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Everything posted by Cleopatra

  1. The issue seems to be that their grading philosophies are not only inconsistent between departments, but also between schools. I spoke with a student yesterday in my dd's class ....... she was getting 89% in English at U.B.C. but she's getting a C or C+ in this class. I don't have a problem if they set the bar at a certain point for everyone, but it seems to be all over the map. It's just strange ....... Yes, it was a very good conversation. The philosophy of grading is curious though, but at least she knows from now on. While this seems possible at university level, and particularly this university, it is not that way in high school here. In HS, students regularly get As for sub-standard work, depending on the teacher. That's partly why they are so shocked when they get to uni.
  2. Update: Okay, my dd went in to see the professor today to get her feedback. Here's what she said: My dd is way above the class average and her writing is absolutely excellent. If she doesn't become an English major, the professor is going to hunt her down. She said her paper was like a rough draft of something publishable. Her style is excellent, her ideas are very good and she communicates them well. If she can produce something like that in first year English, the professor can't wait to see what she's going to produce a couple of years down the road. She said she wanted to give her an A- or B+ but she didn't want her walking away thinking that she could just get away with writing at that level for those types of marks; she wanted to push her to do better. The only thing she said she really needed to work on, other than simply developing, was her punctuation (comma splices). Apparently a B- in first year English is an excellent grade, and my dd got a B on her paper. I must say, I'm a little bemused at the feedback. I thought the expectations for students would change each year, gradually becoming higher, but it's almost as if the expectations encompass all the four years and it's only later on that you can get high marks. However, I can appreciate the professor's philosophy and think that it will serve my dd well. She did say that she was hoping my dd would come and talk to her, so she could tell her what she told her today. So there is a little extra information with regard to university expectations and grades. It really seems so subjective, so I think my dd has learned how important it is to go to your professor to get some verbal feedback; what is being communicated by papers and classroom time does not necessarily communicate the opinions of the professor and talking to them is very beneficial. As for the mistaken comment, she said it wasn't a mistake. She did not want my dd to bring in the term anti-hero at all; Bilbo is a biblical hero. When I first read my dd's rough draft, I was thinking anti-hero, not realizing what the term meant, and as it is a hero-type, I don't think it at all unreasonable, that my dd brought it in for comparison; she was very clear with her presentation and argument. So on this point, I completely disagree with the professor, but at this point, that's really neither here nor there. Thanks to those of you who have given your input and help with this topic. My dd feels like this has been a good experience and is looking forward to her classes next year!
  3. Honestly, I think the professors that I've seen are doing a great job. In a school model that is working well, they wouldn't have to do anything extra. But sadly, our public school system is not great and there are huge numbers of students coming into university who can't write. There is the Writing 100 course that all students entering are supposed to take, but that just seems to give the students the basics because they come into it with little background. There is a writing centre for help, but the feedback from the students is that they are not very helpful, or in any case, their papers don't seem to be improving (or not very quickly) with the help they're getting there. There does seem to be a disconnect between the some students and some professors ...... from speaking to students they seem to feel there is quite a bit expected of them but little guidance ...... the professors on the other hand are pushing the students to challenge and improve their abilities, which is not unreasonable. However there doesn't seem to be a middle meeting ground. I'd have to think about it a little more (and probably ask a few more questions) to try to determine why. I'm sure that university is quite a shock to the public school kids who enter it. While our public school system is woeful, our university system is excellent (still --- crossing fingers) and the expectations are high compared to public school. I know that by talking to the writing centre helper (our boarder), students, and by taking first year classes as an adult, I've seen some of the stresses many students are under. It's not the job of each professor to try to fix the problem, but it would be helpful if they realize it and give some extra support and understanding to some of the first-yearers. Yes, certainly there are lazy students, but there are a number of students working very hard and feeling like they're failing simply because they haven't originally been given the tools to succeed and now feel out of their depth. My dd's professor is very academic and also her personality is very laconic. She is a very nice lady. She has amazing knowledge about her subject and can talk about it in class, but when you speak with her she doesn't say much. It's just her personality. I could see her doing very well in a third or fourth year class, but with the students who feel a bit lost, it's harder for them to connect and feel supported. Fortunately my dd is not in that position as her writing instruction has been very good, but I've edited some papers for this essay for other students, have heard others talking, and this is what I've gleaned. None of this is criticism, just observations. Thank you for this explanation; the last paragraph especially is very helpful. And I think you're right in that my dd should perhaps get more guidance as to grades. For her the main concern is that the professor read and understood the paper and to a lesser degree she is concerned about her mark not moving with her improvement, in that she just doesn't understand. But she should try to figure out the ins-and-outs of the marking structure, so I'll let her know. Yes, they have a writing centre but, as I mentioned above, the students at least don't find it that helpful. I edited a paper from my dd's class that had been through the writing centre and there were a number of issues that they didn't mention to the student. Our boarder who worked there was doing her master's degree but she wasn't "trained" per se. Otherwise, I don't know who they have looking over the papers so I'm unfamiliar with how it's generally set up. I do know that my dd received MUCH more detailed feedback from the teacher/editors, so I was happy that was part of the paper requirements. I'm not sure if I understand your question. Do you mean generally with students (which I somewhat answered above) or specifically in my dd's case?
  4. Got it. This is making more sense now. It's wonderful that you're close by because it's helpful to have the context. Oh wow, thank you for that information. I knew the grade percentages were different in the U.S., compared to Canada, but I thought that they were consistent within Canada. So how does the grade point average work then? Is it then structured in a way that it will work out the same compared to other universities or does it work out differently? I'm a little confused.
  5. Wow, that's really interesting. Even though my dd is homeschooled, she has many friends who are in public school, so I've seen what's expected and it's atrocious. My dd's friend in grade 10 wrote a paper about her boyfriend. Her other friend did a book report on Swallows and Amazons in grade 9. Bashing the curriculum is not helpful, but I would understand the professors' dismay at the level of competency (or incompetency) from the students who are coming in. A TA and a professor at this university told me that the percentage of acceptably written papers that they receive is about 15% in first year and they said that was being generous. Second year is a little better and by 3rd year it's much improved. But honestly, can you imagine the shock of the students? Here they've been getting in the 90s and they are all of a sudden bombing. They must wonder what's hit them and I'm sure it's very discouraging. Which is why I think the first year profs should give a little more help to these kids. They have an entrance writing course which everyone has to take unless you test out, but even with that the students still aren't writing well. Your last paragraph is so true. We boarded a girl who was helping at the writing centre where the students come for assistance. She said that the ESL students were fairly easy to work with because she could tell them that they'd misplaced a metaphor or their verb was conjugated incorrectly. With the North American students, they would look at her and say, "what's a verb?" Yikes. I'm must say, I'm sooooo glad that I used the writing program I did with my daughter. She has her grammar down very well, and the program taught style, so she writes well. Now I think she just needs to conform herself a bit more to the structure, keep working on developing her ideas, and she'll do just fine. If she came in without style, with the emphasis on structure, I think it would be too late to learn it now.
  6. Generally with regard to the "opinion" I think my daughter felt that she was taking the essay a certain way, had her arguments well laid out (and confirmed by the editors), yet the prof was putting in these comments to "steer" it a little more to what she would have liked to have heard. I do see your point though and I doubt she lost marks for them as they were only opinions. I'll certainly ask her. She's preparing for finals and I have income tax to do, so I'll try to get it out, but if you don't hear from me by the beginning of May, please pm me! Keep in mind this is a Canadian university and more and more I'm getting a sense that there might be some interesting differences. When your daughter received her papers back did you feel that they were thoroughly marked and read? I really do get the impression that this professor is simply being hard on the kids to challenge them. I actually don't have a problem with this and actually prefer it, IF the university sticks to their own rules and it does affect a possible scholarship. I hate grades. I know that they're necessary for assessment but my, they do seem to get in the way of learning. :sad: My dd has worked SO hard in this course: she's spoken often in class, completes her assignments diligently, has met with the professor numerous times for clarification and her mark is virtually unchanged. She feels a little discouraged because of the marks (and not about the actually mark she's getting necessarily because I think she understands its subjectivity, just that the marks haven't changed to show improvement), even when I show her a noticeable improvement in her writing between her first assignment and her last and even when the professor says that her writing has improved. Have I said, that I hate grades. ;) I'm sorry about your daughter's experience. That's rotten. My dd has a couple of people in her class who are taking their English classes at this university because of the poor reputation of the English departments at other institutions. I'm also wondering if there are regional differences. Some of the comments about how things work in the U.S. I've found very different in Canada, and some of my dd's experiences between Canadian and U.S. high school level courses were very different as well. Well, as far as we can tell, this professor does not give A's. My dd will keep asking though. Many of the students share what they receive on their papers, so she does know that she's doing well and the professor's comments about her are excellent. I simply think that she's a VERY hard marker. My dd's friend got an "OUTSTANDING" paper back yesterday with almost no corrections and she received 80%. I think that's the professor's idea of an A. :D Yes, I think there is a huge element of trying to find out what the teacher wants in many cases. It would probably be wise to stick with a teacher after you've had a course with them, for as many courses as you can, because it takes one course to figure out their preferences. My daughter threw in something in her "response paper" that she thought the professor would like and she had a glowing comment about it. It's really disappointing though that there isn't more support for the student developing his own ideas. However, I've had some excellent classes where the opposite is true. I took one class where I argued/discussed (nicely, of course) with the professor about the items in the text that we had to use ........ we had such wonderful discussions, I received a great mark and (even though I didn't like the text) it turned out to be one of the most beneficial courses that I've ever taken. I still remember it fondly to this day.
  7. Yes, her thesis statement could have been too weak. They did spend a class on writing their thesis statements and my dd took her thesis statement into the professor with the outline for her essay so I assumed that wouldn't have been the case. I'll have to ask her more about it i.e., whether she altered the original statement, etc. That's a really good point about the academic writing ...... it allows people who are perhaps not naturally good writers to be successful. My dd's writing program taught originality/style within structure and she's used to examples like Ben Franklin, and those who perhaps wrote outside the box. She will probably need to conform somewhat to these new expectations. Her friend in class, who received really low marks for her first two essays, decided to write the research essay sticking rigidly to the thesis statement/topic sentence/concluding sentence structure, and used all the catch words, like scientism, materialism, magnanimity. Her thoughts weren't that well-developed, as she basically put "scientism does this, here is an example from the book; materialism does this, here is an example from the book," etc. and she received a much higher mark than before. The essay was rather boring (and she knew it), but she decided to jump that hoop and see what happened. It seems to have worked, so if that's the case, my dd will just have to get less creative and more technical. This is a really good point, but honestly, the comment is quite obviously inaccurate, even if the thesis statement is weak. Both the references to Bilbo not being an anti-hero are in concluding sentences. It's been helpful though to hear that the markers might just skim the papers and I'll pass that information on to my dd. Thanks for this comment, Bluegoat. The professor obviously read it but missed something rather important. The dual reading for both form and content was exactly what I was expecting and both teacher/editors said the same. You live in Canada, don't you? I've noticed differences between expectations of Canadian vs. U.S. courses (high school level) that my daughter has taken, so I wonder if the different expectations come out of these different experiences......
  8. I can ask her but I wouldn't post it here. If a highschool English teacher, AP English teacher and a professor (and I didn't mentiion the Orthodox priest who was another editor :ohmy: ) can't agree, I can imagine the kerfuffle it would cause here with differing opinions. If you like, I can ask her if she minds if I send it to you in a pm. She might go for that. In any case, I'll talk with her after she sees the professor ---- now it will be Thursday. My dd said there was a line of students today wanting to speak with her today about their essays and there wasn't enough time to see her. Her office hours on Thursday are longer than an hour, so she's hoping to get in then.
  9. The words "conspiracy theory" are inappropriate to use. They are the PPs words and not mine and my comment was never intended to convey that idea. I wasn't even thinking about my dd and her situation as to my mind, it didn't apply. I was told by my friend's daughter that students receive small scholarships based on their grades, but of course, you have to be enrolled full-time to receive them (it's a Canadian private university so I believe it works differently than the U.S. ...??). I assumed it was possible they would possibly grade harder because of this. Again, I was not aggrieved or attempting to be accusatory or (again) even referring to my dd .... I was simply curious and trying to gather information. I now rather regret it. :sad: Thanks for the information with regard to the way U.S. scholarships work, as I was completely ignorant in that area. Do I really sound like I'm taking it personally? I'm not, honestly. From the end comments, the professor loved my daughter's writing, she likes her and my daughter likes the professor. But it appears the professor either didn't read the paper well, or misunderstood something; that is really the only relevant issue at this point. So my dd simply needs to get it sorted out.
  10. Thanks so much for this feedback. It certainly makes good sense. I am getting the impression that while the professor does like her writing, she is trying to corral it, and while it may seem rigid now, it will be for the benefit in the future.
  11. It's certainly possible. I've been reading some essays by Wendell Berry, E.B. White, Chesterton, Montaigne, etc. and many of them are brilliantly insightful without the tight academic structure. Why is academic writing so structured? It is a stepping stone, in that only after learning the rules can you break them? Just another thought I'm pondering ....
  12. Don't worry, she won't. She just wanted to make sure her feeling about the prof possibly not reading the paper was accurate and they both concurred. But she would NEVER bring that up to the professor. My dd is very good with people, so I'm sure the conversation will go fine.
  13. Wow, that was a very uncharitable response. The link to grading and scholarships is certainly a logical possibility; from a business POV it certainly makes sense. I'm not sure if it's true or not, however, which was why I was asking .... for information. I'm not frustrated with the situation, I'm simply looking for information that pertains to the situation. My dd is a 16 year old trying to navigate the expectations of university life; both of us are "newbies" and we've received tons of wonderful help on this thread. If my comments have bothered you enough to elicit that response, it's probably best not to read them.
  14. She's put the comment in the third paragraph where my dd begins to define an anti-hero, so it really does appear that she is assuming what my dd is going to say. A comment later is similar. Yes, it's certainly possible that my dd was not clear enough for the professor on her thesis statement, but there is nothing marked there, except a check mark. So I guess she'll find out when she goes in to ask. I'm beginning to wonder if you do have to hit readers over the head with your points in university papers in the proper schematic with very little room for originality. My dd was attempting to be subtle and show more than tell, but I wonder if this approach could be a detriment.
  15. Ah, okay, thanks. There are comments and marks all over the paper so yes, absolutely you would think that. I'll give you the example. The main questionable comment (in large letters at the top of the page) is: "the term anti-hero is not appropriate for Tolkien [re: Bilbo] who espouses the Christian heroism of meekness, pity, & courage" My daughter wrote in her essay, "He [bilbo] is definitely not an anti-hero such as ....." and later "Bilbo Baggins is fundamentally different from these two hero stereotypes [classic hero & anti-hero]." Her whole essay is full of the pity and meekness and courage that Bilbo shows, even going so far as to use the example of Bilbo pitying Gollum and sparing his life. One of the teacher/editors thinks that the professor probably read the paper and marked as she went instead of reading the full paper and then marking it, so she assumed my dd was going to be referring to Bilbo as an anti-hero when in fact, she didn't. Perhaps the professor forgot to go back and remove a couple of these comments. In any case, I think my dd will try to see the professor later today and she'll find out then.
  16. Thanks for your feedback. That's what she's doing to do. I would certainly hope I didn't come across as expecting either of those things! But I do expect the professor to read papers and grade them accordingly and do not think that's an unreasonable expectation under any circumstance. If a paper isn't read properly, it's not a matter of "professional stye" but a professional mistake that needs to be addressed. Now how you do it is another matter, and my dd will be sure to be respectful when she meets with her. She actually likes her alot and the professor likes my dd so I'm sure it will go fine. We're simply trying to figure out this "university culture", and it's certainly been a learning experience. I'm grateful that we're learning now before she begins full-time.
  17. That's what she's going to do. I don't think it's going to do much good though. I really didn't know English grades/departments were such a problem! ETA: I also wonder if the grading is low because of the scholarships. Students can win scholarships each year for their grades, so wouldn't it make sense for the university to grade students lower to save money? Just sayin' ............
  18. Why not? Most people have advised not to bring up the grammatical errors simply because in their experience it doesn't do much good and the mark stays the same. My dd is planning to ask about the grammatical errors in order to learn from them, and if the professor decides to give her an extra mark or two, she'll take it. However, the issue of the professor not reading the paper is different, especially when she doesn't seem to have picked up the main thesis of the paper. I think I'm right when I say that a problem with a main argument of a research paper can lose a student a large number of marks. And also, with a misunderstanding, the student is now confused, which makes that particular learning experience much, much less profitable. So I do see a distinction between the two; but she is going to ask about both.
  19. I'd never heard of it either. But honestly it was very, very beneficial. The peer editing was a complete waste of time.
  20. More box-ticking ...... that's interesting. My friend seems to think she learns more from the Canadian profs, but I'm sure the trend of the UK & US profs will come here eventually. When I look at U.S. structures for essays, I've noticed that they do seem more rigid, and therefore there is less room for creativity and developing your own style. It's too bad ..... I don't disagree with your view, but I felt the professor nitpicked. My dd was attempting to show that instead of the classic hero (with fame and glory and bravery but lacking in humility or ethical traits) or the present-day anti-hero (who is dark, conflicted yet lacks ethics and is often ruled by emotion), Tolkien presented in Bilbo a new type of hero. The intent with my dd's essay was not to present that Bilbo was a Christian hero, but instead that Tolkien brought heroism out of the realms of the gods, or superheroes and into the realms of man. However, the Christian worldview component is still shown in her essay, the reader is simply not beaten over the head with it. In the same way, Tolkien's Christian worldview was echoed in his writing but wasn't absolutely obvious.The professor appears to have wanted my dd to use words such as "fallen"; when my dd separated "courage" and "moral decision" when describing Bilbo, she wanted her to use "moral courage" (my dd separated them because she wanted to emphasize the different heroes --- ie. Achilles has courage but he is not moral,--- and also wanted to separate courage from decision as they do not always go together - an important point); and she wanted my dd to put that Bilbo's courage was "true heroism". I just thought it was going a little far by putting her (the profs) opinions over my dds and being super picky. Even so, in other areas of the essay, the professor does have comments that are quite valid. Because of the overlapping components of the essay --- each of the three heroes can share certain traits --- my dd could perhaps have used better wording or been clearer in her explanations in a couple of parts.
  21. Thanks all for the advice on the second comma splice example and the page numbers and citation. I'll let me dd know. Don't let it scare you ....... but it's helpful to know what you're facing and I wish I'd had more information going in. Hornblower's advice on looking up the professor on ratemyprofessor and polling others is a good one. I used to think all the students on ratemyprofessor were just complaining but from now on I'll take their comments more seriously.
  22. Thanks for the information, Hornblower. It's interesting to learn about what challenges students are having to face in university/college life. It's a weird dichotomy where education can be dumbed down and less is expected of students, but there are also very heavy expectations on them that can be quite unreasonable. I laughed, however, upon reading that you had to "censor" your first post. ;) The subjective marking is so frustrating, isn't it? The university where my dd is attending is a private university and she knew going in that the professors were hard markers. I know one lady who got B- & C+s there, went to a university in the States for her masters and was easily getting As. My dd's marks are near the top of the class with her 73s. The expectations of some of the professors are particularly frustrating. I feel that you need to figure out what they want and reproduce it. That's not learning, IMO. For example, in my dd's paper you can tell that the professor wants her to allude to Bilbo being a Christian hero. My dd deliberately kept it more on a moral level because she knew Tolkien did not like to bring his theology into his books, and in fact, disliked the fact the C.S. Lewis did, so she tried to respect that and have her paper echo his views. It's obvious the professor wanted it stated differently, which is not allowing the student to learn and develop their own ideas, but parrot the professor's. While I believe this sort of expectation is rampant in most universities, I was a little surprise to see it with this professor. I've taken a few courses at this university and with regard to the Christian aspect, the professors tend to play devil's advocate and plummet you with opposite ideas to your own to help you understand what you believe. It was rather refreshing ... An interesting story for you: we live in Canada where my friend is doing her Ph.D. in sociology. She says the Canadian professors that she has are still quite balanced and their requirements, while stringent, are reasonable. However, she says when they get visiting professors from Oxford, or Harvard, or Yale, they work you to the bone as if the copious amounts of work (where she feels she learns less) is going to somehow transform you into an amazing academic. She's a wife and mother and, needless to say, has no time for her family and is highly stressed. I don't envy students of today. Thanks for your wishes for my dd. She's not really upset about it, just irritated because she doesn't feel like she's been treated fairly. Welcome to life, right? ;) ETA: Oh, and she can't drop it as it's almost done.
  23. Honestly, from being a homeschooler, realizing how subjective marking can be and considering my dd is still in grade 11, in this case, I haven't been too worried about grades ....... she was past what I could do with her in English and I wanted her in an environment where she'd be challenged and learn. While I do think she's learned something (if nothing else, life skills), I'm a little disappointed with her experience. I don't think this professor is a bad teacher, but I do think that she should be teaching third or fourth year students and a professor who is more willing to mentor students should teach the first year courses. However, my dd is trying to get the president's scholarship, which means she needs 90% and above in four high school courses. We were initially told that as long as she had less than 24 university credits, they would take high school marks but now they're saying since she's taking this course, they would just count it as a dual credit for English. I'm not happy about this because we were initially told she had a choice of whether we used it as dual credit or not. If they use it then the grade really does matter, not to mention that she is being judged on completely different criteria than the rest of the applicants. Her professor agrees it's unfair and says she has no problem believing my dd is getting in the 90s in high school English ......... but she can't get above a 73 on a paper in her class no matter what she does. The AP English teacher said my dd's paper was a definite A (the other teacher did too) and he's a very hard marker with very high expectations so I can't figure out the professor at all, except perhaps she just doesn't think a grade 11 students should get higher marks no matter how well she writes. The professor often compliments her on her writing, so perhaps that is the case. In any case, I really didn't want to focus on the grades and have it be about the learning, but sadly the importance of grades tend to creep in no matter what philosophy one wants to have. :sad:
  24. Wow, thank you all so much for your feedback with regard to the comma splice example! I couldn't find much wrong with the sentence but I certainly couldn't have broken it down as well as Cosmos. And thanks for the kind comment, Cosmos. My dd needed something to buoy her spirits. This other example of a comma splice is little more questionable: Literature and film are imbued with classic hero personas, originating with Achilles in The Iliad to the time of modern heroes such as Percy Jackson, from Percy Jackson and the Olympians, however, although they are centuries apart, they both share the same heroic qualities. She has the comma splice between "Olympians" and "however". On another note with regard to citations, in one paragraph where my dd is describing hobbits, the professor has noted on my dd's paper that she needs to give "page numbers and citations from the primary text". My dd is not using quotes from the text, but summarizing the qualities of Bilbo that do not make him an obvious hero at the start of the novel. My dd understands why they would be needed if she was using a quote, but since it's her own summary, she's confused by this request. Has anyone come across this expectation before?
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