I know that these observation will not surprise anyone, but I've been grading for two days and feel that I need to share.
Students are exceptionally good at memorizing stuff. They can reproduce huge chunks of my lectures verbatim. It is even kind of scary to read your own statements repeated back to you so flawlessly in several dozen exams. As somebody who can't memorize worth a damn, I'm very impressed with this capacity.
Now, the part of the exam that requires expressing one's own opinions or analyzing a passage from a text is a lot more painful. Many people prefer simply to leave this part blank. This is quite strange because one would think that expressing one's opinion about the text one read and discussed at length (and a passage from which is provided in the exam) would be the easiest part of the assignment. That's not how it is for the students, though.
Those who chose to answer the questions asking them to analyze an excerpt that was provided did one of two things: a) simply copied some part of the excerpt into the answer box, or b) found a more or less relevant quote from me among their list of memorized quotes and reproduced it.
Only two students out of those whose work I've graded up to now provided an actual analysis of the texts and wrote their own stuff rather than reproducing mine. Both of them are Latin American.
I still have 15 more exams left to grade, so we'll see if this trend bears out in all of them.
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