Thursday, June 18, 2009


In one of my summer classes, I have a "mating pair."

I HATE this. I HATE it when a boyfriend/girlfriend (or, I suppose, boyfriend/boyfriend or girlfriend/girlfriend, but I've not had either of those yet) take my classes together:

they sit, heads together, and coo and giggle during class. I stop talking, look annoyed at them, they shut up. I start working the equation again. They start talking again. I remind them that one of the class policies is "please do not talk when someone else is speaking." They shut up for a while longer.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Well, now I got lab reports from them. Three people - the couple and a third friend - worked together. While I did not EXPLICITLY say "write your own damn answers to the questions," I do also have a "do your own damn work" policy in my syllabus.

So I get three identical labs. My suspicion is one person - probably the odd girl out, based on another bit of evidence I have (one person forgot to change her name at the top of the lab) wrote the lab writeup, typed it up, then either e-mailed it or made copies for everyone else. They are word-for-word identical.

So what do I do? My gut feeling is to give each one 1/3 the credit: three people, one lab, ergo 1/3 the credit.

But then again: the few I've been able to solicit advice from say, "But labs are a GRAY AREA." Meaning, because I didn't TELL them "write your own damn answers," they are probably somehow justified in their belief that they can be three people with one brain.

I hate this. I hate judgment calls. On the one hand, if I give them the 1/3 credit, I will probably have griping to deal with. And very likely the "Tsch-ah" response of the scorned female student here (at least from the two females). On the other hand, even if I tell them NEXT TIME WRITE YOUR OWN DAMN LAB YOURSELF, giving them full credit just rewards them.

I don't know. I'm at such a point where I cannot decide - where I am so dragged out from this week that I really can't see a good course of action either way. Either way I'm going to have crap to deal with, and my MO for surviving this summer is going to have to be "minimize the crap."

I don't know.

I do know I will become a screaming witchbeast if I have to keep stopping Jack and Jill every class day to break them up and make them stop talking and giggling. Dammit, they are like 20 years old! This is NOT freaking 5th grade where kids are just starting to find out that the opposite sex isn't icky (well, 90 to 98 percent of the kids, depending on whose statistics you believe).

I feel disrespected. Yes, I do. It may not be valid to, it may just be the price of being a professor, but I DO feel disrespected when I am trying to teach a class and I am having to compete with "A Summer Place" going on in the third row.


Caltechgirl said...

well, I'd call them all in and scare hell out of them. I think you have a legitimate case against the one who turned in a paper with the other student's name still at the top. If nothing else, THAT is enough to lecture all of them with identical papers about doing their own work and not just relying on someone else. Wouldn't it be nice if you had just one semester with no plagiarists?

Dave E. said...

Well, I would do the Solomon thing since they are all identical. I'd call them into my office and explain that the rules are that I expect shared lab work, but not write-ups. Since there is only one write-up, how do they want to divide that?

I'm not normally into that kind of thing, but the ensuing conversation might actually be entertaining.

Depending on how that went, I might give them a chance to quickly do their own write-ups.