A British university’s professors have been told by the college’s administration not to use words in capital letters when setting assignments because it might frighten students into failure.
Britains Express newspaper says staff at Leeds Trinity’s school of journalism have also been told to “write in a helpful, warm tone, avoiding officious language and negative instructions”. Some blasted the move as “more academic mollycoddling” of the snowflake generation. An “enhancing student understanding, engagement and achievement” memo lists dos and don’ts – with “do” and “don’t” among words frowned upon.
Course leaders say capitalizing a word could emphasize “the difficulty or high-stakes nature of the task”.
The memo says: “Despite our best attempts to explain assessment tasks, any lack of clarity can generate anxiety and even discourage students from attempting the assessment at all.
Generally, avoid using capital letters for emphasis and “the overuse of ‘do’, and, especially, ‘DON’T’.”
The memo also says that staff must be “explicit about any inexplicitness” in their assignment briefs.
And it warns that when students are unsure of an assessment, “they often talk to each other and any misconceptions or misunderstandings quickly spread throughout the group (usually aided and abetted by Facebook).
This can lead to further confusion and students may even then decide that the assessment is too difficult and not attempt it”.
One staff member said they use capitals to emphasize the importance of a particular point so students do not miss it.
The lecturer said: “We have some excellent students but it’s a constant battle against a system that wants to treat them like little kids. We are not doing our students any favours with this kind of nonsense.”
The university said the guidance was sharing “best practice from the latest teaching research”, adding: “We take pride in supporting our students to be the very best they can be.”
Students at Manchester have voted to ban clapping it could frighten students or trigger anxiety and suggest using “jazz hands” to show appreciation.