Monday, April 26, 2010


I'm at that point in the semester when my patience is wearing a bit. And students are at that point in the semester when they forget basics, things like turning in homework, bringing drafts to peer review sessions.

It's not a good combination.

One of my students complained about his peer revision grade. (I require my first year students to write up a peer revision response and bring two copies to class. I get one copy to grade, while the peer gets the other to use in revision.) He'd written a couple sentences, along the sort of line, "This is a good paper, but I saw a spelling mistake in the third sentence and you need a comma in the fifth sentence." (Peer revision isn't for proofreading.)

I explained to him that to get full credit, his peer revisions need to focus on helping the writer as fully as possible and to treat his peers' work with respect. He complained that he shouldn't even have to do peer revision because he shouldn't have to help anyone else with their work.

Here's the thing. I tell my students up front in the syllabus about this requirement. A student who doesn't want to take peer revision seriously can drop and try to find a class that doesn't do peer revision, can go along and try to do a good job (and maybe even learn something), or can blow it off and accept the lousy grade. But you can't blow it off and tell me it's not important and expect a great grade.

I have to say, have you ever noticed that there are like 3/20 people in any class that will require extra attention, not because they're academically unprepared or linguistically challenged, but because they're just so effing special that they need their hand held. I'm willing to hold hands to a certain extent, so long as the student is also doing his/her part and making an effort. But my hands are tired of students who seem to think the world revolves around them.

Because, really, it totally revolves around me. (/sigh)


  1. This semester, I have about 55/60 who are all so effing special. Even including the grad students who are doing things like e-mailing me at 10:30 on Sunday night to ask what the office hours are for faculty in OTHER DEPARTMENTS ON CAMPUS.

  2. Maybe you need signs on your office doors saying, "This is hell and you have a snowflake's chance."

  3. I hate students who have this attitude about peer review. They aren't complaining about other people helping them out! They're only complaining about having to help others. Psh! For shame!

  4. fie has such a great point. [although i imagine that a few of the special snowflakes really don't want help themselves, either, on account of being so special.]

    my kids [21 and 22] had peer revision exercizes as far back as elementary and middle school, and by middle school, even the child who eventually decided against college was giving more thoughtful reviews than your student.

    the ability to have constructive conversations about a particular topic &/or piece of writing is an essential part of learning critical thinking. and it is also a necessary skill, even outside academia. so, there are good reasons for including peer review as a part of the curriculum, no matter what the snowflake plans to eventually do with his/her life.

  5. I agree with the 3/20 rule. I had a student make an appointment with me today to discuss what was wrong with my teaching.

    He didn't keep the appointment.

  6. Anonymous7:19 PM

    Word. I'm THIS CLOSE to exploding on some of that specialness.

  7. Yes, yes, and yes. I've been holding so many hands this semester that I'm afraid I might have my arms chopped off.