Whether your academic year has ended or has almost ended, it might be a good time to ponder some of the challenges that tend to occur at the close of the academic year. Perhaps this is not the sunniest of topics, and there are certainly many things to celebrate and be pleased about at this time of the year. Many of us, however, are tired right about now, and perhaps some exhausted professors will find it mood-lifting to have a group wallow in the classic end-of-year annoyances before setting all that aside for a few months.
I was going to write these out as statements, but for reasons I can't explain, I feel a strange compulsion to write this as a test.
FSP 101: Spring 2009 Final Exam
Please answer the following questions completely, concisely, and correctly. Use only the space provided. Do not continue your answers in the margins in increasingly illegible script in the hopes that I will assume it is correct. For multiple choice questions, most questions have only one correct answer but some have no correct answer and some have more than one answer, only one of which may be listed.
1. What do you say when a student says: I thought the final exam was today but I guess it was yesterday.
a. Just let me know when it's convenient for you to take the final and I'll set aside a couple of hours for that.
b. Do you want to take the same exam as the rest of the class or shall I spend another 4 hours making up a special exam just for you?
c. You must feel so terrible about that, especially since getting a zero on the final is going to take a serious bite out of your already low grade.
d. Thanks for remembering eventually! Have a great summer!
e. (deep sigh.. long pause) I don't have much time, but if you can come to my office at [specify time], you can take the exam.
2. What do you say when a student asks: How close was I to a.. ? [fill in the blank with the next grade increment, letter or number].
a. Not close enough.
3. What do you do when the only thing standing between a failing student's graduating and not graduating now is your non-majors, distribution requirement introductory science class?:
a. You fail them. It's too bad that they failed the course, but they earned that F. You can't have special standards for seniors and you aren't willing to give a passing grade to every failing student just because some of the ones who failed want to graduate now.
b. You pass them. If they did (some/most of) the work and for whatever reason just can't (or won't) do science, they shouldn't have their graduation put on hold. Give them a passing grade and let them get on with their life.
4. What do you when your department chair says?: (i) I know the academic year is over but I think we should have one more faculty meeting, or (ii) I know the academic year is over and I shouldn't ask you do any service work over the summer but..
(b) No thanks
(c) Have fun and let me know how it turns out!
5. Essay question: Can grading cause brain damage?
I don't have an answer, but I will write a bunch of things that might be related to this topic and hope that my readers will sort through it and give me partial credit for anything that looks like I might know something about the topic.
Mostly, though, I have questions about this question. Has anyone done a study of people's motor skills and judgment before and immediately after doing a lot of grading? I am guessing there haven't been or else there would have been laws passed to prohibit operation of a motorized vehicle after grading. There would be regulations about how much time would have to elapse after grading certain quantities and types of assignments before you could safely drive a vehicle. This might be difficult to enforce, but there are probably biochemical or biophysical measurements that could be made that would indicate that excessive grading had occurred recently.
I don't even want to think about what would happen to someone who did a lot of grading and then went directly to a faculty meeting and then got some panicked emails from failing students.
6 years ago