The Anxious Hand Off

Anyone who's taught for a while knows that students are anxious about handing in their assignments.  They often walk into the classroom and immediately want to give it to you.  You had planned to ask for the papers at the end of the period (or to let the students share their work with each other). 

But no. 

There they are standing directly in front of you and determined to be rid of the awful thing at the earliest conceivable moment.  I've never understood this behavior.  Whenever I ask them about it, they tell me it's just a relief for the work to be out of their hands.  It's done, off the to-do list.  No longer their problem.  That makes a certain sense, I guess.

Now that I've switched to on-line grading, of course, this anxious little ritual has become more complex and distressing for them.  They must now upload their assignment to the course management system, fretting all the while that something may go wonky.  Indeed, they sometimes get so stressed that they upload it again, and maybe once more just to be sure.  I have students who submit things four or five times (like an OCD sufferer who has to keep checking a door lock).  Then they send an email asking me if  I received the paper (and a second one if I don't respond within 30 minutes or less). These emails, of course, also include an attached PDF of the paper "just in case."

Compounding this is that our course management system does occasionally get wonky.  It balks at Word Perfect documents and don't even think about trying to upload from a Mac.  So now we have to add detailed caveats, codicils, tech specs and submission guidelines to our syllabi in places where we used to list only the due date. 

Sometimes I dream about teaching a course a la the 1950s.  No tech.  Skirts, jackets and ties would be required.  Everyone would be addressed in class as Mr. Baker, Miss Smith.  Students would type their theme papers on manual typewriters.  And at the final, I would simply pass out the Blue Books.

If nothing else it would help to alleviate their stress.


Anti-Dada said…
That is pretty damn funny. Obviously a headache, too. I'm glad I graduated before the dawn of the Internet--or the popularization of it, anyway. I even wrote in blue books for certain classrs--and that was the early 90s! You only need to back twenty years, maybe 40 if you want the manual typewriters. Remember all those pipe dreams about how life was going to be so much easier the more technology advanced? If it's this bad now imagine how much worse it will be ten years from now...
Professor Quest said…
Mike, don't you work almost entirely on-line? How do you avoid carpal tunnel syndrome!
Anti-Dada said…
I don't avoid it! Unfortunately, the big push for ergonomics didn't start until the early 2000s and I had already been working for years using bad habits. I do hand and other stretches and exercises, though, so its not as bad as it could be. Hard to break physical habits, though.

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