Monday, December 9, 2013

A tsunami of inanity

Here is a conclusion from a genuine student paper:
These two types have many similarities depending on different understandings whether it is the poem or the book. The similarities given and recognized throughout the both of these writing are just showing the readers that there are similarities in ever reading and situation. By reading these two and understanding that the different backgrounds told by the different authors are not so different after all. These differences can be noticed right away, but most of the time in order to get the real meaning, the real understanding of the poem you would need to analyze the both of them and research, because whatthe reader may think the reading could mean, could mean something completely different

Questions for CM readers:
1. What is the class?
2. What is the assignment?
3. What is the grade?

24 comments:

  1. *blinkblink*

    Sophomore lit?
    Compare/contrast/analyze a poem and a novel?
    F. (No question mark on that one.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. given the info about poems and books, I'll guess...Physics!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Remove the references to poems, and replace them with references to historical documents, and this could easily have been written by one of my students.

    ReplyDelete
  4. 1. Information Theory
    2. Use a random text generator and the seeds "poem", "understanding", "similarities" and "mean" to generate a plausible simulation of content-free freshman writing.
    3. A.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is the hedgiest hedge answer I have ever hedged. Er, seen. Wow.

    Seriously, though, why do they even try? Why not just write, "I have no idea. I did not read this."

    ReplyDelete
  6. 1. I'm guessing an intro or core level lit class that is organized by (or at least addresses) genre (including prose and poetry). It could also (I say from sad experience) be the intro to the English/lit major course. I really hope it isn't the capstone.

    2. Compare and contrast a piece of prose (whether fiction or non-fiction it's hard to tell, and would be even if the student used the word novel, since most students these days seem to think novel=synonym for book) and a poem -- perhaps with prose and poetry addressing the same/a similar theme and/or situation -- with an eye toward explaining what each genre can best accomplish. There was probably some mention of employing close analysis and paying attention to the experience of the audience/the reader in the assignment, and research may well have been required. The assignment probably also contained the phrase "compare and contrast" (and/or "similarities and differences").

    3. Depends a lot on the rest of the paper (and, of course, the course/course level). I've seen some papers with relatively-decent -- albeit somewhat disconnected -- analysis in the body of the paper, and weak endings of this sort. I've also seen some (fewer, I think) that were this bad all the way through. Anywhere from B- to F, but probably somewhere in the C range.

    For whatever it's worth (a bit late at this point, I realize, and students will do what students will do however you write the instructions), I've had relatively good luck, usually at the conference/draft revision stage, with telling students who have written comparison/contrast essays (and/or used comparison and contrast, which is a legitimate analytical strategy, in early stages of writing a paper) to try to completely eliminate all variations of the words "similar" and "different" from their papers. This, of course, forces them to make more direct, concrete comparisons (and gets those very general words, and, often, forms of "to be," out of the core elements of the sentence). Sometimes they need to be given a few suggested templates "While author/genre x does p, author/genre y does q. . ." "X does s. However, y does t," and so on.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sounds like an intro to comp or lit class asking for a comparison between two texts. I would assign this an F, but is there any question about that?

    Hah--when I get these, I point out that comparing two things for no reason yields nonsense, and then I compare myself to a chair: we both have legs, a back, something to sit on, and yet, what is the point of doing that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like that analogy. I may be in the minority in thinking that comparison/contrast is a useful mode of analysis -- but always, of course, in serve of answering some larger question about phenomena of which the things being compared/contrasted are examples.

      Delete
    2. That would be "in service," not "in serve." aargh.

      Delete
    3. Oh, I assign comparison/contrast assignments, but I emphasize that they need to be done to SHOW SOMETHING MEANINGFUL, rather than to simply compare.

      Delete
  8. I was told it would be a multiple choice final. I bought a ScanTron(R) and a pencil.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Egad.

    But Dr. Zora, I don't understand how I could have gotten such a bad mark. I discussed both the poem and the book and I compared them to each other, just like it said in the assignment. I'm a good student and I worked Reeeally hard. I get A's in all my other courses.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think this student plagiarized from one of mine. :(

    ReplyDelete
  11. 1. Stonerology
    2. Get high and write a paper.
    3. A. It's so ... patterned, dude. Where are the FunYuns?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forgot the surfer "Cha", as in "Cha, dude, that was one gnarly wave."

      Delete
  12. Yes, it was an intro-level lit class, and no, it was not supposed to be a compare-and-contrast paper, so this is an F on many fronts. With a few substitutions, though, it could be the universal comparison essay, suitable for any course or any topic. It's like a gift!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So perhaps it was written for another class, and submitted for yours in a last-minute panic? Or were the texts particular to your class? Or maybe it is, indeed, some sort of mad-libs style universal comparison essay (a template of sorts?) that allows one to generate an absolutely awful but sort-of-relevant-to-any-class essay in 30 minutes or less?

      Whatever its origins, it's definitely a classic -- in the absolute worst sense of that term.

      Delete
  13. Reminds me of the classic Bransford and Johnson experiment, with the following:

    The procedure is actually quite simple. First you arrange things into different groups. Of course, one pile may be sufficient depending on how much there is to do. If you have to go somewhere else due to lack of facilities that is the next step, otherwise you are pretty well set. It is important not to overdo things. That is, it is better to do too few things at once than too many. In the short run this may not seem important bu complications can easily arise. A mistake can be expensive as well. At first the whole procedure will seem complicated.
    Soon, however, it will become just another facet of life. It is difficult to foresee any end to the
    necessity for this task in the immediate future, but then one never can tell, After the procedure is completed one arranges the materials into different groups again. Then they can be put into their appropriate places. Eventually they will be used once more and the whole cycle will then have to be repeated. However, that is part of life. (p. 722)

    Of course there IS an activatable schema behind the B&J text, while there doesn't seem to be any such schema in the student essay.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I know it has something to do with lit., but it reads like art criticism. And the words "self-propagating aura" have been left out, a must for any deep situation..

    ReplyDelete
  15. Compare and contrast "The Great Gatsby" and "There once was a man from Nantucket."

    ReplyDelete
  16. History and Systems of Hamster Fur Poetry

    ReplyDelete