Today I checked off one of the items on my "vacation" to-do list: I graded a stack of paper proposals for one of my undergraduate classes. And because the students won't be getting them back until after spring break is over, I sent out a quick e-mail blast to the class as a whole, telling them that they were finished, and that if they wanted me to send my comments via e-mail so they'd have them to work with, they should send me an e-mail and I'd respond as quickly as possible.
Within the first hour, I had my first two requests. And it's here that I discovered (rediscovered?) what seems to be an immutable law of student interaction: The students who take the most initiative to get feedback and assistance are generally the ones who need it least. Seriously: these first two students to request my comments are the only two who got full points on the assignment. The third (and so far only other) student to ask got the equivalent of an A-minus on her proposal.
Now, it's possible that most students aren't too concerned right now, because we did have proposal conferences before spring break, so it's not like they don't have anything to go on at all. And I'm sure that more students, representing a broader range of performance, will be writing in over the next couple of days, and they'll get exactly the same attention from me as the early-birds do. But I do find it interesting -- though not surprising -- that there is a strong correlation between taking initiative and generally doing well on assignments, and that the cause/effect relationship is circular. Which is to say, these students were already doing good work because they know to get out ahead of these things and ask for help when they need it.
In other news: going out for real social time tonight. And also, here's a thing I saw yesterday: