Thursday, September 11, 2014

Are my standards too high?

This week, my students turned in a scientific research paper. They have been working on it for the past 4 weeks. To begin, the due date was discussed every class period for the past two weeks. The paper was supposed to be research on the topic that they chose to do experiments on, so that they would know the background science.

I have 75 students. I received 24 papers today. Meaning that 67% of my papers are either going to be late, or not coming at all.

For the ones that were turned in, there were a number of rules that I had for the paper:
-Must be typed. Times New Roman font, 12 point, double spaced, 1 inch margins
- Reference page, with at least 5 references, and these references had to be from scientific, peer reviewed publications. Not popular press, and no Wikipedia. I even had the learning resource department come in and give a lecture on proper references and how to cite them.
- must look professional and neat
- do not mention your experiment, this is a review of the relevant science, not a proposal about your experiment.
- No first or second person pronouns: Me, my, you, yours, and the like are not to be used.
- Spelling, punctuation, and grammar count

Only four of the papers had a title page. Three were script fonts, and one of those used a different color for the text of each paragraph. One had what appears to be pizza sauce on it, another was water stained.

Not one of them had 5 valid sources. Some sources included: an FAQ page from the Mayo clinic, an article in people magazine, and links to the web page for a television show. My personal favorite was the student who stated on his resources page: "Google the underlined text in each paragraph for relevant sources and further reading."

There were frequent errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Then there were the factual errors:
- "Dolphins make squeaking noises with their mouths."
- "when dolphins are at high speeds, they leap to save energy, so that explains why dolphins attend to leap out of the water so that they can get more air to restore more energy just like humans."
- "The largest dolphin are the Amazon Dolphins & they can reach 2.7m in feet"
- Listening to the wrong type of music can cause a heart attack, or lower your heart rate and cause death.

Are my standards too high? I don't see a single paper worthy of an A. There may be 2-3 B grades, and maybe 5 or 6 C's. The majority of them have not even attempted to turn in a paper, and the rest appear to have phoned it in.

This is why we are getting our butts kicked as an economy. The kids just don't care, and then they grow into adults that just don't care.


Don Gwinn said...

There is absolutely nothing for you to do about that except grade them as fairly as you possibly can, then drop the bombs among them and watch the howling commence.

I'm working on it from over here at my post in middle-school alternative school (where you go when you get kicked out of other schools.)

Might be a good idea to warn your boss before you lower the boom, though. Some of the special snowflakes may feel the need to bother that worthy with the unfairness of it all.

Anonymous said...

Your standards aren't too high. When I was in high school if a report was late it would automatically drop one letter grade for each day it was late. Not properly following directions would also result in a penalty. If you didn't specify that the report must be black type on white paper then the color swapper might just merit a warning.