One of the great rewards of teaching first year writing courses is that sometimes students really do demonstrate that they've learned something. It may not be that I've taught them whatever, but somehow they've learned something.
I ask my students to ask a real question for their research papers. But even so, most have a sense of what they think the answer is. I can tell that they've really learned something when towards the end of writing their paper they come talk to me about how to revise because they've totally changed their answer.
It warms my cold, icy heart, it does!