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11:39am on Saturday, 14th April, 2012:
Yesterday, I finally managed to complete marking the 38 assignments handed in for CE317. As the students will note from the timestamps on the comments (should they choose to look), it took an average of about an hour per assignment to mark.
The assignment concerned asking students to write a story to fit the formula of the Hero's Journey. It's like programming, except with words instead of code. I was hoping that this would mean it should be fine for the students who managed to make it to the final year of a Computer Science degree without being able to program (of whom I have several), but experience with having run it in previous years shows this not always to be the case. If they can't program because they're scared of code, it helps; if they can't program because they don't think in terms of procedure, it doesn't.
I appear to have taught that the Hero's Journey is called the Hero's Journal and consists of anything between 14 and 18 steps. These have names like the Road of Trails and the Ultimate Boom. The first three steps all serve exactly the same purpose, which is to give the protagonist the very object they are going into the Other World (which is identical to the mundane world) to obtain. The steps all contain exactly the same amount of action, therefore the climax comes at the second-from-last step. Oh, and the protagonist is the hero right at the start, rather than as a result of completing their Hero's Journey.
During the course of this, I learned that there were photographs in medieval times, that you could get a copy of The Lord of the Rings from a library two years before it was purchased and that 1939 was the mid-point of World War Two. I also found that oxymorons are alive and well ("quickly slowed", "small pint") and that one student still hasn't learned how to spell the word lose. I quite liked the idea that one student had of a Sacred Groove, but it turned out to be a bunch of trees.
That said, some students did exceptionally well and really seemed to understand what the Hero's Journey is about. They were probably the ones who attended the classes. Even so, the students who slapped something into a word processor two hours before the deadline didn't do all that badly. I could get some flak for over-marking, but because I commented everything as I went along I can actually justify what I awarded. Besides, no-one is going to spend 38 hours reading through them all second-marking...
Now I just have to mark the 26 CE217 assignments that were handed in. I was supposed to have marked them by last week, according to the University's guidelines, not that that was ever going to happen. These will take me 90 minutes each, unless I leave low amount of feedback.
So, looks like I shan't be getting a very high rating this time round in the Student Assessment of Courses exercise...
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