Tag: Research Paper

Assignment explanations gone wrong

Assignment explanations gone wrong

I’m not usually one to outright complain about a professor’s style of teaching. I tend to just brute force my way through a class if there’s some element I don’t enjoy.

Now, that might be a surprise for those of you who remember various complaints about my Psychology professors last semester.

Well… Apparently I’ve just had a terrible track record with the Psychology department.

Because my complaint for the day happens to come from my Cognitive Psych class.

Let’s set the scene.

After finishing our lecture on Chapter 2, she decided to tell us about our required paper and presentation so we could be ready when the due dates start to roll around.

Each of us were grouped together with one partner. We do a presentation on a specific topic together, while each writing separate essays to ensure nobody gets wholly screwed by a partner that does no work.

The professor led her discussion on the essay portion by telling us we need to find three research papers or scholarly articles, one of which is a jointly researched piece to form the basis of our presentation.

She presented that information as though the group would only need three papers researched all together.

What she meant was that each person individually needs to have three papers for their essay. One of which can be the joint presentation paper.

Thus, all together we need five research papers for each group. When you explain it like that, the concept makes sense. However, by starting off telling the class we’d need three papers, then later telling us we’d need five, and generally not making it explicitly clear that only one of those papers can be shared…

Let’s just say she wound up getting a whole lot of questions.

Yet somehow it got more confusing. While we were all trying to figure out what the hell she meant in the first place, she started to let us know that we could take a less work-heavy paper if we wanted. All we had to do was tell her.

Naturally every single college student in the room said, “yeah we want less work.”

So she lowered the requirements. Now each group needed three papers, with each individual only needing two papers for their essay.

I can’t complain about the lessened workload, but dropping that sudden and seemingly random change on us while we still didn’t understand the original assignment was not such a great decision.

After I left class, while crossing the windy tundra between the Humanities building and College Park, I thought a lot about it. There had to be a simpler way to explain what we were doing.

So it hit me:

All you needed to say was that each person is writing an essay that needs three (or two as it became) research papers for background information.

Then that one of those papers can be shared between the two group members, the same one that will become the focus of the topic presentation on an assigned date.

It’s honestly that simple.

So why did this seemingly unimportant bit of confusion from poor explaining stick in my craw? To the point that I felt the need to write all about it, anyway.

Well… Part of the reason is because it was either this or the State of the Union address that I haven’t honestly bothered to watch yet.

The rest of my day hasn’t been very exciting.

The other part of why I decided to talk about this moment was because of how it took on a more frustrating face by my professor smiling and (if you ask me, somewhat sassily) expressing her confusion at what we found so confusing.

To some extent I can let it slide because English clearly isn’t her first language. So I have no qualms believing she may have thought her explanation was perfectly adequate.

But when literally the entire class is so obviously confused and asking a variety of questions, it seems kind of cheeky to smile and laugh as though we were completely at fault.

Maybe it’s just me, but that kind of attitude just bugs me from… Well, anyone. Though from someone I’m there to learn from especially.

Based on prior experience, it seems like the language barrier issues might just be a big problem throughout the semester.

So maybe my Psychology experience has been cursed all along.


Before I go, I also wanted to mention this neat little tidbit I missed out on yesterday:

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Happy birthday, blog!

And thanks to all of you who keep reading these things. Whether they’re goofy and full of life or annoyed and full of spite.

I really appreciate it.


Featured Image courtesy of Missmarettaphotography via Wikimedia Commons

Giving less than thanks

Giving less than thanks

Happy Thanksgiving Break week, everybody!

What a wonderful time it is to start decompressing a bit and spend extra time with your family and friends.

Unless you’re like me this year.

Fair warning, this is a ranting vent post. So if you enjoy railing against people who do terrible things, you’ve come to the right place.

This is the first time in a number of years that Cal State Fullerton has remained open the Monday of Thanksgiving Break. Every other year I’ve been here, we’ve gotten the whole week off.

That’s annoying, but a lot of my friends have never had the luxury of a full week off, so it would feel a bit disingenuous to complain about that alone.

Everything’s relative.

The annoying part comes from the fact that most teachers decided they would either cancel their classes or just offer online coursework today. Because they, too, would rather have the whole week off as it turns out.

My Evolution and Creation professor was very eager to just not have class today. However, my Learning and Memory professor decided to keep the train going.

Naturally his class is the one that offers so much compact material that I knew I’d have to come in for it at risk of falling dangerously behind. Otherwise I would have skipped out and joined my family in Burbank.

To be fair, I also have to come in tomorrow for a mandatory internship orientation, so I would have had school this week no matter what.

The part about today that really bugged me was the execution.

To set the scene: It’s a cloudy, dreary day in Orange County and campus is next to empty (hence my featured image of the often bustling Library). The universe seems to be in agreement that things aren’t right.

Every student who is here seems downtrodden, as if the gloom of coming in during Thanksgiving Break was folding into the gloomy grey skies.

When I get to my class on the sixth floor of the Humanities building, a typically 35-ish headcount of students has been reduced to about 12.

As the professor starts to take roll amid the sound of the 1:00 p.m. clock tower chime, he pauses after a string of missing names.

He says, and I quote: “What, is it a holiday or something?”

Then he offers a cheeky grin to the audience, as if the villainous character in a reality T.V. show’s confessional booth.

How much of a dick to you have to be to crack a joke about how you’ve forced your students to come in when they didn’t necessarily have to? It’s just a cruel, self-aware form of torture.

From there it was an average lecture. Lots of densely-packed information over an hour-and-a-half. It sucked to be there, but at least I felt somewhat justified by the breadth of material.

Plus, I incurred an extra benefit by getting back my research paper final draft considering I turned it in early. It was the paper from this earlier post actually.

I got an A on the final draft. Frankly that’s all that matters.

However… He was somehow even more frustrating by proxy.

On the rough draft, he said my paper was an “excellent start” before giving me a C. It was littered with red marks, to the point where I wondered how he could justify calling it excellent in any respect.

The final draft had this message adorning the front:

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Seems like a great message to accompany an A grade, right?

Unfortunately the message feels very disingenuous when you see just how much the final draft is still littered with red ink.

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I don’t get it, man. The mixed messages are real.

But hey, I never have to think about the paper again. So I can’t complain.

I just wish that my being required to come in wasn’t accompanied by such a frustrating series of events. It doesn’t help that cancelled plans made the drive out feel like more of a waste of time.

That’s not a judgement call on the person I made plans with, since I know they’ll read this ❤

Hence why I’m sitting here in the Library writing this blog post and working on some homework to justify the time.

If nothing else I appreciate seeing campus as empty as it is during the daytime. It offers me the chance to hang out in places that I couldn’t normally.

Such as the seat by this statue’s butt near a Starbucks.

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Could have never gotten that picture normally and I kind of love it?

So long as you ignore my 5 o’clock shadow and devil horns.

I really need a haircut soon. Perhaps I’ll try to do that over the break once it starts.

But that feels like a post for another day.

Forgive the Venting

I was planning on writing a happy little post earlier today about finally getting the rear window fixed in my car. It’s been probably about a year since the window stopped rolling up completely, and ever since it has been a constant struggle to keep it boarded up in case of rain.

Plus, it just got dirtier and dirtier considering I wasn’t able to run it through a car wash or blast the sucker with a hose without tearing the plastic and flooding everything inside.

But then that triumphant moment kind of soured when that minor inconvenience, now fixed, was replaced with a much more serious problem.

The motor that adjusts my steering wheel seems to have died. So now it has sagged to such an awkward place that I can barely drive the thing without knocking my knees into it and blocking its full turning radius.

I was pretty pissed at that, honestly.

So pissed in fact that I wound up burning all my energy on that, writing my Sensation and Perception research paper, and cleaning toilets around the house. Didn’t help that I couldn’t go to the gym like I wanted because of how much of a mess that whole thing became.

Also I’m kind of breaking out in acne again? And that’s honestly the most personal, nit picky part of this whole post. But it’s just on the list of things bugging me.

Part of me didn’t want to just leave another day unwritten here on the blog, but I really don’t have the energy to do anything more serious. So you’ll all just going to get this dumb venting fest for today.

I don’t think I’m going to advertise it that much or put a lot of effort into the appearance. It’s just kind of going to be what it’s going to be.

A placeholder.

Hope you’ll all let it slide, tomorrow I’ll try to throw out something more substantial and less annoyed/exhausted.

But hey – at least one of my two essays for the weekend is done. So there’s always a bright side!

The Benefits to being a Hoarder

The Benefits to being a Hoarder

They called me crazy.

“Why would you keep all of your old binders,” they said.

“You should just throw out/burn all that old stuff,” they said.

“When are you ever going to use your high school notes ever again,” they said.

Well who’s laughing now viewing audience who I’m imagining chastises me for my corner full of old binders on a daily basis. For one of the first times, I had to break out my old AP Psychology binder from about four years ago now (Yikes, I’m getting old) to help fill in a detail for a research paper I’m writing in my Sensation and Perception class.

For context, I’m writing my paper about the way language affects our perceptions of the world around us.

Part of the reason I was interested in grabbing this topic was because it stood out so much to me back in my AP Psych days. My friend Nina, who’s aiming to become a professional interpreter (and is well on her way from what I understand, given that she’s doing a gig translating for the CEO of Sony), made the idea way more tangible at the time by explaining her experiences struggling to translate certain words or emotions between English and Japanese.

Now that I’m writing a paper about that exact topic, I knew I needed to use the general idea we were learning about at the time. Unfortunately… I couldn’t remember the exact term.

My current textbook didn’t exactly provide any useful clues in that department, either.

So it was off to the pile of old binders. Eventually I managed to find the one I needed, and with a cursory search found this:

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Linguistic Determinism 

A range of views in which our thinking (or worldview) is seen as being determined or shaped by language.


That term, coined by Benjamin Lee Whorf, is the crux of my current paper.

And I would not have remembered it if not for this four-year-old binder sitting around idly in the corner of my room. Now I feel completely vindicated for hoarding all of these bulky old documents for as long as I have.

Perhaps I’ll have to go through the pile, clean up the binders and re-organize them one of these days, however. Because these things are dusty as hell and covered in silverfish.

Guess that’s the price I have to pay for just haphazardly throwing them back there after each year/semester when the promise of vacation proves too much for my better judgement to bear.

But anyway, extra special shout outs today to my AP Psych professor, Mrs. Mata, and to my friend Nina for creating such a strong, lasting impression on me that I have the perfect foundation for my big research paper this semester.

Plus that AP Psych class was what drove me to minor in Psychology in the first place so… You know. Just some icing on the cake there.

Out of the Frying Pan…

Thanks to everyone for indulging me in taking a couple days off from writing these things so I could spend time with my Grandma before she left for Florida again tonight.

Yesterday especially we spent a bunch of time together going to breakfast and watching a movie before going to a revolving sushi bar to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.

If anyone’s curious, that movie was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society on Netflix. Not planning on doing a full mini-review about it, but it was a cute little movie.

Very, very predictable. But cute.

Pretty much your typical Nazi aftermath blossoming love story. That’s a genre that exists right?

Well either way, worth watching if you like docu-drama type stuff, but I wouldn’t go out of the way for it.

I won’t linger too long on that however, because I’m not really planning on lingering too long on my blog in general tonight. I mostly just wanted to put something out justifying the fact that I missed a few days while simultaneously trying to buy myself some extra leeway for the next few days.

Because as I found out, I was a little off with dates in my calendar and will actually be far busier in the next week than I anticipated.

After taking my first Sensation and Perception exam tomorrow morning, I’ll be gearing up for next week’s gauntlet:

My first Learning and Memory exam on Monday.

The rough draft of my Sensation and Perception research paper due Tuesday.

The rough draft of my Learning and Memory research paper due Wednesday.

For some reason both my psych classes have very clearly conspired together in an effort to ruin my life for the next few days. So I’ll be dealing with all of that and might not come around to post things — unless I decide to post about some things that make me happy or less stressed or something.

Which includes things like this.

We got Halloween cereal, y’all. The end times may be here, but at least we’ll get to spend them being spooky.

Teaching Styles

As most students will tell you, over the years you begin to notice patterns in how some teachers decide to present their material.

Obviously some will be more lax while others are more strict just in general, but there are deeper distinctions when it comes to specific aspects of teaching that everyone approaches differently — especially at the college level.

For instance, one professor may only do the bare minimum of testing requirements to supplement one’s grades. Only a midterm exam, a final exam and a written paper (which is required for just about all undergrad classes in the CSU system at least).

Meanwhile, another teacher will inflate grades by doing something like scheduling a smaller quiz on material every week.

It all depends, and while there’s likely some answer to be drawn from somewhere on which method is more effective in hammering in material, it’s kind of just a subjective what one person prefers sort of deal.

All of that said, I wanted to write this quick blog post today before diving into this 13-page piece I have to read to talk about a decision in how to teach that I’ve discovered I really don’t enjoy.

Not involving that class with the 13-page reading assignment though. I’m probably going to keep these more annoyance-centric school blog posts anonymous.

Just in case.

This semester, one of my professors encouraged us to print out each chapter’s PowerPoint so we can follow along with it during lectures.

I’m not personally a fan of doing that sort of thing. I find that I retain more information when I’m writing everything down myself (something that I believe does have some precedent in research studies), so if I just have a print-out describing everything in the lecture it seems less effective.

So I decided to skip out on printing the PowerPoint and instead relied on good-old-fashioned note taking as usual.

Except apparently that suggestion to print out PowerPoints for each chapter was more of an expectation that we would be doing it.

Because this professor apparently zooms through his lecture so fast that I now have to go back and copy everything down off of the PowerPoint online so I can fill all the gaps I left before our quiz on Thursday.

Don’t get me wrong, especially in an upper level major course, I understand the desire to let students be somewhat self-reliant and go quickly through a lecture so that there’s time at the end to do other things.

We did get out of class at least a half an hour early as a result of going through things that fast. I won’t necessarily complain about that.

But to be completely honest, I would have preferred to get out of that class on-time if it meant going through the lecture at a slower pace so everyone could understand it better, regardless of how they take notes.

Yet in the end I suppose that’s a personal preference, so I’ll just leave it at that. It’s simply a form of teaching that I don’t really enjoy, but that doesn’t mean I won’t figure out how to adapt.

I’ll probably just print the PowerPoints from here on out.

To end this off, I figure I’ll throw this general topic out to you all in the audience. Have you encountered any teaching practices that you don’t enjoy? Or maybe the opposite, any teaching practices you really enjoy?

Let me know about them in the comments! I’m interested to hear about some preferences today