Mystery Solved

I always wondered why so many professors set the due date for the final essay for the last day of class. I always set my due date before Thanksgiving break, which gives me a chance to grade the essays, return them to students, and get the ones who did really badly to rewrite them. In the last week of class, I have too much things to do to worry about grading.

Now the mystery has been solved. It turns out that people wait until the last moment because they don’t want the bad grades they give out for the essays to influence the teaching evaluations students write.

I, on the other hand, always get great evaluations no matter what, so I don’t need to care.

Please forgive the self-congratulatory tone. I’m very tired, and that’s my way of boosting my energy.

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9 comments on “Mystery Solved

  1. Last day of class is not a good time, I put it last day of finals week. The presentations are at the time of the final. This is so as to maximize amount of time to teach the class and let students design papers. But, it is true: one could do it your way and then this would allow for a final exam. I may try this. Actually I WILL try this.

    • I give out really low grades for the final essays with the goal of getting the students to rewrite them. Unless they rewrite, I don’t believe they will even look at the hundreds of corrections I make.

      Next semester , I scheduled 2 rewrites and each will be done for a grade. This is the only system that works because their writing is so poor. And it makes no difference whether they write in English or Spanish. Writing is the most difficult thing to teach.

      I’m not complaining, though, because I really dig it.

      • I can do this next semester because I don’t have classes with a research project. I find that with a full-on research project, for students not familiar with the material at the beginning, the final date has to be as late as possible. But what many really need is work on forming an argument.

      • The problem is that no matter when I set the final date, most of them start working on the essay the night before the due date. If I had the slightest hope that they would actually spend the 2 extra weeks working on the essay. I would be a happy person. But not even I am that naive. :-) This is why I give “extensions” for all written assignments. They are not really extensions. They are little tricks I use to make students start working earlier than 2 hours before the due date. I feel kind of stupid having to stoop to such infantile tricks but what choice do I have?

  2. When I was an undergrad, and if I recall correctly, when I was an assistant professor, there was an administration-mandated due date for term papers that was the same accross the board for all classes at the institution. It matched yours, essentially.

  3. I always regret that my graduate students fill out evaluations before they read my brilliant comments on their seminar papers. So a large part of my work for them does not enter into the equation.

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