The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Don't Choke

Posted by Seeking Solace |

I just realized that I may have bitten off more than I can chew. And, if I am not careful, I may choke.

So here's the deal. I gave my student's their research project which is a short paper and a presentation. Shouldn't be a problem, except for the usual crapola that comes with giving students a research project.


  • The course runs six weeks and I have 2 1/2 weeks left.
  • Within that time, I still have to cover what in the syllabus.
  • Only 3 of my students out of 30 know what APA is and/or how to use it.
  • The semester end on December 23rd.

On top of that...

  • Husband and I are traveling to Hometown for the holiday which has it's own stress and anxiety. We plan to leave as soon as I get off of work on the 23rd.
  • The holidays suck the life out me.


If I had started teaching this course at the traditional beginning of the semester, this would not be an issue. My students would have started working on this project at Week 3. I always have a library lecture and an citation lecture built into the syllabus. Plus, the due date would have been at the beginning of December, so that the only thing I would have to grade is their last exam.

My thought is that I could change the written portion of the project from a paper to an outline. That way, I would have some idea where they got their information. But that doesn't completely solve the citation issue...or does it? Would they have to provide a reference page for an outline? Or is there something else I could do????

My other thought is that I am underestimating my students. But, my gut says otherwise. This would be too much for them, especially in such a short period of time. The previous instructor did require a paper, which was about 5 to 7 pages in APA format. I have no idea whether those students knew APA or not. I am not required to give them a "written project". I am only required to have them complete a project of some sort.

I don't know why this has been so hard for me. My only guess is that I have been thrown out of my comfort zone with the time restraints for this course and the restrictions in the syllabus. I am just not used to it. I am going to have a lot to write about when I do my course autopsy at the end of this semester.

But for now....a little help and encouragement would do just fine.


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Is the idea that they present the paper material? If so, the outline is a good idea. They'll still have to give you sources, but you'll have structure for their presentation. If you want to make it easier for them, make something like a worksheet they can fill in -- the basic information in citations is pretty standard. Author, date, publication info and the pages used... They could attach it to their outline.

The other thing to remember is that they don't generally come back for their final papers (at least mine rarely do), so they are pretty fast to read. I just read, make a couple of comments about the degree to which they fulfilled the assignment, write a grade on it -- and I'm done.

Shell said...

I have a couple of ideas:

1. Changing the paper to an outline of ideas and require an Annotated Bibliography if you really just need to establish that they can research and cite.
2. Limit the types of sources they use and give them specific examples.
3. Focus the library/research instruction on online resources only and use the library materials to help prep them.
4. Hand out your lecture materials and do a multiple choice scantron quiz to induce studying and ease your grading.
5. Have a draft due date for the Ann. List and pre-grade which would make the second round go a lot more quickly. Consider having them turn the draft in too for comparison.

ITPF's right about the grading aspect, too, and that should help speed that process.

PS I don't think this is you biting off more than you can chew or being outside of your comfort zone. These due dates so close to Christmas are a *joke*. Anyone would be wigged out by this time frame.

Seeking Solace said...

Thans for the advice.

One of the Intro to Computers instructors who has my students suggrstedva colabrative teaching effort where she would use my poject to help the students with online research, citating docs in Word 207 and other stuff. I think this might a great idea. Plus, maybe I could use the experience for a case study or journal article.

Sherlock said...

Here's what I do:
1. they research a topic and create an annotated bib

2. they write an outline (they must include the exact text that will be on each slide in the powerpoint presentation). On each slide they must cite the sources of the info included on the slide.

3. they create the presentation. I require a minimum of 15 slides plus a title and reference slide. Each slide must have a graphic from the ppt program (no images from online).

It's quick and easy to grade. The research presentation is worth X number of points with the research (annotated bib) counting half and the outline and powerpoint each counting 1/4.

My classes are online so students don't have to actually give a presentation to the class. That takes a LOT of class time. If you can't spare the class time in a short 6-wk session then have them post their presentations somewhere online (I assume your college has access to an online course site where instructors can post syllabi, course info, even discussions, etc.). Set up a forum and have students post presentations and require them to comment on at least two classmates' prsentations by a certain date (those responses will count in their grade).

Then you don't waste time with in-class presentations but the students will still learn from viewing others' information.

I wrote this really fast -- hope it made sense!

rented life said...

Sent you an e-mail.

TiredProf said...

Everyone beat me to it: an outline and annotated bibliography are what I'd recommend. And collect a draft of both--I do most of my "grading" there and have much less to do on the final papers, as I catch most of the big stuff in the draft.