A few months ago (geez, has it already been that long?) I posted a whine on teaching senior undergrads to write. Dr. Crazy has tackled this task in a recent post, and does it ever so much better than I did.
For one thing, she's not whining. Read Reassigned Time: On Guiding Students Through the Research Process, and the Comments.
Since my first post, I have had students in my Ethics class turn in four Reaction Papers. The average grade on the first paper (and the mode, too, while we are at it) was the moral equivalent of an "F". (Among other problems, despite most of them having already been through the Research Sequence, they still don't know APA style.) I was horrified, and they were pretty freaked, too.
Slowly, the papers began to improve--gradually at first, then radically between the 3rd and 4th assignments. I suspect that part of this is that now they realize I'm dead serious about the grading (one student admitted to me that he hadn't even opened his style manual since the course began), but the biggest part I think is that they have heard the same things ("You need a thesis statement in your first paragraph. Really. You do.") three times. Now they're gettin' it.
This last crop has actually been fun to read.
The whine, I now believe, was the result of inexperience. I don't feel so bad after reading the posts on Dr. Crazy's blog about teaching writing. In fact, it feels to me now like an appropriate part of my task (as in, "Writing Across the Curriculum"--why not?) and no reason it can't be as fun and productive as arguing about whether psychologists should be working at Guantanamo.