Tag: SOTU

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:

Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 8.00.37 PM

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

February 5, 2018 Article Published

This particular article has been a bit of a long time coming at this point.

Remember about a week ago when I was sort of live tweeting about the College Republicans club watch party for the State of the Union address I covered?

Well, the piece I wrote with Brandon about the address is officially live and in print as of today.

There was originally some confusion surrounding the article as I was expecting us to have something written the night of. However, apparently our plan was to go around and get some more reactions from various campus groups regarding what President Trump said.

It would have been nice if Brandon hadn’t forgotten to tell me that night so I didn’t show up to the newsroom, finding it empty… But that’s all water under the bridge now.

If anything, I do agree with the position now that we’re past it, since the story came out much better with some time to marinate.

Not only did we have plenty of reactions from the College Republicans (who had an interesting watch party that featured a number of extra guest appearances, such as Congressional District 39 candidate Andrew Sarega), I also talked with Romarilyn Ralston from Project Rebound about the comments made regarding prison reform and Brandon talked to a member of the Black Student Union to get a more generally left-leaning perspective.

In the end I think the extra opinions definitely made the piece better. I just hope we don’t get a lot of pushback for this coming out so late after the State of the Union… We wrote the bulk of the thing last Wednesday, but wanted to make sure it went through the full wringer before we put it out in the world.

Oh, also it’s worth noting that I took pictures for this event. Not a lot of them wound up getting used for the story proper, but it’s just one recent example of me trying to practice my multimedia skills.

Between that and a few other events I’ve been taking pictures for, I’ve found that I actually kind of enjoy doing photography more than I expected to. It’s weird to say having always categorized myself as such a hardcore print writing specialist, but it’s nice to just zone out and take photos for a while.

I also have way more respect for our photo desk and how much they do now that I have a better grasp on what it’s like.

The watch party was an interesting thing to cover and take photos for in part because there was a photographer from TIME Magazine there as well, apparently doing a longer-form piece on Republican college-level activism in California.

While that’s probably something to leave for another day, I thought it was kinda cool all the same. Even if having two people walking around made the room feel much more cramped than it already was.

With all that said, if you’re interested in reading our article, you can check it out here. But of course, if you want to see my full archive of work, you can look at it over in the archive to the right.

For now I’ve got to go. There’s class in about a half hour and I have three or four other articles on my back burner that I need to finish, so expect to see some more coming out soon.