Saturday, October 9, 2010

Release...the Spleen!

A moment while I vent. I am hoping this will allow me to evaluate my students more objectively, instead of instinctively crushing their souls in a vice of red ink.

On Friday I gave an essay exam through Online Sucky Learning Software. The virtue of this approach, I reasoned, is it let me do an end-run around the whinging that happens if you have a class that falls right before Fall Break and/or on any kind of religious holiday. I figured it would allow students to take the exam when it best suited them AND still take it timed, meaning that everyone, cheaters or no, would have a fair shake.

Plus, I gave them five of the questions ahead of time and told them there would be three on the test, plus one new one. The test was open book, open note (read: cheat away, you little shits, because I already searched the interwebz and the test answers are not out there. If you pay someone to take this for you, more power to you my friend.) no particular order....the spleen.

CAPS-LOCK CAITLIN: I am not a technical support person. I do not give a shit that your laptop just died and you are going home to Daddy to get him to fix it. Sending an email to me that is all in capital letters suggests to me, on a subliminal level, that someone in my family died or that the federal government is calling in my student loans, due immediately. It does not suggest "Please help, professor."

Know-It-All Nancy: I am sorry that you felt the final question was unfair because we "didn't cover that material in class." Straight off, let me say we did cover it. And, I looked up your name and your photo, Nancy. During that class, you were wearing a black North Face fleece. You also have the misfortune of having REALLY BIG blond hair. That means that when you fall asleep in class and your head sinks into your fleece like some kind of turtle, I notice. You slept through the lecture where I answered this question. Granted, I answered it in a slightly different form, but I answered it. Now, it's possible that you learn best by drawing your neck down into your fleece, closing your eyes, and letting your purple flair pen make a big, big blot on in the middle of the notebook page but if that is the case...I think you might need a new learning strategy.

May I also suggest that emailing the prof your concerns thirty seconds after you submit the exam is not reeaaallly the best way to deal with your problem?

Dying Aunt/Grandma/Distant Relative With A Lot of Money Drew: Wow, it's really unfortunate that you were summoned to the bedside of your DRWALM right before our exam. It's also unfortunate that you confided in me that you had NEVER SET EYES ON HIM before. What? I mean, sure, there are some members of my family I don't know too well, but we have a strict "No leaving work until they are dead unless you are close" policy in my family. Obviously we are heartless bastards. It's fortunate that he's "made a mint" because then he can pay for your fifth year of undergraduate education. After he dies.

Save The World Samantha: Whoa, that's like totally groovy that you spent all that time like in Tibet? Like helping raise money for Uganda? That's awesome, hun. But may I suggest that your learning disorder and your penchant for jet-setting across the world with your philanthropist mum might not be the best combination right now? Maybe, like, you need to focus on one thing. I know, it just brings tears to your eyes thinking about the little poor children but let's just use this organic recycled Kleenex and dry our tears and do our goddamn work during the semester so that we can take our undergraduate degree and go do good outside of my class.

The Generally Moronic: I can't type it for you. I can't. I'm sorry. I can't make this easier. Really.

I am tempted to do two things. First, we are going to do an exercise in class on Wednesday where we take out a piece of paper. Then, we 're going to draw on it. First a circle, then a line through the circle, etc. We do this in primary school because it HELPS US LEARN TO FOLLOW FUCKING DIRECTIONS. Then I'm going to collect and grade it. Ooooooh yes. Yeessssss.

Second, I think that Know-It-All -Nancy is going to be summoned to my office where she will be asked to write three test questions that she believes would be "fair" and, if I am in a benevolent mood, we will talk about why those are "fair" and the original one was "not" and then she can write me 500 words on THAT. [In reality, i will probably just tell her that her classmates figured it out fine, but I'll say it nicely.]



  1. Yes, it was! I have 30 gradflakes who would flunk the draw-a-circle test. When asked what I do for a living, I say, "I repeat myself."

  2. Shouldn't a good test include some material that wasn't covered, at least directly, in class, but can be figured out using skills, principles, approaches, etc. that *were* covered?

  3. With all the technical problems you folks who teach online courses are held responsible for, even though it isn't your job, there is no way I will EVER willingly consent to teach an online course. Thanks for all your postings of your distress: I had to learn to avoid teaching summer classes the hard way.


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