Friday, January 31, 2014

Scene from an exam

So I gave my first exam today. This is in a intro-level majors class; it's a class in which you have to earn the equivalent of a 70% to be able to take upper-division classes in my department.

It's also a challenging class. There's a lot of material. Oh, it's not impossible to earn an A; I have people earn As every semester. But a lot of people also can't handle the amount and speed of the material, because they either coasted in high school, or went to a high school that prepared them badly.

So we get lots of repeaters. I have three people from my last-semester class taking this one again, and one person who was in my lab section (but not lecture) last go-round.

So anyway, I gave the exam. And one of the repeaters, when he handed it in, went, "This is different from last semester's."

Uh, yeah. I'm not that stupid. And anyway, I know there are exam files floating around out there, and if you hand back your exams (some profs do not), you need to create new ones each semester.

But I am amazed at how some folks don't seem to learn from past mistakes. Maybe not so much Mr. "But you didn't just copy last year's exam," but I also have someone re-taking the class whose attendance was for crap last time, and it's bad again this time. Attendance correlates well with performance, and while it could be as much a measure of how much of a damn a person gives (that is, both attendance and performance are correlated with giving a damn, and that's what causes both to be high, rather than that attendance assures a better grade), still, he did pretty badly last time.

And I also once had the guy who plagiarized a paper, failed the class, retook it, and then plagiarized again. When I busted him, his response was, "I didn't think you'd check."

I just stared at him, amazed. I wanted to say, "Of everyone in the class, yours was the one I MADE SURE to check," but I didn't.

I don't know. I don't like to brag on how smart I am but I am smart enough to learn from my mistakes and not make them again. Hell, I'm smart enough to learn from OTHER PEOPLE'S mistakes, which is a much more fun way to learn.

1 comment:

Kate P said...

That is really crazy. I just went through a unit on plagiarism with my students and I tried to get them to think about the consequences. I asked them, "How do you think teachers will look at your work if you have plagiarized in the past?" It's not just a one-time event; it has lingering effects on your academic career.