STUDENT SUCCESS & Hints Regarding the Parameters of End-of-Week Papers for My Students

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 8/27/15.

For students in my courses, I like to put in one easy-to-find place my expectations regarding their end-of-week papers.  If you are one of my students (or just interested in APA formatting) this is the place for you.

The end-of-week papers will (usually) be summary documents that you will keep to guide you on your journey into more effective leadership and evangelism.  Here are some parameters:

END-OF-WEEK PAPERS: APA Formatting
These papers should be in APA formatting.  Below is a link to a chart that contains “examples” of APA Styles for various books, articles and references.  If you are wondering about how to correctly format an in-text citation or a reference, this downloadable “STYLE GUIDE” has almost everything listed.  Put this URL in your browser to download it:  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/media/pdf/20110928111055_949.pdf   This was created by Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab.  Go Boilermakers! (My alma mater.)  You can see examples of how to format:

  • References (pages 1-7 of the chart)
  • In-text citations (bottom of page 7 through page 12).
  • And remember, title page, abstract page, appendixes and citation pages do not count toward your paper page limit.
  • A note about abstracts: Typically these are 3/4 of a page in length. Yet students sometimes wonder how they can have the depth needed in 3/4 of a page. This of course is accomplished by re-editing an abstract until it is a tightly edited summary (i.e. abstraction) of their main points and conclusions.

END-OF-WEEK PAPERS: Late Papers
Sometimes students want to know how much I must mark down for late homework submissions.  And, I know that sometimes such tardiness is not the fault of the student, but is rather an consequence of computer problems, family emergencies, etc.  Thus, let me give you a short overview of the guidelines that fairness dictates I adhere to in scoring late homework.

  • Is it lost in cyberspace? (No penalty.)
  • It was eaten by your dog? (Penalty for dog only.)
  • It was eaten by your computer?  (Meaning it was not sent due to computer or Internet problems, and again no penalty.)
  • You have extenuating circumstances beyond your control (family or job emergency) of which you made me aware? (No penalty again.)
  • Or you just have been unable to submit it in time. (Sorry, fairness dictates a penalty of 2% per day – also tell me how many days late is was, I trust you. See the next paragraph for details.)

Again, I realize many of my students work another job. So, I try to be flexible.  Thus, I have a late policy that is less than what most students expect.  I only grade down 2% a day for late papers. So, that means if you need an extra day to work on a paper you can take the extra time and you might only get a 94 instead of a 96.  However, I CANNOT GIVE FEEDBACK ON LATE PAPERS (capitals are not because I am shouting, but for emphasis 🙂

  • Please be aware that if homework is late without extenuating circumstances that I will not be able to give you feedback on your weekly homework. That is because of the extensive grading I do for all students. And, out of fairness I must give feedback to those that submitted their papers on time. However, if there’s extenuation circumstances I will definitely be glad to lower the penalty but I cannot guarantee you will get feedback.
  • And as mentioned above, fairness dictates a penalty of 2% per day, but I can reduce this for extenuating circumstances beyond your control. Please let me know when you submit it.
  • Also, this is very important. TELL ME HOW MANY DAYS LATE IT WAS (again, not shouting – just for emphasis), or I will just assume it was the full seven days. I trust you.

END-OF-WEEK PAPERS: Their Grading & Length
Most weeks an end-of-week paper will be due by Thursday 11:59pm. Like your discussions these end-of-week papers should cite relevant outside readings which support your observations. Similar to the discussion parameters, the graduate school student is expected to be skimming several outside books each week and bringing them to bear upon their weekly papers (with citations).  Also, don’t forget to bring into your papers relevant ideas from other course textbooks.  Therefore for B level work, the student should each week be utilizing and citing in their weekly papers, one to two textbooks and two to three outside references.  Remember however, this is for B level work.  A person seeking a higher grade would be expected to do better.  And, unless specified differently by your professor, your end-of-week papers should comply with APA formatting rules.

As you can see, the quantitative aspect of the paper is purposely left vague. That is because your task is to address each week’s paper with critical thinking, scholarly support and realistic application. For some this will be longer than others, depending upon the complexity of your organization. I know you may feel it is typical for a professor to say, “take as many pages as you need,” but what we are saying with this motto is that quality is more important than quantity. So, take the space needed to address each week’s paper fully without being verbose.

But though I want to stress quality, I will try and give you some guidance by giving you a page range of above average papers I have received. Not counting the title page, abstract, citation page or appendixes (which in APA-style do not count toward your point total) I have received above average papers that varied in length from two pages to 12 pages. My guess is that an average was about 4-6 pages.

So I hope that gives you come guidance without overly stressing the quantitative aspect of your papers. Remember, the keys are to use critical thinking mad scholarly research to craft effective plans for leading ministry today.

FINAL END-OF-COURSE PAPERS:
Because my students are usually in an accelerated degree program, final papers cannot be accepted after the final day of class. Please see my other postings on this and understand why my hands are tied by university and seminary policies.