Monday, 30 March 2020


Good manners is making things easier for others people; making them feel comfortable. It's not really about knowing whether to use a fish-knife: that's a convention. One feature of successful studenting is not needlessly annoying the people who are helping you get an education. If you are always handing in assignments late, then you'll get attention, yes; but you'll also get shorter and shorter shrift . . . and lower marks. You'll do better if you scope out the foibles and obsessions of those who are assessing your reports. You shouldn't have to be told twice to begin each report with a title, date, your name and ID . . . and finish with Conclusions and Further Work. If that's what Dr Xong likes. Me, I like a date-stamp because that is a variable: results may be different on Tuesdays because that's when fresh oxygen is delivered; or nothing grew on 12 Feb 2014 because the saplings was ripped out of the seed-bed by the Darwinday Storm.

One of my things (apart from apo'strophe's and the date) is persuading students to appreciate the fact that The Gaffer is going to receive a dozen or 50 more-or-less identical reports round about the time of the deadline. If they are submitted as an electronic file, then it is kinda unhelpful if you call the attachment assignment.pdf or even BobsAssignment.pdf. That may work fine in whatever filing system you have on your laptop but it's not much use in Bob's system if all the incommmming files have uninformative names. Accordingly, I school my students to develop a system for file names; not least because it will help them find the right report later. Assignment is kinda redundant - 10 letters without any information. I recommend getting a consistent set of file-naming conventions that are short and data-rich. BobResMetTask1-120214.pdf - then again Bob may be redundant if he's the only fella teaching the Research Methods course; Task is not as good as, say, Algebra1 which will be easier if you need to ctrl+F it later.

Me, I use, and recommend, CamelCase as above [aka InterCaps or HumpBack] because it is tighter than snake_case conventions ResMet_Algebra1_120214.pdf and as a once upon a time programmer I think key-strokes shd be minzd in the int. of effic.

That's okay for your internal filing system but useless for Bob the Recipient, so your submission needs your name somewhere as well as the date and a mnemonic for the task. It helps the assessor /marker if everyone in the class adopts the same ordering convention, of course, but that's a nicety. In a normal year, assessments for computer classes would be carried out in class in the last week of term [this week]; usually with a mock exam the previous week so that everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect. In a normal year, the kids log in with an Exam Account - a limited account allowing access to Excel, SPSS, Word or whatever but not the student's crib-sheets and the interweb. Actually I always make such tests open book because the learning outcomes shouldn't require you to memorise the syntax for doing a square root in Excel but rather when or whether to use it. My younger old-style colleagues don't agree on open-book but they are wrong.

This year, of course, all normal bets are off, The Institute abruptly shuttered itself at 1800 on 12 Mar 2020 and sent all students home - to Canada in the case of one of my students. We hadn't had time to do any continuous assessment CA assessment so last Friday the five of us teaching lab sections in Yr1 Research Methods, set the continuous assessment exam / quiz / test;  to be done at home. This year I won the Open Book wars! The students were required to submit a declaration that what they turned in was all their own work [multiprev on plagiarism]. Then they picked up the Excel Exam from Blackboard having been told that they had 8 hours to complete it - Canada is in a different time zone; one of my students was back doing shifts as a nurse; not everyone has broadband or even a computer at home. To make it easier on myself I sent extra instructions to my group including: Looking forward to seeing your responses Friday. Make sure your name appears in the returned Excel file and in its file name: PantiBliss-ResMet1Excel-270320.xlsx will do nicely. But the first two submission came in named 2020_RM_Practical_copy_copy_copy.xlsx and 2020RM-C00122345.xlsx so I fired off a reminder:
Please read the instructions (and try to make it easy for me to want to give you marks). I'm going to get 16 x 2 different files as e-mail attachments whc I have to file. If they are all called RM Practical copy copy copy then I have to rename them all. I asked for PantiBliss-ResMet1Excel-270320.xlsx or something similar.
Three of the remaining submissions attached files called literally
I'm surmising two things: a) they haven't heard of celebrity dragster Panti Bliss b) they are good at obeying instructions, probably thinking "it's a rather peculiar file name but if that's what the ould bugger wants, I'll try to oblige".

1 comment:

  1. The brightest young minds of their generation... in County Carlow! Gawd 'elp us all.