Indeed it does. This is something I tell my students early and often about their work. Yes, we talk about ethos, about the students taking the time they need to write well, how important it is to follow directions, and how they should focus on working smarter, not harder. But if none of these lessons stick, then I have one more way to try and try to get them to take their work seriously: appealing to their sense of pride.
How many of your students, when it comes time to hand in their papers, do so quickly, with averted eyes, often shoving their paper in the middle of the pile as if to hide it, and then quickly retreat to their seats, never daring to engage you? Of course, this is before electronic submissions, but one could imagine the students throwing their hands up and simply pressing send/submit/upload, seconds before the deadline. How many of them hope and pray that their efforts will earn them whatever grade they “need” rather than feeling confident in the work they have submitted?
Pride. Take pride in the work that you do. Come to class to hand in your paper feeling proud of the effort and the results. Know that this was really, truly the best you could do, rather than the best under the often self-inflicted circumstances? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to look your professor in the eyes when you place your paper confidently on the top of the stack? Maybe even throw in a little, “I hope you enjoy it” for good measure? How much more pleasant would your college/educational experience be if every assignment wasn’t fraught with anxiety, doubt, and despair?
This also works with students who have had to face legitimate obstacles during the semester. You might not have earned the A, but you passed, and there is a certain degree of pride you can take from just getting to the finish line. Looking at the stats from my institution, this is no small feat. And before I am accused of indulging in my students’ snow-flakery, I think that students who managed to pass my courses even thought their house burned down, they were arrested, their mother died in a house fire, or their father going into rehab (all documented) deserve to take some solace from the fact that they didn’t flake out. We all have times in our lives where we simply go through the motions because other things have taken over. It’s life, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
It’s something I’m also trying to remember myself this summer as I try to grind out research articles and hopefully the solid beginnings of a book. When I press send on the email submitting my work, I want to know that it was the best I can do, and that I feel good about it, regardless of if it’s accepted or not. Makes resubmitting it elsewhere that much easier, too.