A few months ago, I had a discussion with my department chair where I shared my frustration at students simply ignoring feedback, particularly over a simple instruction from the university-wide rubric.
"Did you clearly state the expectation, give a warning or two, explain there would be consequences?" I was asked.
"Did you then follow through with those consequences?"
"Uh ... no," I replied sheepishly.
"Why not?" was the surprising response.
Feeling unexpectedly empowered, I forged ahead when the next quarter began, taking a hard line about following these basic instructions.
But, I've just spent several hours over the past few days, enduring a whinefest of epic proportion from the students who didn't follow the those instructions and were penalized for it. The label "unfair" was as common as bookbags on the quad. Apparently, expecting entry level adherence to expectations makes me "cruel," "mean," and "arrogant." Oh, and yes, it seems Every Y'Otherinstructor agrees with that assessment because he/she/they has never required these directions to be followed.
Bad as that was, I now await a second wave of turmoil. Once we moved past how the assignments were prepared, that then required evaluation of what was in said assignments.
As the assignment was distributed, I reminded everyone of the content expectations from the university-wide rubric. Peer-reviewed sources beyond the text, proper written English, APA formatting ... yanno, the collegiate bare minimum?
What I got were summations of the assigned reading in the text or of encyclopedia entries.
But what really made the cheese fall off my cracker ...
In response to another student: "I don't believe the [peer-reviewed and published] evidence. I know it doesn't work."
I am unfortunately aware that there is not a lot of encouragement in my feedback. I end up spending so much time remediating the basics of syntax, structure, spelling, sourcing, and synthesis, it is difficult to find anything to compliment, never mind encourage. I have spent countless hours contemplating how to avoid backlash by hovering grades between the dividing line between "exemplary" and "good." In this instance however, I simply cannot play that game and grades came from the "average" and "below average" rubric categories.
I so want to send back with the comment: "This sucks. It is not college level work; it's barely high school quality. Don't bother me again unless/until you can at least meet the minimum requirements."
But, accurate though it may be, it would be damaging to the darlings' self of steam.
Except, at this point, I am staring into the darkness of a deep abyss with the sense of impending doom that I cannot prevent a plunge into it. Either I hold firm to actually expecting work to meet the standards and await the silent termination resulting from adjunct contracts not renewed due to angry customer service surveys or I just capitulate to become Every Y'Otherinstructor and return all work with an A- and "Good post!"
Both options leave my soul as dark as the abyss.