Thursday, November 23, 2006

Something baffling about my Korean students...

Don't use this 'wicked encyclopedia'...
(Image stolen from Wikipedia)

I'm busy correcting and grading the first drafts of my students' essays, and something that most of them have done has quite baffled me.

Several times during the semester, I warned my students against using Wikipedia as a source, explaining how Wikipedia works, that it has open editing for its articles, which means that articles can undergo editing by anyone, that articles can change at any time, and that articles will not meet academic standards of reliability.

So ... what have my students done? They've used Wikipedia, of course.

Now, I happen to like Wikipedia -- as anyone who reads this blog knows -- and I cite it all the time in my blog entries, but this blog functions as a freer space for brainstorming on my speculations and musings, not as a scholarly format for serious publication.

The occasional visitor who pops in here without realizing how I use this blog can get annoyed when I don't meet scholarly expectations. For instance, I had an anonymous reader last spring who combed my musings obsessively, looking for the even the smallest degree of inconsistency, and accusing me of various sorts of intellectual sins. I finally grew tired of him, decided that he was an odd sort of 'troll,' told him so, and -- to my astonished joy -- got rid of him that way.

In short -- and to return to my point -- I'm not trying to meet scholarly standards here, so I can use Wikipedia if I want.

But my students had better not use it on their academic papers -- as I have repeatedly warned.

Yet, they have done so, and when I've delved into this with them, I discover that they did listen to my warnings and that they do know that they're not supposed to use it.

"So, why did you use it?" I ask.

A weak smile appears, but no explanation is forthcoming, merely a "Sorry."

"Well," I reply, "then you must be expecting a 'sorry' grade."

And that's precisely what they receive.

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At 10:14 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

a 'sorry' grade

Good for you!

I like wikipedia as a start to get an idea of what to look up in more reliable places. That's assuming you know nothing to start.

Have a happy Thanksgiving, Prof. Will you be eating any turkey? Or don't they have it in Korea? My Korean friends here say they like chicken better, but maybe they just don't know how to cook a giant Butterball.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Most of the first drafts are sorry anyway, but students will get a second chance on the final draft.

I'd prefer eating turkey to talking turkey and eating crow, a real possibility when one maintains a blog, but edible turkey is hard to find in Korea.

Thanks, anyway, for the Happy Thanksgiving -- and the same to you.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:33 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

I wonder if you told students to never use the OED if that would start popping up in bibliographies, too.

My guess is that it's a good starting point for students. Whether out of laziness or ignorance or something else, Wikipedia is a useful place to begin the same way that the library's encyclopedia was back in elementary school.

At 3:40 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Jessica, I agree. Wikipedia is a great place to begin. It's very useful as a research tool because it can help one quickly grasp an issue and it can lead one to better sources.

Unfortunately, my students are not using it that way, but as a substitute for real research.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:26 PM, Blogger Hathor said...

It disturbs me, that anything on the Web is thought to be a source of facts, especially with bloggers. Try finding an original source when they defend a position, you some times get a link to a link to a link. I may be guilty of this myself, but I do try not to be.

At 4:05 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, it does get difficult, at times, to track down an original source behind all of the linking.

Plus, one encounters the problem of broken links...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Great Big Billy Goat Gruff,

I have not gone away. My comments last spring were designed simply to make you recognize yourself for what you are, and you have satisfied me by doing this.

But I come back and see that you have not dealt with these issues in any thoroughgoing way. All this stuf about Wikipedia and intentions, for example, continues the tradition of bogus intentionality that was your downfall last spring!

Look, if you feel you can use Wikipedia "as a research tool because it can help one quickly grasp an issue and it can lead one to better sources", you cannot deny your students this same right. Since it is not possible for you to gauge their intentions accurately, you have no means of knowing whether they "are not using it that way, but as a substitute for real research".

Among other reasons why not, this is because your own use of Wikipedia meets perfectly the use of Wikipedia you claim for your students: a substitute for real research.


Your Bad Conscience (aka The Troll)

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, I told my students that they could use Wikipedia to learn but that they shouldn't trust it, I told them why they shouldn't trust it, and I told them that they shouldn't cite it on their essays.

I don't cite it on my scholarly work for the very reasons that I explained to them.

Now, you don't like my blog, and I don't like your comments, so I suggest that we simply avoid each other.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffery wrote:

"I told my students that they could use Wikipedia to learn but that they shouldn't trust it,"

I think my new name for you will be Humpy Dumpty. You appear to believe you can make words mean whatever you want them to mean. Words like "learn" and "trust", for example.

But perhaps you simply think "authority" means "power". That would help to explain things, I think.

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Anonymous, you are trolling again.

As I told you several months ago, your comments reveal that you are too intelligent to genuinely misunderstand my posts.

This 'Anonymous' persona that you have adopted posts tedious, condescending, tendentious comments.

Don't waste your time and mine. Do us both a favor by going elsewhere in cyberspace.

At any rate, you'll waste my time no more. Future trolling by you will be deleted without comment.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:42 PM, Blogger gordsellar said...

I made it simple and showed my students a prioritized list of source types with estimated levels of reliability. TV and Internet were both right at the bottom. I encourage them to use Wikipedia to get a basic idea on a subject, but that this kind of research is the basic, non-directed, non-cited research that just helps one get started in looking at things in a way that seeks to understand them better.

I told them I don't want sources that are cited from the Internet except when the site is hosted by a peer-reviewed journal. Not all research need be cited, after all -- some of it's just done to establish basic competency in an area.

And ignore that Anonymous troll. He or She is being a twit, and not worth your time. you explained yourself fine, and misunderstandings are quite obviously willful in this case.

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Gord, those are good suggestions on source hierarchies. I'll act upon them next semester ... assuming that I'm teaching at an institution and level where such things are needed...

Also, thanks for the words of encouragement on how to deal with Anonymous.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find that although it may seem to the shallow thinkers an unnecessary and bothersome task to follow Professor H's policies, it definitely allows a student(at least in my case) to think deeper and produce something that is less superficial.
I have often felt the limitation of undergraduate courses for English majors in a non-English speaking country-personally and from others' opinions-being an English major myself and also having several friends who are English majors in other universities. Not unfrequently, all that is required of English majors is whether they have understood this piece of alien writing well enough to jot down any opinion on it. This sometimes includes even the ability to Google for others' opinions and combine them together as my own.
Professor Hodges, by expecting some kind of original feedback from his students, or at least the wits to find out where our borrowed knowledge comes from, encourages us in our mental development and thought. So if his student believes it is a good policy, there is no place for unidentified blasphemers to say otherwise.

At 9:35 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, "A Student," for the defense against Anonymous the 'blasphemer'
(though I'm probably not sanctified enough for charges of "blasphemy" to be leveled against my critics).

I'm glad that my approach to teaching has been useful for the intellectual development of at least one student: you.

Jeffery Hodges

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