February 8, 2023

From Gerald R. Lucas

Unit 1 Test Feedback
Updated February 7, 2024

Today marks the first unit complete in ENGL 2111. Congratulations. Most of you did fine for the first test, but there’s always room for improvement. Please see my feedback for your unit 1 test on Gilgamesh and the Iliad below.

The Education of Enkidu

I tried to be generous since it was your first test, and generally if you engaged the materials in a competent way, you scored high enough to pass. Unfortunately, there were some top items that effe cited lower grades: some

  • did not read the directions or prompt closely
  • did not write an essay when asked (question 1),
  • wrote too much that did not address the question,
  • did not attribute quotations, or
  • provided few or no details or development.

Don't fret, though, if this grade is not as high as you wanted; you have plenty of opportunities to make it up. Just keep up with your work. Remember: these tests are to show me what you have learned about the material. Simple one-sentence answers will not suffice.

First off, this is a college-level literature course. All writing must use the standard conventions of written English, like punctuation, capitalization, and and subject/verb agreement. I should not even have to say this, but many of you turned in sloppy, perfunctory, and poorly written work. This will always cost you points. Likewise, you must use proper conventions when writing about literature. Titles must be presented correctly; e.g., Gilgamesh and the Iliad (only one L), not Gilgamesh and the Iliad. You see the difference? (See Understanding Common Conventions and Vocabulary for College Essays.)

It's obvious that many of you are not reading the background materials that I have assigned. It is very difficult to do well on these tests without this additional knowledge. Do not skip these videos and additional readings. This is part of taking an online class. For example, if you write about arete in the Iliad without defining arete, then you did not sufficiently answer the question. (See The Heroic Ideal of the Iliad.)

Some answers totally missed the mark, which suggests you didn’t read everything assigned—or didn’t read carefully enough. Remember that you do not have the benefit of lecture in an online course, so you must read what I would have resented to a face-to-face course. Most of this occurred during the question about civilization. This question should have been a pretty easy one—and it was if you did all of the reading.

If you quote something—particularly a secondary source—you must also list the source. Just saying “the text” will not suffice. If you are quoting the primary text, just a parenthetical page number at the end of the sentence will suffice; you should never write “on page 345” as this is awkward and unnecessary.

Most points were lost for lack of development. Many of your answers started out well, but petered out with a lack of detail, examples, or analysis. For example, many of you listed the important women in each epic, but never went beyond that list to actually analyzing their significance in the texts. You should begin any discussion of the heroic ideal by defining exactly what that is. Remember, analysis and interpretation are always key.

Always proofread. Some writing is not up to the standards of college sophomores. I did my best to overlook much of this, but sometimes I could not figure out what a sentence was trying to say. Likely, a thorough proofread would take care of this issue. Make sure you allot time to do this.

OK, if you have specific questions that I did not address here, please send me an email. You may also want to check out the Literature Questions of the CompFAQ—particularly if you are struggling or need ore guidance. Otherwise, see you online. Enjoy your weekend.

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