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Myth 2:

Every professor has different expectations; they're all crazy!

Some Students' Reasoning: "Within my major, my professors want us to analyze our data and relate it to class discussions. Yet in another class last semester, the instructor wanted only the research information and no opinion added in our term papers." -- Melissa

Some Professors' Reply: Of course, there are various expectations for writing among disciplines due to differences in course levels as well as theoretical assumptions.

Some Suggestions:

  1. Teach the conflict explicitly. As Gerald Graff argues, "Academic institutions already are teaching the conflicts every time a student goes from one course or department to another, but they are doing it badly" (Beyond the Culture Wars 12).

    Expectations need to be made clear, such as when Laura Pence in Chemistry stipulates: "The procedure section [of a lab report] should be a detailed description of . . . . your experience in the laboratory (. . . always written in the past tense and the third- person passive voice." Then she explains the reasons for the use of the past tense, the third-person, and the passive voice.

    Imagine if a contradictory expectation was discussed, such as the use of the present tense for an analysis of an art object and a literary text. Then student will understand that these differences are due to reasonable conventions, not arbitrary rules. Another useful example: MLA vs. APA documentation.

  2. Seek connections among students' diverse writing assignments. See the Connections: RLC & Other Courses.

MINIMUM CLASS TIME: 15-30 minutes
CORRECTING TIME: may decrease