...and two more essays to comment on for tomorrow. (Obviously canceled dinner with Paul--which turned out to be best for both of us.) I'll hope to get them done tomorrow between appointments. Actually, there may be three, or even four more: one student didn't upload his essay to Turnitin on time (for the fifth time--not counting last semester), but he knows if he doesn't upload it today, he doesn't get comments anyway; the other student uploaded on time--but somehow I only got the first page of her essay and six or seven blank pages. So she's been informed that a. she needs to upload the complete essay and 2. I may not get a chance to mark it before our conference tomorrow. (Her essay goes on the bottom of the stack.)
And I spent way way way longer than I should have trying to prove that a student had plagiarized. I know she did: she's talking about concepts that are far beyond her ken and using vocabulary that clearly is not natural to her (as sometimes it's used in very garbled and weird ways). But I can't prove it--not without doing a lot more careful, in-depth research and reading of possible sources. I'm going to talk to her about it. I won't flat out accuse her of plagiarizing, but I did say that a lot of the language didn't sound like hers and suggested that perhaps she'd run across things in her research that ended up in her essay...? I haven't given it a mark yet; I'll decide what to do after I talk with her tomorrow.
I have very mixed feelings about this young woman. At first, I liked her a lot: she seemed earnest (if strangely confused) and very hard working and diligent. Then she made the comment about how stressful it is to be forced to do in-depth analysis, which systemically pissed me off. But my interactions with her are pleasant--and it was pointed out to me that her comment about the stress of having to do the work is really an expression of fear and confusion, which calls up my desire to be compassionate, not furious. But I will say that part of why I worked so hard to prove the plagiarism is that part of me wants to nail her to the wall: "You think doing in-depth analysis is stressful? If you'd done it, you'd have had a shot at this essay, but as it is, how's failing the class for plagiarism in terms of producing stress?" I may still be able to make that point, without being quite so vindictive and vituperative about it.
Speaking of vindictive and vituperative: one of the students in my 5:30 class is right on the edge of tipping my opinion of her from positive to negative, as she has once again missed the upload to Turnitin. She's told me several times that it is unlike her to miss important deadlines--and yet she keeps missing these deadlines, so maybe it is, in fact, like her. It bugs me more when a potentially really good student fucks up than when a dolt does, or a whiner. I can simply write the dolts and whiners off. The good students, I care about.
I guess that's why I was so angered by Miss Stressed. I think she has the potential to be good, but you'd sure have a hard time proving it with any evidence I have in hand. It's just a gut feeling, but her actual work? Not so stellar.
So, backing up for an overview of the 14 essays that were on the docket today: 1: Excellent, one of the best students in all three classes put together. I don't think he needs a lit elective, but boy would I love to have him in SF in the fall. 2. Had 3/4 page in class yesterday, uploaded nothing, got a terse email from me explaining that he's probably just lost his last chance of passing the class. 3. Plagiarist. This was a no doubt situation: Turnitin flagged 40% of his essay as plagiarized. I printed the report, sent the e-mail, copied the stuff to send to the dean. He fails the class. Period. 4. Potentially good student (and ran for president of the student government: I hope she got elected), not the greatest writer, but a very earnest, hard worker. 5. Chronically confused, but better than she thinks she is. Her essay wasn't bad. 6. Nice young man, disaster as a student largely because his life outside of school is a train-wreck. Needs to learn a hell of a lot about writing well. 7. The Odd Duck. His essay was surprisingly mediocre. 8. Student who withdrew from 102 last semester--and who still can't upload to Turnitin. No essay to grade. 9. Miss Stressed. Spent forever looking unsuccessfully for sources she plagiarized. 10. Uploaded only one page. Waiting for the whole deal. 11. Older student, non-native speaker of English. Good ideas but mostly generalizations, not focused analysis of the text. Still, much better than her previous essays. 12. Good solid essay--but my brains were undergoing vapor lock, so it took me an age to write one comment and figure out were it should go.
And now it's 10 p.m., I'm still in the office, and I have to try to get here by 9 tomorrow so I can whack through those remaining essays. Big meeting with the president tomorrow, oh joy and rapture.
As a woman at the riding stable said last week, I'm off like a prom dress...