Out of 41 students (in two sections), 36 lost points on the mini-quiz because they didn’t notice one of the questions. The question was accompanied by a picture that occupied almost a quarter of the page. (This is Spanish Elementary II, we describe pictures a lot.) Mind you, the students knew how to do the assignment because the absolute majority did four very similar tasks perfectly. They just didn’t notice this question. When I asked them why they thought the huge picture was even there if it wasn’t supposed to be addressed as part of the mini-quiz, they just stared at me blankly.
There were several ways of realizing that the question and the picture were part of this mini-quiz. Yet, most students just skipped it. These are very good students, people. They could have all gotten As and Bs if they had done the entire set of assignments. And there was time aplenty. The students rushed out of the classroom at least 10 minutes before the time had run out.
Of course, the students were unhappy about losing points. I, however, think that I was right in reducing their grades. Sloppiness is not a marketable skill. No matter how bright you are, if you can’t be careful and meticulous about your work, you will not be very successful. I say this from personal experience. I don’t find it hard to generate ideas and come up with interesting new readings of the works of literature that I analyze. It’s the sloppiness that often gets me down. Checking all quotes, dates of publication, names, places, spellings – what a drag! I realized, however, that my carelessness was an act of disrespect towards my own work.
Believe me, it is very humiliating to get a response from a reviewer who mentions that I used the word “faucet” instead of “facet” (my written English is very good, so I really know the difference) and that I quoted the title of the novel I analyze incorrectly.
Now that I have learned for myself how detrimental sloppiness can be, I think it’s my duty to transmit this knowledge to the students.
What do you, people, think? Was I right to reduce the grades because of this act of sloppiness?