I got a very interesting comment from a student lately. The assignment was to write an outline for the paper that would be the major assignment for the whole semester. I gave an example of the proper format for a sentence outline, using Roman numerals and 1,2,3 and a,b,c. I did not give a specific example of the words to put in the outline, just a sample for formatting purposes.
One student, who is in graduate school, turned in a 3/4 page document with things like the following:
I. Introduction: I will write an introduction that introduces my three main points.
II. This is my first main point, where I will quote from the articles I read.
1. This is sub-point one.
2. This is sup-point two.
3. This is sub-point three. I will have three sub-points for each main point.
III. This is my second main point, where I will cite some additional articles.
IV. This is my third main point, where I will quote some more articles.
V. This is my conclusion, where I will summarize what I said in the paper.
Folks, I am not kidding. After this wonderful excursion into Outline Hades, the student attached a Reference page with 15 articles that were not mentioned once in the outline. When I flunked the assignment, the student emailed me to say that she/he (I know which sex the student was but chose not to share this information) had intentions of writing an excellent paper and that I should have seen that when I read the Reference page. Really? What grade do you think the student deserved on this document?
What examples of student-understanding challenges have you heard about or experienced?