Winter holiday is here, and I’m in Japan! 4

Winter holiday is here, and I'm in Japan!
TOKYO, JAPAN — This year’s winter escapade is not to a warm, sunny location like Malaysia, but to the more wintry Japan — a joint effort by my son and me. He had some comp time available, and wanted to visit me in Jishou, but as I had planned to travel outside China during the Spring Festival, we settled on two weeks in Japan. Fun fact: this year, the Chinese New Year falls on my birthday. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which day that is. I gave my exams on Dec. 30, and spent the rest of the week reading them and calculating grades for my 150 students. I discovered two disturbing things: at least two of my sophomores had cheated on their exam and hardly any of the sophs had improved their listening comprehension marks over the last three terms. The cheaters flunked their exams, and the term. They will need to take a new test next term. I also get to read their classmates the riot act, as I suspect those two were just the unlucky ones who got caught. The sophomores’ failure to improve their skills much since they were freshmen is a bigger ...

Are most academic theses merely regurgitating others’ work?

JISHOU, HUNAN — This question is addressed in all seriousness to you academics out there, specifically those with more experience reading bachelor’s and master’s theses in Western countries. I ask because most theses that I’ve been reading here just seem to be retreads of the same basic paper, with little or no original thought in them. Students ask me to read over their theses, for grammar and what not. Maybe in all I’ve read a dozen bachelor’s or master’s thesis, which for the most part are absolute drivel. The assignment seems to be a pro forma exercise toward obtaining their degree. Whether the paper makes any contribution to world knowledge seems not so important. Is this strictly a Chinese thing? Or is it because this university is a third-tier institution? Or is it more widespread? In other words, are most American graduation theses also merely summaries of what others have published? Let me explain further. Our Business English majors have to write a 6,000 to 8,000 word graduation paper in English in their senior year. The college has a list of about 50 suitable topics, such as, the difficulties of the translation of contracts, cross-cultural business negotiation strategies, the translation ...
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