open email to a course lecturer
as for the grade-entry. yick, of course.
but not *nearly* as bad when the problems
are presented in their natural order as when
they’re *randomly* ordered.
this i consider an insult to me:
it’s *very* frustrating paging around looking
for scores and checking for completeness
because some student wouldn’t take the time
to organize their own work (as if their time
were somehow much more valuable than mine).
some instructors require very rigid standards
in formatting (name and date in upper right,
staple in upper left, etcetera etcetera).
it’s good for me as a grader when they do
but i never ran my own lectures that way
and sure wouldn’t ask anyone to.
properly-ordered copy is another story.
i’ll penalize Out Of Order starting with HW3.
but the real issue is always:
how “rigorous”… how “correct”, really…
should the *writing* be.
answer: much *more* than what i’m seeing.
there’s some amazing good work in these stacks.
and some embarrassingly careless stuff too.
i need to see *full sentences*
with all the articles (a, an the)
ENGLISH HAS ARTICLES
and having *subjects*
SENTENCES HAVE SUBJECTS
(that are clearly named: “it” is seen everywhere
but “it” is often unidentified by any language
on its page)
and with its *words spelled out*
(the sign of equality, =, for example,
must *not* be used as if it were
shorthand for “is”):
CODE IS NOT SHORTHAND ENGLISH.
(one special case deserves mention here:
$\Rightarrow$ (the logical “implies” symbol)
appears essentially at random on many pages.
faculty do this, too. no use trying to penalize it.
but much the hardest issues in reading
sketchy telegraph-style hide-the-weakness
student work comes out in the little words like
“for” and “and” and “so”. the logic gets
WORDS HAVE MEANINGS
i end up spending a *lot* of time trying to resolve
things that the student darn well *ought* to have
tried to make clearer.
some of them know this and write badly *on purpose*.
so let me ask you to urge them to take
COMMENTS LIKE THESE
and to code carefully.
f \not= f(x)
and stuff like that.
i’ve gotta get back to marking.
sorry for the blown deadline.
i’ll try to see you when i drop off papers