Wednesday, November 15, 2006

For the love of writing

I nearly passed out yesterday at work. Once I provide the background then you'll understand.

One of my students has been given the task to peer review the big paper for his class. He was upset to have the bad luck of getting the class brown-noser's paper. The self proclaimed class know-it-all has his paper to criticize making him feel worried about the result. He was very irritated, believing that his paper would be marked severely by this gal and hers would be perfect. I could tell that this was causing him more stress than was necessary. He really didn't want to look at this gal's paper. To put an end to all the bitching and moaning I figured that due to his prejudice that I would take a look at it, read a page or two, and reassure him that he is acting foolishly. You know, put him more at ease. That's what I'm all about.

So I read 5 pages of the 25 and that's where the faintness hit me. I nearly passed out in disbelief and disgust. This paper is written for a 400 level government class by a senior. It was the most horrible awful example of writing that I have seen in years. (Besides my own.) There were so many run on sentences I quit counting after the second page. There were 3 very obvious incomplete sentences, another reason to proof-read, and so many commas they would choke the Hoover Dam. The poor use of grammar would make an editor wretch. The lack of credible references irked me. Come on, the Encyclopaedia Briticannica online for the majority of your background information?!?!?!?!? There were a few journals and some government sites like WHO, but nothing in print. You couldn't find one blasted book about the topic?

And the best part was the inability of this student to utilize (understand?) stats. If you plan to focus a paper on statistical information, for the love of writing, please understand what your stats are saying. Not understanding them and then trying to make it appear as if you have statistical knowledge only makes you look like a bigger dope. I had to wonder what this person was trying to achieve.

I know! I know! A really crappy grade and evidence that you are incapable of demonstrating your intelligence through writing. It was poorly written and poorly researched. And I believe due to its absolute lack of flow this gal may have plagiarized a good portion of the paper. The ideas were jumping all over and had some slightly incompatible statements jammed in random places. And considering that she makes it very clear to all that she lived in this country for over a year affirms that she is an idiot. How do you live there for study abroad and be this clueless about the topic? For such a selective school I expect better.

I give it a C- to D+. How did this person pass the writing requirement classes?

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