Can’t Get A Reading On Their Questions

| MN, USA | Learning | April 8, 2017

(Unfortunately, this happens at least once a quarter. Today, I returned draft papers to students electronically. They are required to turn in drafts. I give comments, but not grades, on drafts. Later in the day, I got a phone call.)

Me: “Hello.”

Student: “Hi, this is [Student].”

Me: “Hi, [Student], how can I help you?”

Student: “I wanted to know about the feedback on my paper.”

Me: “Okay.”

Student: “…”

Me: “Uh… can you tell me what questions you have?”

Student: “What are your suggestions?”

(This goes on a bit, as I slowly figure out that the student saw that I returned comments, but did not read them.)

Me: “Have you read the paper I returned to you?”

Student: “No, that’s why I’m calling.”

Me: “I’m happy to answer specific questions on my comments.”

Student: “Okay, I opened the document. The first comment says…” *begins to read my own comment to me*

Me: “Hey, [Student], I think the best use of our time is for you to read the comments on your own and see which ones you have questions on.”

Student: “Really?”

Me: “Yes. Feel free to call me once you have read through it.”

Student: “I didn’t understand the instructions. That’s why I didn’t do a good job.”

Me: “Going forward, make sure to let me know when you are having trouble.”

Student: “But, the instructions weren’t clear.”

Me: “What questions do you have about the instructions?”

Student: “They weren’t clear?”

Me: “In what way?”

Student: “Those aren’t helpful either. They are too vague. The instructions said to use APA style. I did that. I don’t understand what I did wrong.”

(APA is mentioned, but it is literally the last line in the instructions. I get the feeling that he has opened the instructions and is trying to find something to cling to.)

Me: “You can also check out the examples on the course website.”

Student: “Those are not clear either.”

Me: “Feel free to call me back once you have read my comments.”

Student: “So, I have to read your comments and revise?”

Me: “You can leave the paper as is for final grading. There’s no requirement to make changes.”

Student: “I’ll work on it.”

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