Sunday, December 12, 2004

Student Stupidity Part I

So, mean professor that I am, I gave an exam to my intro students the week of Thanksgiving. Naturally, a couple of students approached me prior to the exam to rearrange times to suit their schedules (not of concern to me). One student left a voice message for me the day of the exam saying that her 'ride' was leaving and that were she not in that car she would not make it home for Thanksgiving.

I blew it off for a few days.

Then, the class after the exam I was covering their results and going over the answers when student-in-question walks in (late). Of course, I don't recognize that she is the student-in-question until afterwards when she comes up to me wondering when she can take the exam (after having sat through all of my explanations and answers).

Now I am in a quandry. Do I not let her take the exam and get a zero? Do I give myself extra work and write (and grade) a new exam? The original exam was good (in my opinion). This semester I'm trying to get my students to really think about Big Ideas and to be able to leave the class being able to talk about complicated topics, not just be able to define "opportunity cost" or whatever. Here's the first (and hardest question) on the exam:

In class we discussed to ways to allocate education in the United States: through public means (this is the current way that we allocate resources toward schooling. Nearly 90% of kids in America get educated through public schools) and through private markets.
Compare and contrast these two ways of allocating resources for education. What are the pros and cons of each allocating mechanism? What are the justifications for using one allocation mechanism over the other?

I decide to do this: give her the exact same exam.

How do you think she did? (Remember, she SAW me give them ALL of the answers).

She failed miserably, given the same criteria on which I graded the rest of the class.

I'm dedicating this post to my Ph.D. advisor's dog, Waldo, who passed away last Thursday. He was an amazing dog. One of those dogs that seems almost human. No. Better, more compassionate, loving and forgiving than a human. I used to watch him once in a while when they were out of town and he would literally play hide-and-seek with me. We'll miss you Waldo.

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