Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Exam week oddities

It's finals week here, thank God for that, I'm nearly done with this semester, which had more low points than high points.

But here are some random observations before I go:

1. Why are students so obsessed with "how many questions will there be on the exam?" ? I already tell them that "finals follow the same format as in-class exams" which means some multiple choice (I have to get these suckers graded in some reasonable time-frame, and frankly, some of my students' writing is sufficiently illegible that an essay exam would make me frustrated), some short answer, some short essay. The number of questions should not matter.

2. There are an increasing number of students who don't seem to bother to find out when their exams are ahead of time. As I'm in here long days (come in before 8 am) to get research done, I've directed a few mildly frantic people, and explained to a few that no, your exam does not necessarily meet at the same time as your class did. This information is up online and every faculty member I know announced exams in class...it's just another manifestation of the "I'm gonna slide through life, someone else will take care of me" mentality I see in some people.

3. Why, even though I expressly say DO NOT DO THIS AND DO NOT EVEN TRY ASKING ME, do students e-mail me after the class is over requesting extra credit. As per my syllabus: 1. I do not give extra credit and 2. Even if I did, I cannot give it to one person without calling the rest of the class and offering the opportunity. I explain the ethical issue of offering extra credit to one person and not the rest of the class and the students' response is almost always, "But I won't tell anyone!"

THAT'S NOT THE POINT. The point is my character and the fact that I am not going to violate my own ethical code just so you can slide through with a minimal C instead of the D you earned.

4. I've received more than one e-mail this fall making some unreasonable request, and then the student added "LOL" after the request, like that somehow would push it into the realm of plausibility. They probably don't realize that that "LOL" pisses me off even more and disposes me even less to even consider their request.

5. I really can't stand it when someone comes weeping to my office over their having earned a D. It's like, didn't you see this coming? Did it really blindside you? Did all those exams I handed back with scores of 65% and 68% and such not provide a road map?

If you really can't see from the grades you're earning that you need to do something differently AFTER THE FIRST TEST, then maybe you really are a D student. D for "denial."

(Again - I think this is part of the culture of not-taking-responsibility-for-themselves that I see in some people. When I had the bad fortune to earn a D on an exam, the day I got the exam back I had a tutor scheduled and had checked out a supplemental text book from the library. Because I knew the only person who could fix my D was me. And yes, I did fix it - though I will observe part of the issue was the arrogant jerk of a professor, who didn't follow the textbook with his topics, and then finally let slip, "I am teaching this following the discussion in Fermi's "Thermodynamics." Which I then went out and bought a copy of (it was $4 in a Dover reprint - best $4 I ever spent), read it, and wound up earning an A on the next exam.)

6. I guess students don't realize that it really, REALLY annoys the professor for them to come to his/her office and ask if the exams are graded yet. That's why God made online gradebooks! When I have the exams done, your grade will be up there. Stopping by my office to ask me will only slow me down and put me in a bad mood!

7. It makes me sad that the 10% of problem students take up 90% of my time and energy, and the remaining 90% - some of whom could probably really benefit from a little more attention - sometimes wind up getting neglected. But the squeaky wheel really does get the grease, whether it deserves it or not.

No comments: