Saturday, March 4, 2006

A Reader from Pennsylvania Wonders What it's Going to Take to Liberate Her from Bad Papers and Limitless Unfulfilled Potential

I am sitting here with a mid-term essay exam I gave yesterday, reading through answers that could not have been written by anyone who's actually attended my classes for the first 8 weeks of the semester.

There are mistakes of such a variety that I'm tempted to throw the whole batch into a hole somewhere in my back yard.

Dates are wrong. World leaders are identified as being heads of state from other countries, even other continents. Two weeks spent on Cuba and I have a student who identifies the "Chairman" of Cuba during the Bay of Pigs as Leonard Brezhnev. My husband thinks I'm making that up for a joke.

My students occasionally surprise me with claps on the back and thanks for a good class, and even sometimes perform in class as though material is getting through.

And then this. I've graded five exams so far: 65, 70, 60, 50, & 45. It's so disheartening. My colleagues tell me that the students here are great! Our chair recently posted GPAs from our Fall semester, and students in my department averaged a B+ through all of our undergraduate courses.

I'm told in the faculty lounge that scholarships are at stake, fellowships on the line. Students "know" they have to perform at a high level.

And then this.