The Term Papers

This is a photo of the stack of term papers I’ve basically been living with for the past two weeks. I take them with me almost everywhere I go: waiting in the emergency department at the hospital with one daughter, taking another daughter to music lessons, while another of my classes is writing their final exam. (Note: I do not take them with me to the bathroom. Because ick.) I have to take the papers with me so that I can finish marking them by the date of the final exam--my self-imposed deadline. Once, I wasn’t able to finish marking term papers by the final exam. I asked students to come and pick up their marked term papers--the ones I had spent hours and hours carefully marking, covering the pages with important feedback. Almost no one came to pick up their term paper. So now the deal is: Hand in your final exam, get your term paper.

This year, I had the luxury of having two whole weeks to mark 27 term papers. Some years, I’ve had as little as a week. That was a nightmare. I marked, ate, and slept. In that order. It’s much better when I have more time to read and enjoy the term papers. Yes, enjoy. I often learn some new things. For example, this term, I read term papers on toxic behaviour in online games, improving patient safety, error in aviation, design for left-handers, product design, design for the elderly, elderly drivers, issues in laparoscopic surgery, ergonomics of back injuries, technostress, driving safety, physical ergonomics of dentistry, ergonomics and aesthetics, designing for crime prevention, effective traffic signs, usability of the web, emotion and design, and human factors and automation. (There were multiple papers on some of these topics.)

I hope the feedback I’ve given on the papers is useful; I provide constructive feedback as much as possible. It does no good to write “This is dumb!” or “This makes no sense.” Some students struggled a lot with grammar--so much so that it gets in the way of what you’re trying to communicate. If that’s the case, I strongly recommend that you see the Centre for Writers for help in the future. Getting help should not be seen as a shortcoming; instead, view it as working on improving yourself. Everyone could stand some improvement--even the person whose term paper earned a mark of 100% (the first time ever). Because even that paper had a couple of APA style errors. Tsk.

Why aren’t you studying?


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