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Little Rant.. about essay writing

  1. Oct 29, 2016 #1
    So I recently checked online to find out I got a 69% I thought I had a passing grade on because I feel like I put a fair amount of work into it and also went to a tutor for it. My teacher tries to be hard and warns us to write using correct MLA format in our class or else she wouldn't read it, but instead decides to deduct huge chunks of points as if it were "nicely" justified. I strongly feel like I deserve a better grade, I understand that my teacher should expect us to know MLA without much review.

    I just don't understand how I am going to need MLA a lot going into a STEM field. Maybe some of you can inspire me to see the light in this situation. I really hate this class and my teacher and finding positivity is quite tough.
     
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  3. Oct 29, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Do I understand the complaint correctly? Your teacher asked for the assignment in a given format, you didn't use that format, but nevertheless feel you deserve a good grade? If so, I have a hard time generating much sympathy. And if you think that you won't have writing assignments in STEM that ask you to use a given format, you have another think coming.
     
  4. Oct 29, 2016 #3

    symbolipoint

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    You will need to tell us what MLA stands for. In any case, your teacher seems to require students to follow some kind of format and following that format is something important for some logical reason; therefore, failing to follow whatever this method or format is lowers your credit for the piece of work. This MLA thing might be a type standard for writing your assigned essays, so that proper credit for your essay depends on following this MLA.

    I can only attempt to compare your complaint to other formal, formatting & practices requirements for assignments in courses I myself have had.
    • Intro Computer Programming: We had to include table of variables, and flow diagrams; otherwise we received very little credit and our teacher would refuse to answer help-questions about the work. They were a big part of the learning and the teacher was a very busy person.
    • Physics-Mechanics: Nearly all work, including homeworks, tests, quizzes, required a format of identifying formulas needed, making figures and diagrams, giving variables to all numbers, writing the necessary equations to describe the problem, solving for the question asked entirely in symbols, and then substituting the given and assigned values to obtain the final numeric answer. If we did not do these things, then we usually received little or no credit; and in case we asked for help, we would get none. The teacher was trying to make sure we took the effort to seriously learn, and he was a very busy person.

    Much of this is about (1) Learning to communicate unambiguously, and (2) Following instructions, but is also about (3) learning to do reliable, and dependable work.
     
  5. Oct 29, 2016 #4
    Yeah I guess i didn't explain it very well. And yes you would have a hard time generating sympathy, but the issue for me is that most people in my class have issues with format and she kind of knows this but she only refers us to the book or a website instead of going over examples in class. I mean we have ourselves to blame because we the students are taking her class. But knowing I have writing assignments as a STEM major is motivating and was expected, because now I have some motivation to write.
     
  6. Oct 29, 2016 #5
    I long to join these classes haha.. In a couple semesters I will take my first physics course. woop!
     
  7. Oct 29, 2016 #6

    Mark44

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    I'm reasonably sure it's Modern Language Association.
     
  8. Oct 29, 2016 #7
    You should follow what kind of way your teacher wants you to acknowledge sources. In this case, it is MLA. Most of my assignments I've used APA. If you don't cite your sources, then you could be marked down for (or get summoned to explain) plagiarism.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  9. Oct 29, 2016 #8

    Choppy

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    Sometimes the details of the style aren't the point. If you go far enough in any STEM field, you'll have to start writing up papers and those will have to be in a very specific format. Unfortunately it seems like every journal has its own little idiosyncrasies, and sometimes failing to meet the specified format can be grounds for rejection, or at least cause delays in publication. So the point of such exercises is often to learn about the little formatting details. Whether the journal will require you to write out the names of all authors in the citation, or just the first author, is irrelevant - you learn that formatting author order is important. (And really formats can be coded or "templated" in these days so depending on how you're doing your essay, such things really only need to be figured out once.)

    If you honestly feel you deserve a better grade than you received, it might be worth discussing the matter with your professor. He or she will likely be able to offer more insight into specifics of the grading scheme than we can.
     
  10. Oct 29, 2016 #9

    russ_watters

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    So...you're in college and still using the "I'm never going to use this in the real world" excuse for not doing what the teacher requires of you? Really? Are you going to argue with your first boss about the value of your assignments there too?
     
  11. Oct 29, 2016 #10
    The reason why I'm arguing is because there is an argument to be found. My teacher hasn't really helped anyone with the concepts people in the class have issues with.

    The concepts aren't the problem. It is the teacher. And yes if I have a terrible boss I would argue with my boss
     
  12. Oct 30, 2016 #11

    symbolipoint

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    You need to check your thoughts or analyses more carefully here. The concepts are the problem, or the concepts are not the problem; if the situation is something inbetween, the explain it clearly. The concepts are or are not the problem, or the essay format is a problem - these are two different things.

    There are ways worth arguing with your boss and there are ways you should never argue with your boss. Presenting an intelligent discussion to support what you think to be done may win, and the boss could approve your decision or action. If you are arguing in any form of hostile way, you just make trouble for yourself. At your current phase of development, focus on following directions and asking questions to have a clear understanding, whether for concepts, or handling the MLA outlining practices.
     
  13. Oct 30, 2016 #12
    Can you please clarify what MLA is? If it is a way of showing your sources used for an assignment, then I am absolutely puzzled what you are arguing about. Clarification would be helpful.
     
  14. Oct 30, 2016 #13

    symbolipoint

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    Post #6. Modern Language Association
     
  15. Oct 30, 2016 #14

    russ_watters

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    No, there isn't. The teacher sets the assignments and the students do them. The primary thing you accomplish by challenging your teacher over something frivolous like this is to get on the teacher's bad side.
    Are we still talking about MLA formatting? If your teacher isn't teaching the material well, that's a totally different problem. Based on the OP though it sounds like you did know the material well enough to get a good grade if you'd have presented it well in the report.
    That's really stupid. You're going to need to learn how to pick your battles better if you want to be successful.
     
  16. Oct 30, 2016 #15

    russ_watters

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    MLA formatting is the standard writing style guidelines used by pretty much all schools/colleges in the US:
    https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/24/
    Whether one needs this specific format in the "real world" depends on what they are doing, but the exercise in proper formatting is a useful one whether you are using MLA or not.

    My first exercise in technical writing was in a college lab course. My classmates and I got crucified over our writing ability and gradually learned to give the professor what he wanted. Fast forward to the real world and the formatting isn't quite the same, but the issue is: my bosses have specific writing formats/styles they want and the proper course of action is to learn and adapt, not try to fight them over it.
     
  17. Oct 30, 2016 #16
  18. Oct 30, 2016 #17

    berkeman

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    So I read about this at Wikipedia, and looked around the MLA.org website, but wasn't able to easily understand what an "MLA style" would be for writing essays. Can someone provide a link? Thanks. :smile:
     
  19. Oct 30, 2016 #18
    Try russ' link - https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/24/
     
  20. Oct 30, 2016 #19

    berkeman

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  21. Oct 30, 2016 #20
    Seeing that many of you don't really know what MLA formatting is shows how useful the material I'm learning really is.

    And the material is the issue for the students, because it isn't really covered in class and only as a reading assignment for this particular semester. Most of the students in my class have a similar problem. I'm not the type of student to really complain about working hard, I'm just upset I have a teacher that doesn't know how to be helpful. I love working hard and feeling accomplished. I have a good GPA and I am getting good grades at the moment and I'm focused. This is my worst class partially because I haven't been exposed to a teacher like my current one before and was unprepared for her lack of experience.

    I know my posts haven't been clear and might have sounded contradicting but I was ranting.
     
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