Expanding on essay length listed in syllabus

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Agreeing that a word count is better than a page count. FWIW, I like students to write shorter rather than longer, since they tend to think pithily rather than lengthily. A longish paper usually means padding.

The Fiona

I don't see a problem with adding permitted pages, since you'll accept a paper of the original length, but I agree that a word count is better.

Personally, I give a word count and tell them that if it's a bit short but they explored the idea thoroughly and expressed themselves well, fine. If it's a bit long but they had something extra to say that was interesting, fine.

If you're going to have a length limit, don't make it flexible. I made this mistake. If a student who wrote 12 pages gets an A, the students who thought they could only write 10 pages will claim that if they had written 12 their barely marginal writing would have been "A" work. Save yourself the hassle.

Quote from: systeme_d_ on February 04, 2013,  6:26:43 pm

If you don't want complaints, stick to what you've written in the syllabus.


I will never forget what my English Composition prof said in front of my freshman comp class.  He said, a good paper is like a skirt:  long enough to cover the subject but short enough to still be interesting.

It is gross and sexist but it is somehow just so perfect.  I sometimes will relate that notable quotable to students who stress about page limits.  I tell them I'd MUCH MUCH MUCH rather they write 4.5 solid awesome pages or extend an argument to the 8th page for a "5-7 page" paper than try to pad it or shorten it unnecessarily. 


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