Using Student Essays from Previous Semesters as Examples

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The poll is pretty self-explanatory, I think. This semester I am, for the first time, encountering college students who do not seem to know how to write a college-level essay. I anticipate this being a continuing problem in my course next semester, so I am thinking about strategies for dealing with it more effectively.

If you have other suggestions I may not have thought of, please let me know!

I voted yes with permission, but I use old essays (without permission) all the time. In twenty years, no one's come after me, but I guess there's still time.

I use examples of student work all the time, but ensure they are for different writing prompts or cases.

I try to get permission as often as possible. Students are always flattered to be asked, and I tell them that I'll removed their name if they'd like.

I find sample papers to be a really valuable teaching tool. In the absence of student samples, I have written my own, but I usually don't have the time or energy for that. (It's occasionally pretty cathartic to write a purposely terrible essay, though.)

Yes, preferably with permission.

The best hint I ever got about this was from (I think) polly mer, who suggested circulating examples of B work, with the note that 'A'  work will be better in some way than the examples. That can help prevent students from trying to cleave too closely to the examples you circulate and then complaining that they didn't get an A.


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