Bleah. Grading. While most of my students have gotten better about the basic structure of an essay and the idea of making an arguable claim, followed by some sort of evidence that supports it, the actual quality of the evidence and the analysis of that evidence is still, shall we say, lacking.
I had my students in peer review highlight each others' paragraphs to color-code for claims and evidence and analysis, and by and large they discovered that the structures were perfect because there were, indeed, sentences on either side of the quotes being used. The actual content or relevance of those sentences to the evidence, however, doesn't necessarily match up. Clearly there is a disconnect in terms of quality control on both the writer and the peer-reviewer ends. Argh.
And the logic as they walk me through their argument processes! Sigh. My friend posted this satire of a TED talk from the Onion, and I shall re-post it as my students all seem to suffer from Because?Magic! in their logic:
I don't know how to teach this sort of basic "there's a hole in your logic three miles long and you have to actually explain how each step in the logic works" thinking. All of the "logic" I find posted on the web from philosophy courses and Toulminian argument is way more structured and advanced than I am going for. I just want them to show the steps of their thinking and not contradict their own claims half a page later.
Of course, if this satire is right that they're getting it from the business world (and political campaigns too!), I don't know how much I could do about it. ...Wait! I have an idea! An idea that will solve our students' logic problems, completely revamp NCLB and save our country money! Wanna know what it is?
You're gonna have to pay me to find out. Make checks payable to the Save the Sisyphus Foundation, Ltd.