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growing_wise in faculty_r_us

Hi all,

I am a first-time instructor and I have a quick question for those of you with experience.  We have our Core Assessment project due this week (by Sunday), which is the one assignment in class worth the most points.  Today I had a student e-mail me with her project draft attached and asked me to look over it and see if she's "on the right track".  Keep in mind, she e-mailed me today (Thursday) and it's due by Sunday midnight at the latest. 

What would you do?  On one hand I want to offer help if it's requested but on the other hand I think it's a little late in the game for her to be asking for assistance.  Thoughts?


At this point, I'm not sure what to do. I guess do whatever feels right at this point -- if you want to look it over, go for it.

In all of my classes with a decent-sized paper/project, I set an end date for when I'll accept rough drafts for review in my syllabus and am sure to mention it on the first day of class. (Usually it works out to about 2 weeks before the due date.)
That's a great idea, I'll be sure to incorporate that next time! Thanks. :)
I usually tell these students that they can give me, say, their opening paragraph or their outline or something else quite limited and specific. I will give them feedback on how to improve that and that's it.

Because otherwise I'd have two hundred students claiming "it's not fair" if I helped one and not everyone else. So stand firm and maybe incorporate that policy statement suggested by merchimerch next go-around.
Sounds like the student is looking for a copy editor more than an instructor here. But this is a problem I have observed with our expanded communications technologies. The informality and convenience of email can become a burden if allowed to.

I let my students know that I'm very happy to sit with them face-to-face and offer advice and feedback on works in progress. But I will not and do not offer feedback on emailed drafts. If a student comes into my office at ten in the morning when a draft is due later that afternoon, I'll offer feedback happily, because I think that type of personalized instruction is valuable, whenever it occurs. But, again, emailed drafts are a totally different thing, and oftentimes such requests have less to do with wanting to learn something than they do with grubbing for the best grade.

And yes, I have made exceptions to this rule for students who have work or family obligations that conflict with my office hours, but I've learned the hard way to place limitations upon electronic draft conferencing.
My standard policy is that I will only review work with students in person. If they cannot make my office hours, I will try to arrange another time. But I will not review work via email.
I always give clear instructions to students up front about
1) what I will and won't read and
2) what deadlines there are for assistance from me.

If you haven't done that and there isn't a standard system in place in your institution then go with your gut. Do you have time to do this for her, or is it very inconvenient?
I think either yes or no would be fair, but if it's no then you ought to email her immediately and say you won't, so she's not waiting for it.
Why is this an issue? If she had emailed you on Friday night or Saturday, I can see why this would be a problem. If you did not set up any deadlines to review rough drafts, then you should look it over and offer a couple of suggestions.

I do this all the time, even up to the same day something's due, but I always say it's just a "quick, cursory skim" and stick to that. I only give them feedback where really egregious errors or serious problems of logic appear. I don't do nearly as much of a close reading as I do when it's finally turned in. As long as the student knows that's what I'm doing, I've never had anybody have a problem with this policy.
The other thing to suggest is the writing center if your university has one. I often send students there who don't make my deadline for reading their drafts.

July 2010



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