The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

RSS feeds: v0.91; v1.0 (RDF); v2.0; Atom.

Previous entry. Next entry.

1:09pm on Tuesday, 28th March, 2006:



I'm marking assignments today.

This year, I gave my EE114 students an essay-style assignment, on the grounds that in previous years the programming assignments I'd given had not been, er, well received. The assignment consists of writing a partial design document for a computer game of their own choosing or their own invention. No programming is involved, the assignment is keyed to my weekly lectures so they can write it piecemeal; what can go wrong?


With programs, if you make a syntax error the complier complains and you can't run your program until you fix it. With essays, there is no compiler; you can write whatever you believe passes for English and carry on regardless. This isn't a lot of fun for the poor soul who has to read it, though, ie. me. I spend anything between 45 and 90 minutes on each assignment (I only managed 2 in 3 hours this morning) and being subjected to wave after wave of poor spelling, grammar and punctuation is not pleasant.

My students seem to fall into four categories:

  1. Those who can spell. There aren't many of these at all.
  2. Those who can't spell, but who use spell-checkers. There are lots of these, and their writings are peppered with whether/weather, there/their, rogue/rouge, ... Punctuation remains sporadic.
  3. Those who can't spell and don't bother with spell-checkers. They'll spell the same word differently in adjacent sentences, and punctuation is optional. You'd think these were rare, but they're not.
  4. The madly bizarre. Not only is the syntax all cockeyed, but so is the semantics. This is mainly the preserve of overseas students for whom English is their nth language (where n > 1), the use of which they entirely mastered for precisely one day — the one they sat the English language test they needed to pass in order to get on the course. The remainder are students who left it so late to begin the assignment that they didn't have chance to read what they were writing as they were writing it, let alone afterwards.

Doubtless some of these students have pieces of paper saying they're dyslexic, but because the assignment is marked blind I don't know who they are. Thus, I have to treat them all as if they were dyslexic.

Maybe next year I'll just give my EE114 lot a picture to colour in...

PS: When I typed "assignment" into QBlog's Google-managed search facility, I was helpfully given three sponsored links to companies which will write assignments for you. "Custom Assignment by UK Writers. First-class standard guaranteed"; "UK University Quality 75%+ Prices from £9.99, 24/7 Support"; "Custom Assignment By UK Writers. 1st Class Level Standard Guaranteed". Damned RMTers get everywhere...

Latest entries.

Archived entries.

About this blog.

Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).