I think I finally figured out how to make students follow my instructions. For the first time ever, I got every single student in both sections of my Survey course to hand in an essay in the correct format. Not a single one of them created one of those cutesy cover pages that I hate. Not a single one used a bunch of different fonts to prettify the title. There weren't even any smiley faces in the essays.
The reason why it worked was that I said the following magical phrase, "Unless you follow this exact format, I will not give you a good grade." Threats work, people.
Then, unfortunately, I dropped the ball. After I bullied them about the format, I proceeded to talk about the importance of using correct terminology. I told the students that names of literary movements, genres, words like "plot" and "characters" have to be used correctly. I explained this, I included it into a PowerPoint Presentation, and created a hand-out explaining the terminology. I forgot, however, to accompany all this with a threat. As a result, I had to spend endless hours correcting horrible gaffes in terminology. (For those of you who are Spanish-speakers: several students referred to a plot of a novel as "la parcela" and to characters as "caracteres." I had specifically discussed these two terms with them on at least five different occasions.)
Now I guess I'll have to add the refrain ". . . or I'll give you a bad grade" to every instruction I give to the students. The students I have in this course are really lovely. Great kids who are a pleasure to teach. Still, they don't seem to respond to anything as well as they respond to threats. I don't want to act as a bully all the time but I simply can't correct the same basic mistake in terminology over a hundred times in every batch of essays. My wrist is literally numb. So bullying it is.