Capital Punishment

An excellent essay at From The Grand Stand discusses the difference between a person and their crime. The author wrote a great discussion on why first degree murder gets capital punishment, and should, after a change in the life of the person who committed the crime.

My students said they didn’t find much for capital punishment.

Students and My Blog

One of my students is writing a research paper and has not found the kind of information he needs for one point. I’ve blogged about the point and have quite a long and useful post on the topic.

We talk about all kinds of things in class. One of them has been the medical system here and abroad. We’ve discussed slippery slopes as arguments. They’re doing research papers.

One student asked about the euthanization of children up to the age of 12 and the right to die doctors in the Netherlands who can prescribe you death without telling you. He said he talked to friends and they said it was bogus. He might be right. But did anyone look it up on the net? You know, I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong. But when they just say it’s bogus, that’s the kind of thinking I want them to avoid in their papers. (And their lives.)

I looked it up.

n the Netherlands, Groningen University Hospital has decided its doctors will euthanize children under the age of 12, if doctors believe their suffering is intolerable or if they have an incurable illness.

from Weekly Standard

The International Task Force’s Euthanasia in the Netherlands has a long list of sites and articles.

If you don’t think it’s true that they can euthanize their patients without permission, read this article which describes a doctor having done just that, being convicted of murder, and getting NO PENALTY at all.

Chron watch says this:

This past year, it was quietly announced that Holland had approved euthanasia for children under twelve. This news alone was unsettling, but then last month came the disturbing disclosure that not only had euthanasia been approved for infants, but had in fact been practiced by doctors for some time. In other words, first adults and now children and infants are slowly being eliminated in the name of “compassion.”

The practice has been approved for terminally-ill infants, or those whose suffering is deemed intolerable. Presumably, this includes babies that are premature, developmentally disabled, or physically deformed.

If you’re more into studies, how about this one?

The studies make a distinction between two forms of euthanasia: euthanasia — the intentional killing of a patient by the direct intervention of a physician at the patient’s explicit request, and ending life without the explicit request of the patient — the intentional killing of a patient by the direct intervention of a physician without the patient’s explicit request. An analysis of deaths in both categories reveals that 31 percent of cases in 1990, and 22.5 percent in 1995 involved patients who did not give their explicit consent to be killed.

from www.family.org though the study quoted is from here:
2P. J. van der Maas, J.J.M. van Delden and L. Pijenborg, Euthanasia and other Medical Decisions Concerning the End of Life: An Investigation Performed Upon Request of the Commission of Inquiry into the Medical Practice Concerning Euthanasia, (Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers, 1992) p. 178-179, 181-182; P.J. van der Maas, G. van der Wal, I. Haverkate, C.L.M et al.,(1996). Euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and other medical practices involving the end of life in the Netherlands, 1990-1995. New England Journal of Medicine, 335, p. 1700-1701

Scary stuff. Euthanasia, students, blogs… And the incredibly mature reaction of “That’s bogus” without actually looking anything up. (Not my student. His friends.)

For Writing Students Everywhere

Live Science has an article on simple writing making folks look smart.

Long words used needlessly along with complicated font styles — two tactics employed routinely by students trying to pad their work — are perceived as coming from less intelligent writers.

Or, to put it simply: Short words and classic fonts make you look smart.

Daniel Oppenheimer at Princeton University conducted five experiments manipulating the complexity of vocabulary or font style. Samples included graduate school applications, sociology dissertation abstracts, and translations of a work by Descartes.

Times New Roman, the default font for Internet text and writing programs like Microsoft Word, was contrasted by the italicized Juice font …
The simple writing done in the easy-to-read font tended to be rated as coming from a more intelligent author than the more complex drafts.

“Anything that makes a text hard to read and understand, such as unnecessarily long words or complicated fonts, will lower readers’ evaluations of the text and its author,” Oppenheimer said.

He added, though, that the study does not suggest long words are inherently bad, but only that using them needlessly is a problem. So why do so many people do it?

“The continuing popularity amongst students of using big words and attractive font styles may be due to the fact that they may not realize these techniques could backfire,” Oppenheimer said. “One thing seems certain: write as simply and plainly as possible and it’s more likely you’ll be thought of as intelligent.”

Yes, the teacher will notice that you are padding your papers. I tell my students this all the time. Most of the time they listen. I wonder if they think about it when they are writing papers for other teachers.

Also, note that the big words are used needlessly. If you know what they mean and are using them correctly, then I don’t have a problem with them. But there needs to be a reason to use them. Are you using them because you’ve used the simpler terms six times and you need a change of pace? Good for you. Are you using them to prove you know how to use them? I probably already know that.

Note: The article doesn’t say who the people were responding to the style changes. Were they teachers? Or were they students? Were they readers for a conference? Because I can tell you of some conferences where you need to have long words used. Then it’s not needless; it’s the only way to get in.

Real World Fallacies

Tonight in my English class I was discussing fallacies that are common in argument. I informed the students that these fallacies were not simply problems in freshmen research papers.

“post hoc, ergo procter hoc” is the belief that something coming before is the cause of what comes after. Therefore we have the research study in which the US’s religiousity is blamed for its violence.

The “ad hominem” is an attack on the person as an argument. I referenced the “BushHitler” meme.

Then there was the “either/or” fallacy, where an argument gives two options as the only options. Either you accept Miers as a Supreme Court Justice nominee or you’re sexist. That wasn’t quite what Mrs. Bush said, but many people took it that way. Including Michelle Malkin.

Possible Assignment: Freshman Comp

Preparation for school: Go read Bright Mystery and explain to me how these five points would translate to Freshman English. (See update.)

I only received four papers, though three other students said they did it and just didn’t know they were supposed to turn it in. I explained that Bright Mystery is a math teacher at a college. I still got a “this blog was not what I was expecting.” I don’t know what he was expecting, so I can’t enlighten you.

Grammar: Go read this list of native mangling of English and tell me what is wrong with one in each topic.

Note: Bright Mystery is disappearing. Here is the post:

Five things for Calculus students, revisited

A while back I asked everyone to give a list of five things that they would like incoming calculus students to know — stuff they know now that they wished they’d known then. Lots of good responses. I have boiled them all down into the following list, which I’m going to give to my calculus classes tomorrow. The text in bold will go on an overhead; all the other stuff will be verbal embellishments.

1.Consistent, daily preparation is essential. In 10 years of teaching college calculus at liberal arts colleges, top-tier research universities, and in private tutoring, one thing has emerged that is common to my experience: The single biggest factor in whether a student gets something out of a college-level calculus class is how consistent they are in studying and practicing from day to day. Their prior experience with math makes no real difference. How well they study the night before the test makes no difference. Whether they have a tutor makes no difference. Even the level of raw mathematical skill doesn’t make much of a difference. It really is just a matter of working with this stuff every day, for an hour or two or more if you need it. You’re not guaranteed an “A” or “B” in the course if you study consistently — it takes performance to do that — but you are guaranteed NOT to get those grades if you DON’T. [Note for math teachers reading this: How well students remember their prior math classes and how fluent they are with the prerequisite material comes in a close second.]

2.You are responsible for your own learning. The biggest difference between college and high school — both in classes and elsewhere — is that you are now placed in a position of responsibility. You will need to rely on personal discipline where before you had people forcing you to do things. This is a major change and a lot of students end up flunking out of school because they never really try to adapt to it. Here, it will mean that you’ll need to find your own times to work on the class, deny yourself certain “fun” things like TV and video games if you need to work, and so on. The best thing you can do for yourself is to set the tone NOW on the first day of your college career that you will be a disciplined, productive student — just as much as you are a disciplined, productive football player or employee or what have you.

3. College classes are not spectator sports. Being responsible for your own learning means that you can’t expect to gain a full understanding of the material just by attending class. You have to get your hands dirty; form study groups to get your hands even dirtier; keep working at a problem when it becomes difficult; try things out even when they don’t work; do things that aren’t graded; and take initiative to talk to the professor about difficulties. This is why we say you really need two hours outside of class for every hour inside.

4.College expectations are different from many high schools’ expectations. Your education is no longer all about passing a test. You’ve done that. Now we’re going to focus your education on learning how to think, how to reason, how not to get fooled by a faulty argument, how to see the structure and beauty in the created world, and producing quality work that you can be proud of and which will prepare you to live the rest of your life. Which also is not about passing a test. So from here on out, put aside all notions about needing to score high on tests and score lots of points. You need to make good grades but not at the expense of the big picture of “higher” education.

5.Enjoy the ride – learning is fun. Avoiding learning is not fun. If you throw yourself into the learning process and abandon yourself to curiosity and interest in new things, you’ll have a lot more fun in college than if you view your classes as hurdles or burdens. College becomes a miserable experience when you start to take your primary focus off of what you are learning and fragmenting it among everything else. Take a lesson from my 20-month old daughter, who takes absolute pleasure in learning anything. We were all in that place once — let’s all go back there.

Professor and Research Papers

I teach at a community college. The students are writing their research papers now. The limit on the topic was that it had to be controversial. The students had to be able to find three solid arguments both for and against the side they agreed with to write on. That was the limit on the topic.

I was very interested/annoyed/irritated to read about this assignment in a blog. Sorry, it was last week and I don’t remember which one I read about it in. (Note: This page still goes to the assignment but no longer lists the topics you can and cannnot cover. So that isn’t going to explain to you what the problem is.)

I went and read the teacher’s website posting of the assignment. I think it is interesting that he announces academic freedom, but doesn’t allow freedom of speech in his classroom. In fact, he clearly suppresses it.

This is a quote from his site. Please note, that unlike the one he complained about earlier, this is within the acceptable length for quoting of copyrighted material. (Which I have never found even in academic circles to include syllabi and assignments.)

“Topics on which there is, in my opinion, no other side apart from chauvinistic, religious, or bigoted opinions and pseudo-science (for example, female circumcision, prayer in public schools, same-sex marriage, the so-called faith-based initiative, abortion, hate crime laws, the existence of the Holocaust, and so-called creationism).”

So if you believe in prayer in schools, or don’t perhaps?, faith based initiatives, or the Holocaust, you can’t write on them. But you can write on how stupid Bush is and whether or not the Loch Ness monster exists. This teacher believes there are two sides to argue for Loch Ness monster, but not two sides on the Holocaust or hate crime laws. What does that tell you about his politics?

First, it tells you his politics are strong. Then it tells you they are far left. (Look at the first sentence for number 46 if you think I’m not telling the truth.) Then it tells you that if you are right wing, you’re wrong. He won’t even let you argue your view in an argument paper. Or study something you’re not sure about.

On the flip side, I require my students to write on both sides of the argument they are researching. They have to start with the one they disagree with. The reason for that is that it helps them realize the other side does have legitimate and cogent arguments. It also shows them possible holes in their own arguments. I think maybe this teacher needs to write one of my research papers himself.

Volokh is the original site, though an updated archive on the topic, that was pointed to on the blog I read. I might could find that, then. No, because I didn’t go to V- but to the other. Nope. I couldn’t figure out who pointed me in this direction.

Update: Despite the fact that no one I know considers their syllabi copyrighted, apparently they are. Here’s a post on the practice of fisking which is selecting large sections of a copyrighted piece in order to argue with it.

Update again: Since his syllabus isn’t up anymore, I guess I’m not quoting it. I am quoting those who quoted it. Here are some of the other choices of topics:

2. “Recreational” Drugs (legalization of, medicinal use of; you must know the current legal status of these issues at both the state and federal levels). For marijuana, probably the best approach is to narrow your topic to medicinal use. See Eric Bailey’s “Key Court Victories Boost Medical Marijuana Movement,” Los Angeles Times, 23 December 2003: B1+. Even the usually conservative Press-Telegram is calling for a “carefully regulated system of legalization and high taxation” of drugs (editorial, “Gangs and Prohibitions,” 3 October 2004: A20).

3. Energy (nuclear, solar, fossil, synthetic fuels, etc.). A related topic is Dick Cheney’s secret conference on energy policy. Why hasn’t the administration revealed who participated and should it reveal this information? Also important is the fact that, as Kevin Phillips writes, “four generations of the [Bush] dynasty have chased [oil] profits through cozy ties with Mideast leaders, spinning webs of conflicts of interest” (Los Angeles Times, 11 January 2004: M1+).

8. The Economy (tax cuts, the military budget, education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, etc.). Under President Clinton, the Federal Government had a handle on the national debt. Now the Bush administration is passing that debt on to the post-baby-boom generation. See Ronald Brownstein’s column, “Our Children Will Pay the Bill for Bush’s Budget,” Los Angeles Times, 10 February 2003: A10.

12. Capital Punishment (pro or con; one way to limit the topic would be to argue whether or not there should be a moratorium on executions until they can be proved to be fair to all concerned, if that’s possible). See the bipartisan web site: The Constitution Project on this issue. See also Henry Weinstein’s article, “Death Penalty Study Suggests Errors,” in the Los Angeles Times (11 February 2002: A13, and Eric Slater’s “Illinois Governor Commutes All Death Row Cases,” in the Los Angeles Times (12 January 2003: A1+; in the same edition of the Times, see Henry Weinstein’s “Move Will Intensify Debate on Executions”: A1+ and Eric Slater’s “Unlikely Candidate for Death Penalty Reformer”: A28). According to Amnesty International, in 2002 the United States had the third highest rate of executions after China and Iran (“China Tops World List of Executions,” Los Angeles Times, 13 April 2003: A33).

17. The Environment (insecticides, off-shore drilling, protecting the forests, clean-air laws, protecting pristine land in Alaska from oil drilling). See Elizabeth Shogren’s, “States, White House at Odds on Environment,” Los Angeles Times, 29 December 2002, A23. And see Kenneth R. Weiss’s “Seas Being Stripped of Big Fish, Study Finds,” Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2003: A1+. This would be a good research paper topic as well.

21. Affirmative Action. Be sure to define the term and be aware of its current status in California. See the cover stories for Newsweek, 27 January 2003, the Los Angeles Times, “State Finds Itself Hemmed In,” 24 June 2003 (A1+), by Stuart Silverstein, Peter Hong, and Rebecca Trounson, and “Court Affirms Use of Race in University Admissions,” by David G. Savage, in the same issue of the Times.

27. Gun control (should a license, including a card with a picture similar to a driver’s license, be required of gun owners? should handguns be banned? These are only two narrowed gun control topics; “gun control” itself is far too broad as a topic). See Aparna Kumar’s “More Guns in Citizens’ Hands Can Worsen Crime, Study Says” (Los Angeles Times, 23 January 2003: A15). Also, for an especially good opinion column (backed by facts), read Jennifer Price’s “Gun Lobby’s Perfect Aim,” Los Angeles Times (9 February 2003: M1+). A third topic is ballistic fingerprinting: see Jonathan Alter’s “Pull the Trigger On Fingerprints,” Newsweek (28 October 2002: 41).

34. Birth Control: Should the so-called “morning-after” contraceptive pills (pills that prevent fertilized eggs from implantation) be more readily available to all, whether they can afford them or not and regardless of age? Of course, in your paper you would need to state your position and support it while acknowledging the opposing position. (You cannot argue that such pills amount to an abortion; I do not accept abortion as a topic. See below.)

52. What evidence do we have that Mr. Bush and his cronies lied to the American people and the world in promoting the war with Iraq? Do you agree that America has lost its “moral authority” in the world because of this immoral war? See “Another Casualty of War: American Moral Authority,” by Rami G. Khouri, in the Los Angeles Times, 9 October 2003: B17. See also, “Iraq War Questions Gain Momentum,” by Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times, 30 January 2004: A1+, and John Barry and Mark Hosenball’s “What Went Wrong,” the cover story for Newsweek, 9 February 2004: 24-31. Another article from the Los Angeles Times, Bob Drogin and Greg Miller’s “CIA Chief Saw No Imminent Threat in Iraq” (6 February 2004: A6+), might be useful. Other articles worth reading are Peter Singer’s “Bush’s Meandering Moral Compass,” Los Angeles Times, 26 March 2004: B13 and Bob Drogin and Greg Miller’s “Iraq’s Illicit Weapons Gone Since Early ’90s, CIA Says,” Los Angeles Times, 7 October 2004: A1+.

from Clayton Cramer’s blog

Energy… A related topic is Dick Cheney’s secret conference on energy policy. Why hasn’t the administration revealed who participated and should it reveal this information? Also important is the fact that, as Kevin Phillips writes, “four generations of the [Bush] dynasty have chased [oil] profits through cozy ties with Mideast leaders, spinning webs of conflicts of interest”…

The Economy… Under President Clinton, the Federal Government had a handle on the national debt. Now the Bush administration is passing that debt on to the post-baby-boom generation…

Birth Control: Should the so-called “morning-after” contraceptive pills (pills that prevent fertilized eggs from implantation) be more readily available to all, whether they can afford them or not and regardless of age? Of course, in your paper you would need to state your position and support it while acknowledging the opposing position. (You cannot argue that such pills amount to an abortion…).

Should Justice Sandra Day O’Connor have been impeached for her partisan, political actions in the Bush v. Gore case of December 2000 (she is reported to have expressed a desire to retire but would do so only if a Republican were president…)? What about Justice Scalia, whose son worked for the law firm of the lawyer who argued for Bush before the Supreme Court, or Justice Thomas, whose wife was part of an organization selecting people to work in a potential Bush administration?

George W. Bush’s time in the National Guard presents important questions about the character of a man who has sent hundreds of Americans to their deaths in war and killed and maimed untold thousands of others…

Breaking a campaign promise, Bush has reversed rules to limit industrial carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere…Do you agree or disagree with this decision?

Is it right for the Bush Administration to use the War on Terrorism for political or commercial purposes?…

What role does George W. Bush have in the Enron scandal? How should the various Congressional investigation (sic) proceed? Should any new laws be passed? Should all those who have received contributions from Enron recess themselves or only those who received a certain amount of money…

It is no secret that the Bush administration and many Republicans have taken steps to undo the progress in environmental protection made before they took office. Now that they control the presidency and the Congress, they have better opportunities to carry out their agenda…

Civil Liberties: The Bush administration has used the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 to erode the civil rights of citizens and non-citizens alike… What can be done to stop this erosion of liberties or can you logically defend it?…

Should there be stricter laws against a woman harming her potential child through smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, or using other drugs while pregnant?…

What evidence do we have that Mr. Bush and his cronies lied to the American people and the world in promoting the war with Iraq? Do you agree that America has lost its “moral authority” in the world because of this immoral war?…

Although George W. Bush said he would support the national continuation of the ban on assault weapons, he did nothing to urge Congress to pass it…

from Mike Adams

Update (8/6/08): I want to use this story in my discussion of “Looking at Both Sides of the Issue” for TYCASW, assuming I get to read it.

History/Civics/Writing Assignment

FIRE has a November 20, 2003 post about freedoms in the amendments. It notes that most students do not know what the amendments protect.

The Bill of Rights only deals with the first ten amendments. All these were added in 1789.

What if I had the students look up the Bill of Rights. They would have to write a sentence or two on their own to say what the amendment actually says is a right. Then I could have them look up an internet post on each topic and comment on what it said.

Nah. That’s too hard. I’d spend weeks at the computer reading the stuff.

What if I had them turn in the posts they read?

Real-World Applications of the Long Report, pt. 4

Realistic frustrations

These real problems brought into the classroom have led the students to experience some of the frustrations our “clients” have felt: the inadequacy of available data, lack of expertise in composing questionnaires, receiving minimal response to those questionnaires, finding they have proposed unworkable solutions, and having to be more creative in their search for data and solutions.

Writing as learning evidence

These frustrations have provided evidence for Applebee’s theory of writing as learning because the structure has required explicitness and the medium is permanent and the students have used their reports to discuss alternative methodology and solutions. They have often found creative innovations which have made for interesting and useful final recommendations. In writing these reports the students have discovered that the formats they have learned have real business uses.

Ideas for involving the business community

There are many ways of involving the community in the business writing class. Presenting the principles of various types of business writing in such a way that the substance is a real business writing issue and as important as the form has been very successful. The use of this idea in the long report sequence has already been discussed. It is equally effective for other types of business writing.

Memos outlining policies of gender neutral language, after a presentation of the idea by a business leader, involve the students in business writing issues as well as business writing formats.
Complaint letters involving real situations which have frustrated the students are useful. When the final version and a copy are turned in, the students also present a stamped addressed envelope. Then the letters are mailed by the professor. Often students will bring in the responses they receive later in the semester. This gives everyone, including the students who have not received a response, the knowledge that letters do make a difference.

Good news letters can be written as compliments for good service received. Like the complaint letters, these letters can be mailed by the professor and are often replied to by the management.

Job search information to be used in the writing of resumes and application letters can be garnered from interviews with a person in the same field and/or at the same company after information from printed materials has been exhausted. This interview allows the student to get a better idea of the area she is entering and it also publicizes the concern of the university in the business community.

Interview thank you letters can be written.

Through these formats, which we teach in business writing classes, we can be involved meeting community needs and involve the community in meeting the needs of our students.

Problems and responses in the long report sequence

PROBLEM: Sophomores with insufficient work experience to complete the long report sequence.
RESPONSE: Create class projects which do not presume work experience.

PROBLEM: Unrealistic expectations in first versions of proposals.
RESPONSE: Peer editing allowed the students to revision for themselves using other students’ goals as models.

PROBLEM: Group unable to reach competitor for price lists.
RESPONSE: Contacted competitors in demographically similar towns.

PROBLEM: Ethical question of asking for price lists for a reason other than possible use of the service.
RESPONSE: Arranged for contact person to be someone who did plan on using a wedding videography service.

PROBLEM: Unrealistic expectations in first versions of proposals.
RESPONSE: Peer editing allowed the students to revision for themselves using other students’ goals as models.

PROBLEM: Groups in two different classes working on same aspect of the project. Potential for duplication.
RESPONSE: On their own groups initiated different approaches.

PROBLEM: Project determined unprofitable while in the progress report stage.
RESPONSE: Group came up with radically different possibility for the service, though not for the client.

PROBLEM: Low return rate for questionnaires.
RESPONSE: Noted. Conjectured possible reason: volatility.

Work Cited

Applebee, Arthur N. “Writing and Reasoning.” Review of Educational Research 54 (4):577-96.

Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Real-world Applications of the Long Report, pt. 3

This paper was presented to CCCC in 1990.

Revision moves students towards realistic goals

Once the students identified areas of interest, they formed groups in which to work and began writing their formal proposals. Again the expectations expressed in the proposals covered the continuum from pessimistic to unrealistically idealistic. And, again, the peer editing of the first version encouraged a revisioning towards realistic goals.

Possible concerns

Since two classes were working on the same project, and yet each class was a self-contained unit, some of the groups were dealing with the same subject matter. At the beginning, I was apprehensive about this in that I was afraid that they would be duplicating each other’s work and possibly would alienate the business community in which they were doing their research. This did not turn out to be a problem.

Proposed different approaches

Each one of the groups proposed and followed different approaches to their portion of the project. One example of this is what happened in the advertising groups. One group dealt solely with ad agencies in town. The other group assumed a much smaller, and more realistic, budget based on library research they completed during the proposal and predicated their study on in-house advertising. They contacted the local newspapers and radio stations about copy and costs. In their progress report this group mentioned that they looked to the most successful competitor’s advertising for guidance.

Final reports

The final reports were very instructive and provided our clients with sufficient information to enable them to decide that such a project would not be profitable for them. One group, which had chosen to research location ideas, came to this conclusion about the time of the second progress report and wrote that the possibilities they were dealing with would not be feasible and that, therefore, they were looking into other alternatives.

I thought that at this point they were buying themselves trouble and that they would be better off simply detailing their findings and the recommendation that the business not be established in their final report. However, I did not discourage them.

Their final report would not have been of much use to the clients so we did not furnish them with a copy of it. But the contents excited the entire class. This group had discovered that if students were the proprietors of this business that they could operate the business on campus through the campus mail and minimize overhead costs. Three members of the class decided that this idea would work and got together to go about setting up such a service.

Community involvement

The news of these studies have spread through the community. I have had other people call to suggest their project for the long report sequence or to request information on such a topic as advertising budgets for small in-home businesses.

The students in another class were asked to become more involved in the university community by investigating which kinds of resumes and application letters were most appropriate for certain majors. The only stipulations were that no business majors could be selected and no information could be solicited from Fortune 500 companies since these are the standards upon which many business writing courses are set up.

One group decided to work on the resumes and application letters for those seeking employment in video and film production. They had two reasons for choosing this field. The first was that they knew where to get a list of addresses of companies who hired in this area. The second was that the only member of the group who did not already have a job upon graduation wanted to work in this area. Expediency and necessity made this a rational choice.

This group had the most frustrating experience with the project in that only 25% of their questionnaires were answered and an additional 20% were returned by the post office. The students were aware that the low return rate was problematic, but they could do nothing to change it. They simply mentioned the low response level and conjectured that the volatility of the video and film industry might account for it.

Based on the responses they did receive, the students made the recommendation that “resumes should stress previous work experience, including dates of jobs held, titles, and duties, over educational factors like major, name of college, and date of college graduation.” They also recommended that resumes should be sent with the application letters and that these letters should emphasize an understanding of the basic job requirements. The reasons why employers preferred these seemed clear to the group. Video and film production are not common majors and therefore work experience is a much better indicator of ability in these fields.

To be continued…