Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dear Students...

Here's an email I sent out today:
Dear Students,
 If you are receiving this, it is because you promised me that a final paper in one of my fall classes would be coming in late, right before the grade-due deadline, but I haven’t received it yet.
 Because I need to get my grades in today, and all the rest are done, I’ve put in the IN for you, but I need to receive that final paper promptly in order to finalize your grade.
 Please recall that on the syllabus it states that to pass the class, you must turn in all three papers.  As I explained in class, even if you have an A on papers 1 and 2, you must turn in something for paper 3 to get a passing grade in the course.  As you also know, the IN grade will automatically convert to an F next quarter, if I do not file a change of grade for you.
 Per our discussions, I know that each of your papers will be arriving soon, in doc, docx, or pdf format, or as the body of an email message.  If you upload it to Dropbox, tell me.  I won’t keep checking—the burden is on you.  The minute I receive your paper, I will notify you that it has been received.  Until you receive that message, assume that the paper HAS NOT REACHED ME.
 I repeat:  unless you hear from me, I have not received your paper, and you are on track for the automatic F.   Please do not find yourself in this situation, when you deserve a passing grade!
 I look forward to receiving your final paper soon, to sending you that happy message (“Got it!”), and to filing the grade you’ve actually earned.   You’ve put time and money into your class, and you deserve to see that reflected in your transcript.  J All the best,
So far, it's shaken loose one of those missing papers--or, rather, it shook loose something that looked like a new paper, but on closer inspection turned out to be the student's 2nd paper with the title and author of the poem changed in the first and final paragraphs.  Irony?  Desperation?  Misunderstanding of class policies?  (You fail if you don't turn in all three papers, but you don't then automatically pass just by handing in "something," especially when the paper you're tweaking got a D the first time.)

Ah, teaching.  


Laura Vivanco said...

That's a little bit funny, in a sad sort of way. The student certainly won't be able to say that you don't pay attention when evaluating work.

I'm curious, though: what kind of paper would be improved by someone making that type of change? Does it still make sense?

Maybe the students need a reminder that self-plagiarism is still plagiarism?

E. M. Selinger said...

I did find it briefly entertaining--Ezra Pound suddenly the author of a John Clare poem--but then, as a parent, I started to cringe at the wasted money that she or her family paid for this class. Imagine their reaction if I brought her to the college disciplinary board for self-plagiarism, too!

Perhaps it was meant to be a brilliant, postmodernist masterpiece, like Bridget Jones's introductory speech at the launch of "Kafka's Motorbike"?