If You Write It

will they read it? I’m talking about students, here, though I could be talking about anyone.

It’s time for me to start preparing course manuals for the fall. In so doing, I’m reviewing the included style guides. Right there, in the eight to ten page manual, is everything students need to know about the trivia as well as the important parts of essay writing: what’s a thesis statement, how much lead time to give for revisions, how to format a foot or end note, how to choose evidence to illustrate their point.

I go over these pages with them in the first class. I review them as assignments come due and I reiterate their points as I hand back the papers, a large number of which fail to implement even the most basic of the style guide requirements.

I’m beginning to think I should have these points printed onto cloth and sewn into a jacket. Maybe if I become a walking advertisement for the principles, then they might sink in?

10 Responses to “If You Write It”

  1. profgrrrrl Says:

    I believe you need engraved invitations with calligraphied envelopes to get them to read it :)

  2. Wegie Says:

    Trust me, they won’t read it. I never read it when I was a student the first time round; they never read them when I wrote them when I was a lecturer (in fact I seem to recall that I just adapted somebody else’s set of guidelines); and now I never read them now I’m a mature student again.

    The best suggestion I’ve seen recently was make them sign to say they’d read them: it makes the more in sorrow than in anger “but you said you’d read the guidelines” much more effective when you’ve shoved a piece of paper with their pawprint on it under their nose, and the embarrassment factor may produce some of the desired effect.

    Of course, failing essays that don’t footnote or reference also works once word gets around about Professor Ancarett’s policies . . . but I would fear for the effect on your student evaluations and future course enrolments ;-)

  3. Barbara Says:

    If you make the jacket, don’t forget to add the flashing lights and web link. That might make them read it.

  4. Pilgrim/Heretic Says:

    If you quiz them on it, they will read it.

  5. Anastasia Says:

    the answer to “will they read it?” is always no. quizzing them will make some of them skim it and the rest of them ask their friends if they read it. nothing you can do will make it sink in.

  6. ancarett Says:

    Profgrrrrl, I firmly believe that there would be a fair number of unopened envelopes come the end of term. *sigh* Wegie? One of the nice things about my job is that I don’t have to worry about enrollments with a veritable boom in student numbers, here — my classes are all at or horrendously over-capacity. Of course, the downside is that the students can’t afford to be scared off because there aren’t too many other options for them.

    I think I’m going with P/H and Anastasia, here. I will administer a quiz on the manual, at least in my lower level classes. If a senior student hands in something that fails to follow the assignment requirements or style guide, I’ll reserve the right to make them revise and resubmit if they want a mark.

    And Barbara? I love your creative extrapolation of my jacket idea. You feel free to go right ahead and make it for your little sister, okay?

  7. Ricki Says:

    I really think that you should just dictate it all and have it recorded in mp3 format. Then they can all have it on their iPods and wouldn’t have to read it at all.

    Really Anc… I thought you would have already done this… tech gal that you are! ;-)

  8. Barbara Says:

    I love Ricki’s idea! Maybe we can collaborate with the jacket, flashing lights, and mp3 to get your message out sis?

  9. Ricki Says:

    Hurry! Hurry! Let’s get a “MySpace” so we can market this to the masses!!!!

  10. trillwing Says:

    Agreed on the quizzing thing.

    Otherwise: can you have novelty, rub-on tattoos made? Maybe if they had “Use a subject and verb on both sides of a semicolon” emblazoned on their forearms for a few days, they’d finally get it.