Next time I teach a lecture course I need to point out than any essay that basically rehashes my lectures is probably going to get a pretty bad grade.
But, you know, you need to CITE my lectures if you are going to use information from them. Randomly throwing out facts without documentation is not a good technique, even when they happen to be true.
But sometimes they cite things I don’t remember saying. Twice. Uh-oh.
If I assigned two articles that debate each other for the same class, rehashing their arguments and siding with one over the other is similarly not a path to a strong essay. (Admittedly, I did not do a good job of writing the prompt that encouraged students to apply the arguments to different contexts. I wish someone had asked me what I meant in class. New in-class exercise–break down the structure of an argument (the framework—oh wait, that is how we discussed the articles) and apply it to a different situation (guess I skipped that part). Although enough people got it I don’t think it’s all my fault. The four who missed it got a low B-, which I think is higher than they really deserve.)
Last 10 essays!
In an upper-division thematic class, if all your evidence comes from a single day of class, that is also a sign of a potentially weak essay. Not insurmountably so, but an easy trap to fall into.
Finishing off the conclusion with, paraphrased, “this is a really important part of history that everyone should study” does not rescue a weak essay. It just reads like you are sucking up.
More phrases that make me save your essay for later: “needs to be addressed”. WTF is an “imperative option”?
“The Burbon’s reformed many aspects of Spain.” “Great Brittan” “national boarders”
Clearly I need to add more vagueness to the language on the syllabus that says I retain the right to use student words anonymously as writing examples.
Last 5 essays!
I hate to be the kind of professor who cares about something like this, but actually, it is more annoying to read essays printed double-sided. I have to move my pen away from my note sheet and use both hands to flip every page.
Things I spend way too much time on: instructing students how to footnote primary sources reprinted in a reader. Why is this so hard to get right, even when I give a precise example?
Seriously, if I told you last essay that converting your paper to MS Word wiped out all your footnotes, wouldn’t you be sure to bring me a paper copy for the next essay?
But hey, I’m getting some good essay titles.
Damn, these last 2 essays are taking forever.