Suzanne Smith

Paper or Digital?

Discussion created by Suzanne Smith on Nov 11, 2018
Latest reply on Nov 13, 2018 by Tammy Powley

Recently I came under some good-natured (?) teasing about being a 21st-century professor who still collects paper copies of student writing. Yes, I do, for several reasons. I believe that manuscript presentation is part of the writing process. This includes final editing, document formatting and yes, stapling a paper so that its pages stay together for reading. On that last point, stapling a paper has become an area of contention in some of my classes as students don't think to take this final step. Thus, I receive papers with loose pages, turned-down corners, paper clips, and recently, a hair pin. Yes, I could avoid all of this by having all final drafts submitted electronically, but I think this takes an area of accountability away from a student. How easy to just hit "submit" and let me print off the paper if I need to examine pages side-by-side or want to "draw" on the paper as part of my feedback. I also don't just take in the final paper alone; I ask for successive drafts, in-class peer reviews, and post-writings so that I can examine the student's writing process, not just the final product on a flat screen. There is a certain amount of pride, it seems to me, with presenting a printed paper copy of a composition in physical form. I want beginning writers to feel that sense of ownership and responsibility for their work. Sometimes, for logistical reasons, I do ask for electronic submissions--this also has its merits in terms of feedback--but I am not quite ready to give up the paper copies. Does this make me a dinosaur as a professor? What do you prefer--paper or digital? 

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