October 25, 2011

My least favorite question from students

"Can you look at this and tell me if it's okay?"

In other words: Can you read my entire paper / problem set / whatever and basically grade it in advance, and then tell me exactly what I need to change to get a perfect grade? And if you give me a vague suggestion instead of telling me exactly what to write, I'll just send you revisions and ask you if they are "okay." I'll keep doing this until you either tell me the answer or relent and say it's fine. Then if I get anything less than a perfect grade, I can protest that you said it was fine.

I don't mind answering a lot of questions -- I really don't -- but they should be specific, thoughtful questions. Some of them ask so many questions that they effectively get me to tell them how to improve everything in advance, but at least they're working for it instead of just expecting me to do the work.


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