Sample Student Responses

Here are excerpts from a set of InterChange responses students wrote early in the first semester of English 101 (while we were still getting to know one another and learn our way around the machinery). The students were initially asked to write brief responses to prompts about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave," which we had begun to discuss orally at the very end of the previous class:

Msg 1: Kathryn
HEY EVERYBODY: I know what an allegory is! It is a story that is in itself a symbol, instead of a story that contains symbols. In this case the cave is an allegory for reality, whether it is real or just a figment of our imaginations. In the immortal words of that annoying commercial, "What is real?"

Msg 2: Mandy
Dialogue is the form of writing which shows a direct conversation between two or more people in which their exact words are used and quoted. (This has to be the simplest explanation to the simplest question.)

Msg 3: Scott
This is the only answer I can be sure of because this information has been drilled into me through four years of high school. An allegory is a story that uses its characters as symbols to show a deeper meaning for the reader to interpret.

Msg 4: George
An allegory puts an equal sign between an image and an idea. An allegory is always false. Nothing is ever exactly anything else. An allegory is always true. Everything resembles everything else if you think about it hard enough.

Msg 5: Ron
Chairness just doesn't make any sense. How can something like that be more real than an actual chair?

Msg 6 Scott
Gosh, Doc (msg 4), college really is different from high school. Nobody would have let me get away with an answer like the one you just gave.

. . . .

Msg 50: Kathryn
I think that senses don't do much for reality. Our senses are too easily tricked (magicians) for us to be able to rely on them. Not to mention that an illness can warp or damage any sense we have.

Msg 51: Kate
Dr. Newtown: do you think that class discussion suffers if it all takes place on a screen? There are several points I would like to hear people say, and our response times are really delayed. Some of these messages seem processed, mine included.

. . . .

Msg 64: George
Kathryn (msg 50)--So what else do we have to rely on, except sensory data? Without it you have no science, no art, not even much knowledge of anything. (Except, of course, what authority figures--Plato, popes, presidents--tell you must be so.

Msg 65: Mandy
Kate, I agree with your message #51 completely. We seem to be losing something in this discussion. This *$#&$* computer won't even let me read all these messages before it starts going haywire.

Msg 66: Scott
Kate: True (message 51), you cannot express emotion over a computer, although I think some people might not open up as much if we held this as a discussion.

Msg 67: George
Kate (msg 51), yes, I think discussion may suffer by slight delays, but in an oral discussion, anyone except the next speaker experiences a delay anyway, and then the discussion may shift so that your point becomes no longer appropriate. In the conventions of our electronic medium, the points are always appropriate, and everyone is obliged to talk. No one can sit in the back of the room and observe forever, and no one can hog the discussion.

. . . .

Msg 81: Katrina
GNewtown: I agree with your message #67. There are some of us who would sit back and observe forever, not because we wanted to, but because the personalities are so different/strong in here--therefore I would not speak my opinion half as much, because I do not wish to get in a strong verbal exchange first thing in the morning. The computer helps me with this, because it makes me reconsider everything before I actually type it.

Msg 82 Jessica
Chairness does make sense; in fact it is more easily understood than a chair. An object that is, in fact, not a chair may have chairness. For instance what you sit on has chairness.

. . . .

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