous.

Also in Bart's class, this time on a short paper assignment, I gave seriously reduced points to about half the class because they -- again midway through the term ... and their Master's degrees -- they couldn't be bothered to follow the directions to include a simple title page. (I've given up actually making sure the title page is correctly formatted; now I'm happy to just see one!)

Are my only options so stark as to be between capitulating so I can continue to feed/clothe/house my family or holding to some shred of academic standard (which I was educated to expect as common knowledge) and being sacked for lack of customer service?
PS - The student who lied about calling me during my EMail snafu has now ignored three requests to identify her "concerns" before our phone conference, now rescheduled because the student missed the EMail offering the first set of suggested times. ::sigh::


  1. Cheezus, A & S. Do not let these people out of graduate school. God knows what idiocy they will sic (sick?) upon their students.

    1. Worse than that F&T, this is a clinical wombat care program ... these people want to go into a HELPING profession!

  2. I'm not in any way excusing Bart, but I wonder whether the perceived informality of a discussion board is to some extent in conflict with the rubric's requirement that all work be supported by cited references. I might expect a discussion post to be supported by reference to an assigned reading (or, in the case of an especially diligent student, an un-assigned one), but I wouldn't necessarily expect it (or, even more, a comment on someone else's post) to make reference to a source the student obtained his/her self. That sounds more like a formal paper.

    Of course, I'm concerned about the possible racism in Bart's grey vs. brown distinction, and also find myself wondering "behavioral issues from whose point of view? Those who would like most wombats to work diligently to increase the wealth of a few privileged wombats? Those who simply want wombats off the roads so they can get on with driving? Those who want to pay the minimum to keep other wombats healthy enough to serve their purposes?"

    However, I'm assuming, from your description of the timing of this exchange and the directions provided for other assignments, that Bart has, in fact, had the opportunity to view detailed directions and, most likely, successful posts by the diligent few in the class. And, if an online discussion is taking the place of a graduate seminar, I can understand the requirement for careful support and citation even in a usually-informal venue. In short, it sounds like Bart, like many students I have encountered, is doing what he thinks you should want him to do (and perhaps what he has done in the past), rather than what you asked him to do, and then expressing surprise that what got him through kindergarten/high school/freshman year won't work for grad school. This is an all-too-common phenomenon. Some of them, I fear, have taken the book "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten" a bit too much to heart.

  3. Damnit. Preteding to be a wombat was my way of dealing with the fact that I have no retirement and social security will be gone when I'm old. If this is the future of wombat care, I might as well admit it: I'm a human. Good thing I finally got a real job.

    1. You got a real job, Wombat? Congratulations! And do tell us about it, please, here or (better) in a separate post. Tales of escape (or even partial escape) from the misery are always welcome.

  4. I am in a helping profession also, and see this kind of crap every day. They're going to kill someone one day, and thinkmi'm an asshole for pointing it out.


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