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Brie Stark's picture

Those are great questions. 

Those are great questions.  If I had to guestimate, I would say that at Bryn Mawr, I've experienced around 1/3 of classes that assign projects that are not entirely based on "truth" or concrete facts.  I attribute this larger percentage to the fact that a lot of Bryn Mawr professors tend to think outside the accepted norm of education, and that Bryn Mawr has a strong liberal arts founding.  The classes that I found with the most tendency to not deviate away from "truth" were mostly introductory courses, specifically those in the sciences (example: my intro chem course).  As for timelines, I've never experienced this sort of setback.  At Bryn Mawr, asking for an extension is not looked down upon, and many students take advantage of it; on a personal level, I am very deadline oriented and haven't had to use this option yet.  However, none of the teachers that I've had have ever posed such harsh punishments, like dropping an entire letter grade, on a paper.  This year alone, I would say that I wrote upwards of 30 papers (I tend to take paper-oriented classes, like french literature, psychology, and this year, classes like Paul's neurobiology and behavior and another, peace and conflict studies).  None of these papers had strict timelines.

As for the quality of thinking, I think you raise a very good inquiry: what's stressed, quantity or quality?  Coming into college, I had always experienced quantity over quality.  In high school, the assignment was: write 3 pages on so-and-so.  When I came to college, I was happily surprised to find assigments like, "take this work of french literature, find a subject you enjoy, research that subject and write an interesting paper, preferably no longer than four pages."  I was taken aback at first -- where were my boundaries?!  But over time, I realized that I wrote ten times better when I was asked for quality over quantity; I took the time to reread my papers, to discard pointless sentences and to stress my ideas in a thought-out way (something I rarely did in high school, where I could hammer out a 4 page paper in less than an hour).  So, quality is definitely the priority -- the grading scales are also based on how much you touched upon the subject, etc, so that the quality comes out in the grade, as well.

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