Mandatory makes them sound like an unpleasant chore, but for me they were delightful opportunities to chat with students I have been regrettably separated from for weeks. Most of you remembered to return to the chart to leave me feedback and a record of the progress we made together on your Hypotheses.
Most of you clearly enjoyed the experience and left Notes to indicate that conferences were helpful, usually enlightening, even entertaining. All in all, I’m awarding us all high grades for the exercise.
Altogether, I have now met with 28 of you for your Mandatory first-half conferences. That leaves almost of dozen of you who have not made or kept an appointment.
Conferences are required for several reasons. 1) They’re entertaining for you and for me. 2) Early guidance on your Hypothesis is the surest way to get your research project on track before it’s too late. 3) The class does not wait for students to catch up. A week from now, you’ll be sharing your first 5 Sources in your White Paper. Without a strong, narrow Hypothesis, gathering sources is a waste of your time.
I highly recommend you return to the Chart and make an appointment for FRI SEP 25.
If you’re REALLY LOST about this process, find the Mandatory Conferences link on the home page of the blog under Syllabus Plus.
The one sad side-effect of spending so much time chatting with my beloved students is that I have fallen briefly behind in Feedback Please requests. FP is still the quickest way to get me to provide you assistance on specific assignments, but I will need time to catch up on these responses, especially if a dozen students make requests for Conferences on Friday. Thursdays I am fully booked, so it will be until the weekend before I can get back to feedback.
Early Warnings about Hypotheses
Most of us have now chatted about your hypotheses, so this little section is directed at students who haven’t conferenced. For them, I offer some warnings about common Hypothesis warning signs.
A COMMON PROFESSOR OBJECTION
Your proposal for a hypothesis is risky, MyStudent, because OVERLY POPULAR topics like the one you propose pose three very real problems:
1. WORNOUT TOPIC. The arguments about them are so completely exhausted there is very little new another paper can add to the discourse.
2. PLAGIARISM RISK. The ready availability of research papers for sale create a very tempting situation for students who feel pressured to finish something original at the end of the semester.
3. RISK OF FAILURE. More than one of my students have failed the course by borrowing heavily from papers on marijuana legalization, violent video games, an end to abortion, capital punishment, and smart device addiction.
YOUR PROFESSOR’S GO-TO ADVICE
My approach to anyone interested in these broad topics is threefold.
1. I try strenuously to guide them away from the topic toward something fresh and untrodden.
2. If that fails, I help them craft a unique perspective on the topic that avoids most of what’s already been written and researched.
3. If that fails, I demand very strong, very early, and well-documented evidence of original research before the halfway point of the semester. Students who show they’re doing their own work before the end of the semester mitigate the appearance that they might be trying to copy their way to a finished product.
4. If those steps fail, so too, usually, does the student.
- Research Tips
- I Can’t Find Any Sources!
In-class Task (or Take-Home Task if we don’t have time in class)
- Good Citation Mechanics
- DUE TODAY IN CLASS or by 11:59 pm today
The White Paper Task
- White Paper First Draft
- 5 New Sources
- Link to sources in your White Paper
- Sketch the Bibliographic data
- Purposefully Summarize New Sources
- Use Research Tips to find New Sources at Google Search or Rowan’s Campbell Library Database