The title may make this sound like I’m going to give tips about grammar for upper-level students, but I don’t think I have a place there. I forget commas, I produce awkward sentences, sometimes I forget words, or forget to erase them, and I am bad at keeping my tenses. Overall, I consider myself to be a pretty good writer, especially when forming formal writings. I like to make things clear and precise, but keep things fun or easy to read.
I enjoy grammar feedback because it allows me to correct my work. I feel like most of you could agree with that.
Now we’re dropping to my main point.
I don’t think upper-level college students should get graded on grammar. Here’s why.
First, language evolves all the time. In today’s world, language and grammar are changing more rapidly than ever recorded. In fact, grammar wasn’t even a thing until the late 1800’s when some dude decided we needed structure. That’s why when you read older English texts, everyone is placing commas wherever (if they even use them) and spelling is all over the place! These people were not “illiterate” so to speak, it just wasn’t that important to be grammatically correct…as long as another person can read it and understand it…it’s good.
Second, if your student has made it to a 4000 level class, more than likely they have good grammatical capabilities. Seriously. They’ve been through YEARS of schooling by this point. Years of being graded on grammar.
Finally, a book writer might go back and read their book and make sure everything is understandable, but they are likely to miss a few things. As a writer, most of the thoughts being put to paper are taking place in their heads, so…of course, it’ll make sense to them if they reread something that makes no sense to another reader. This is why we have proofreaders.
Students are taught to proofread their own work from a very early age. If you had an English professor like I did for my first college English course, they probably made you proofread other people’s papers because they are well aware of how hard it is to proofread your own work. These skills have been taught. So why keep grading a student on them?
Ok, yes, I know…I student at an upper level should also be expected to have made a rough and final draft. But I think it’s fair to say this will only fix a majority of the issues in a paper. Final drafts should always be read over by an outsider. One could argue that the student should do that very thing then, but let’s be honest with our understanding of college and human nature, can we really expect full-time students (a majority who now have to work in their spare time to live) to find someone to proofread ALL their papers while they still have a lot of other assignments or obligations? It’s not like these papers are dissertations or expected to be published in a magazine somewhere (like magazines really care much anyway).
I dunno, maybe I’m just being a linguistic dork. what do ya’ll think?