Monday, February 09, 2004


I received many inspiring suggestions for yesterday's entry, but have yet to decide. Ooooh, six more days. (ToT;)

Response to Ca1b0y's Comment of the day:
Caution: Self-promoting/back-patting entry below. Before proceeding, place air-sickness bag or leak-proof waste paper basket within reach.

Purin_kun: Onigiriman loves papers. However, in lecture class with no TA, long papers are a no-go.

Gt_Ninja: It may not look like a lot of work but though you produce little he expects high quality. In another class you could get away with some BS for that 2 page write up on X, Y or Z but not with the Onigiri-sensei. Of course that makes the class worth taking.

Kizyr: Onigiriman-sensei's film class is one of the most worthwhile Japan-related classes you'll ever find. It's fun, and you get plenty out of it--it's a great overview of Japanese society at that. But, yeah, it's much harder than you may think; it's not just watching movies all the time.
Indeed, Purin_kun, Gt_Ninja and Kyzer say a mouthful. Purin_kun already graduated so he can say what he wants at this point. Ms. Ninja and Mr. Kyzer are current students so they may be sucking up. Hahahahah. Just kidding. Don't take it seriously, 'kay? Anyway, can you imagine 50 students submitting a mid-length paper, say 10 pages. That claculates to 500 pages. Now reading 500 pages by a single author is fine. There is a style you acclimate to and--hopefully--a consistent train of thought. But 50 students will have 50 different styles, each writing something different. Even if they write about the same movie, they will approach it differently, unless they're cheating of course... I have found it better to give them short assignments over the course of the semester. It is, I believe, better for them, because they will internalize EVERY film they see, because articulating a coherent thought about a film--even a short thought--is more challenging than watching 12 passively and writing about one in depth. Further, they will be engaged for the entire semester, not only at midterm and final time. And many of my students reflect SleepingCutie's comment that it is better to write short things over the course of a semester than having your entire grade ride on one or two submissions.

Just as crucial, I believe, is the ability to write concisely yet thoroughly. One of the hardest things to do is to say what you want to say in a limited amount of space. When my students graduate, they will work in private or govt. offices that will require them to write summaries, and so this is a talent that needs to be developed. NO ONE in the real world wants to read a 15-20 page paper. Believe me. It is quality I seek, not quanitity. And students can hone a skill they will actually use in the future. Indeed, a former student came to see me the other day to thank me, because she got a job based, in part, on her ability to write a concise yet thorough summary she and other candidates had to submit to the potential employer. (Maybe I should practice what I preach. Sheesh!)

Ultimately, my students end up writing--including the take-home final--around 20 pages for the entire semester, which would be equivalent to a 15 page paper and a 5 page final. Including the weekly quizzes, that's an adequate workload for the semester that keeps them engaged for its entire length. The added bonus is that its easier to grade a little at a time as well. Although, Musubi-chan is bothered by virtually no weekends during the Spring semester.... Speaking of which, I have to start planning the Karee (curry) rice party for J majors... My specialty is dry curry...

Would you rather have one or two exams/papers determine your grade? Or would you prefer shorter more frequent assignments/quizzes? And what kind of curry do you like? Japanese? Indian? Thai? Something else?

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