Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grade Yourself

The end of the semester is nigh in the higher education realm (can we have a collective cheer?).  As my classes approach the dreaded research essay, we spend a fair amount of time discussing the importance of using pathos, logos, and ethos in concert in persuasive writing.  [I would argue that the same precept applies to writing fiction.]

I like to give my students an exercise to practice these techniques, using a subject with which they are already well acquainted.  I ask them to write me a letter (another important skill for this generation of digital natives) describing what they feel their final semester grade should be.  While their information needs to be fact-based (logos), students who may not be strong expository writers are often expert at applying these persuasive strategies. [On the other hand, last semester I had several students who tried to appeal to my sense of ethos with the contention that it was my duty to give every student at least a B.  If their rhetorical purpose was to persuade me to grade more leniently, they achieved quite the opposite, as I subsequently took great care to explain.] 

I find that self-evaluative assignments tend to be quite valuable for students and for me, too.  Those students who chafe at the strictures of an expository writing class often respond positively to an assignment that allows them an unaccustomed measure of creativity.  I suspect I get a fair amount of fiction in these responses, as well. :)

Happy end of semester, one and all!  And, if you haven't done so already, don't forget to enter our Fourth Blogiversary Gift Card Giveaway for a chance to win some great summer reading material!
-- Jeanne Marie

1 comment:

Esther Hershenhorn said...

What a TERRIFIC class assignment, Jeanne Marie!
I can see how turning this exercise on its side can be so useful - to coming at a character's voice, at a character's estimation of himself/herself, at the author's estimation of what he/she accomplished. :)
Thank you!
And,thanks to ALL who have shared the names of their treasured independent bookstores.