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Some stupid things I have been doing include the fragment. This one is probably the most stupid and pointless (and shame-inducing) as it obviously has no purpose other than functioning as a very small and uncomfortable pillow shielding the student from the hammer blows of constructive criticism. I found myself somewhat urgently looking back through my graded papers and preliminary drafts. There I found, "Good job." "Great point, overall." "Nice work." How about, "Bullshit?" My flagrant fragments are only setting my students up for failure, as I feel they are both vague and arbitrary. Why is it nice work? What is nice about it? What am I even referencing?
Another mistake of which I am now aware is my sticking to the compliment-criticism-compliment sandwich form. It is so tired in so many ways. This end-comment's formula has likely become ingrained into students through high school and in order to more effectively guide students, instructors (in college!) need to try something different --something healthier than a bullshit sandwich. It would certainly catch my attention if an instructor addressed me personally, commented on my successes specifically and examined my (paper's) failures critically but encouragingly.
I was glad to know that some of my techniques seem to be productive. I tend to focus on a paper's specific strengths and weaknesses while not overloading it with comments. I usually tend not to use fragments and I feel as I get to know students better, I will approach praise and criticism more personally. I will say I am not afraid to address some papers more critically than others while not soullessly tearing into students' self-confidence. That's good, I think.
My End Comment for Smith's "The Genre of the End Comment":
She does a lot of things well in her article --clarification of the study, a comprehensive overview of genre, logical conclusions, and definitely made me more aware of my potentially unproductive and even detrimental employment (and internalization) of the conventions of the end-comment genre.
However, I am somewhat unclear as to how comments might effect students. In several footnotes, Smith mentions a study by Claudia Keh concerning students' views of the helpfulness of different comments --however, I feel I would have benefited from more specific examples. Granted, the theories implied in her argument are highly logical and I want to believe them but I cannot help but be somewhat suspicious.
I would also argue that perhaps concluding the end comment with some praise is not always the best strategy even in the coaching genre as seem to be implied (264). I have read another study focusing on managerial practices and often when a co-worker receives constructive criticism followed up by some sort of praise, there is often a tendency to entirely disregard the criticism in favor of the praise. This has to do with a psychological theory based on the observation that we remember the first and the last items in a sequence better than the rest of its content and perhaps this applies to writing and speech as well.
Finally, I am a little reluctant to examine the end-comment outside of its context(s): its situation at the end of a paper full of other comments and perhaps in relationship to other comments on previous drafts of the same paper. There is a tendency to comment less on final drafts than preliminaries, I think.
However, these 'shortcomings' I feel, are just avenues for future research on a fascinating subject of which I was unaware before Smith's interesting piece.