Wednesday, November 22, 2006

They might as well've given me a pizza recipe...

The time has come for me to grade my students' final projects in Syntax & Semantics. They were assigned a project where they had to do original research in either the area of Syntax (language structure) or Semantics (meaning). Out of 25 students, 10 handed in A+ projects. They did WAY more work than was necessary and I'm so proud of their final products. About 5 girls handed in decent projects. They followed the directions of the assignment and fulfilled most requirements. And well,the other 10, they might have just handed me recipes for pizza because I have no idea how what is written on the papers relates to what I assigned them to do.

There should not have been any confusion over this project.Yes, it was probably the first time any of them have been assigned original research, but we discussed the project in class more than once. I even gave them a four page list of ideas for project topics AND gave them an assignment to make a proposal (outlining their goals, hypothesis and methods) which counted for extra credit. If they had a low homework grade I would replace that grade with the grade they received on their proposal. I also gave all the girls who handed in proposals advice about how to better go about or focus their research.

Aside from that I gave everyone a detailed handout outlining how the proposal should look. I gave two outlines myself, one based in syntax and one in semantics, to show exactly HOW they were to go about making the proposal.

THEN, after half the girls didn't hand in this proposal, I set up extra office hours so that they could come to me for help a few days before the project was due. I went in to the college on a saturday (it's 30-45 minutes away by rickshaw during rush hour) only for the purpose of being available to help them on their projects. They also had my email and phone number to call me at any time (since I am usually at a diffrent college and not at Lahore College during the week). Well, the same girls came to me with questions and for clarification, the ones who already had A+ projects in the works. The other ones just took off after their class and didn't bother.

So now I've got their papers and what do I do with them? I'm not even quite sure what they were doing or trying to prove. I think they were just trying to write something down on paper. One girl did a project about how some speakers use "a" when they should use "an." This deal with phonology, which was not the topic of our course. One girl wrote that her goal was to observe subject/verb agreement. She then gave her students a quiz which had absolutely nothing to do with subject verb agreement (test looks like something I've seen online....) and told me their scores. A bunch of students just wrote down a number of "incorrect" sentences and handed me a list. Meanwhile half of the allegedly "correct" sentences are actually incorrect.

If this was the US, all of those papers would be out with the trash. This project is 20% of their final grade.

.........anyway this is what you deal with as a teacher in Pakistan

Worse part is I failed those girls last year and suggested that they need to learn English before going for a Masters in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and they were still admitted to the second year of the program.

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