Student Research Paper Writing

This is the kind of thing teachers hate. No, it’s not the snow driving. Although probably most of us hate that too. And it’s not the Christmas is for kids truth and the scary relatives with too much alcohol.

It’s the “I am off to write a big scary paper on Parkinson’s disease due tomorrow, that I have not started.” That’s what drives teachers crazy. (That’s the explanation for low wages. We’ve all lost our minds.)

One of my students said he stayed up till 1 am writing his paper this morning because it was due today. It wasn’t. So he got to turn it in early and I marked it up and handed it back to him. One paragraph needed a lot of work, but overall it was very good. A solid B at least.

I try to force my students to at least work on the paper as we go. First, they have to turn in their sources. Then they have to turn in their notes. Then they have to turn in a completed outline and works cited. Though they don’t have to write the paper exactly as the outline, I explain that the outline, when done correctly, will help them know what parts of their paper they need to either beef up or trim down. And I offer a pre-grading read and mark up of their papers if they get them done two class periods before they are due.

I build in as much get it done as we go as I can and I reward those who do it early with help.

Some of them still turn it in the week after it is due, but I can’t help that. I’m not writing the papers for them. Though I do brainstorm with them, suggest websites when their papers are weak, and offer options when they’re stuck. But no, I’m not writing them. I hope they are, though.

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