Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Junior High Redux

I just gave a final exam to 100 college upperclassmen.

  • Ten of them showed up late (one over half-an-hour so).
  • Many of them had no calculators. Before the exam began I said, "If you didn't bring a calculator, you may write unsimplified expressions. If they are equivalent to the correct answer, you will receive full credit." During the exam three students came to tell me they didn't have a calculator and ask what they should do. One said, "Should I just write an estimate?" I said, "Write an unsimplified expression." He said, "So I can just write an estimate?" I said, "You can write an unsimplified expression."
  • One student had to leave during the exam to move her car because, she said, "I didn't know I'd be here this long." (The exam period was only about half over.)
  • At least five students turned in paper with the notebook fringe still attached, even though all their paper had perforation strips.
  • One student asked me mid-exam if one of his answers was correct.
  • Despite verbal instructions at the beginning of the exam and written instructions that stayed on the board throughout, a quarter of the students came to turn in their work without returning the exam paper with their names written on it.
  • Three students didn't understand the phrase "in keeping with."
  • One student pointed out a question that needed a bit of clarification. I stopped everyone and announced the clarification. I then had to repeat it 30 times over the next two hours in one-on-one conversations.
  • I've already had my first "I have to pass this class to graduate" post-exam e-mail.

But the students don't have a monopoly on unprofessional behavior. My exam period was to last until 3:50. Another class had an exam scheduled to begin at 4:00. At 3:45 a man came in, looked around in anger, and left again. At 3:48 he returned and said, "I guess you have a few more minutes." At 3:50 when I told the remaining students to finish, he came in. I said, "Do you teach in here next?" He said, "What?" I said, "Are you a student in here next?" He said, "I'm the professor of the next class." Students were coming to the front to turn in their papers. He said, "I have 100 students that need to come in here and get started." I was interacting with my students. He then called to his class in the hallway, "Okay, come in now!" He then said to me, "And if you have a problem with this, you can go right to the dean's office. My name is Dr. Brooks [real name, since he's a jerk] and I'm the director of my school." I gathered up the papers and placed them in my bag while he slammed some tables together. As I headed for the door he called to me, "My name is Brooks. I have students who have to take an exam." I said, "Why are you so beligerent? Your students can take their exam at 4. My students have the right to work until 3:50." But now that he had goaded me into arguing, he ignored me.

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