Posts Tagged ‘homework’

Writing Papers

I understand the majority of assignments in college. I do physics assignments to practice the equations/manipulations and learn to apply them to situations that don’t look precisely like the given examples or I’m missing variables. I do research papers to learn to do research, connect the ideas, and to find the use of the subject outside of lecture. Typically those assignments also have the added challenge of choosing a topic and finding pertinent, reliable resources. Plus, the professor gets to read a huge variety of papers from students.

Here are the ones I don’t always understand. In one of my classes we have weekly essays due. The prompt is incredibly specific, usually just one or two questions, and the resources are required reading[s] for the week. Not only does this block in the students, get us off the hook of finding references, or even really making connections. These assignments essentially require us to summarize a 15-20 page reading assignment. Occasionally we summarize 2-3 reading assignments about slightly different facets of the same topic. Here is this week’s prompt:

What does Helena Pycior mean by Marie Curie’s “’anti-natural’ path”? Does the case of Marie Curie illustrate any important lessons about the broader history of women in science in the early twentieth-century, or was her case simply too unusual to mean anything for other women?

Does she even find these at all interesting to read? Surely having thirty students writing some sort of summary of an article means that at most you will find 5-6 recurring themes. What’s the point? Why do I waste every Wednesday night skimming these readings and making a summary that fits on one page, single spaced, twelve-point font?

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