Saturday, November 17, 2012

If I could only learn how to communicate better. Horrible Meanie Prof Lays It Out.

Samantha Snowflake,

The syllabus said:
"You may ONLY use pencil, paper and straightedge during exams."

The Grading Guide said:
"You may ONLY use pencil, paper and straightedge during exams."

The Academic Integrity and Professionalism Guide said:
"Using anything OTHER THAN explicitly authorized items during exams is cheating – no exceptions."

The signoff sheet that you signed ("I have read and understand the course policies . . ." ) said
"You may ONLY use pencil, paper and straightedge during exams.".

The posted PowerPoint presentation from the day before the exam said:
"No calculators - you may ONLY use pencil, paper and straightedge during the exam." I displayed it in class. I also read it in class. Out loud.

The front page of the exam sheet, at the top, said:
"Pencil, paper and straightedge ONLY. No calculators"

I must apologize: that's ONLY seven different times you were told; clearly that was not enough. Maybe I should have mentioned it several times in every class meeting? Maybe I should have called your mother the night before so that she could remind you? Because when you used a calculator during the exam, I called you up on academic dishonesty charges, and gave you a zero on the exam, and dropped your course grade by one letter, exactly as I said I would in the syllabus .

And I am so, so sorry that when you appealed your grade, the faculty on the hearing panel were suppressing giggles when you said you were "unaware" that you couldn't use a calculator on the exam, and that I had made you a "pariah" in the department. And the Dean, what a jerk when he agreed with the hearing panel that you "got off easy."

I really hope that I have not destroyed your entire life and professional career, because that would make me feel like I was cruel to you or something. Maybe I'll learn how to be a better communicator – state all of my policies every day? - so that you won't have to endure such unfair treatment when you take class from me again next semester.

Ms. Horrible Meanie Prof


  1. You told them seven times? Isn't one notice in the syllabus and one on the exam paper itself sufficient?

  2. Nice outcome. It's always good to see the system work properly.

    Although I am rather impressed that the student seems to know what "pariah" means. I'd be willing to bet that 90 percent of my students wouldn't have a clue.

  3. Ignorance of the "law" is no excuse. I'm glad you had good back-up.

  4. Some students just don't read instructions. You can put them in uppercase letters, bold, underlined, and with sparkles and they still won't read them. Despite every effort you make to remind them of the instructions, you will still have a small percentage of students who don't follow the instructions and then cry foul when they suffer for it. *sigh*

  5. Did she also claim you'd deliberately set her up and had it out for her? That would go along with my experience of such behavior.

    Great job of getting support from your academic team :o). I'm glad they were supportive to you.

    You know what pisses me off, though? The time, energy, and soul-sucking force that drains me when I go to work these days because I know someone, some jackoff, is going to pull this kind of shit. I'm always on guard to make sure I'm covered because no longer can I rely on ONE notice or at least two (a verbal and written one) to warn students. Now I have to have multiple backup notices and reminders just to be covered. THe syllabus isn't enough? And the instruction sheet isn't enough? Grrrrrr.

  6. Once I wore a T-shirt reminding students that their research papers were due for the next class session. Out of 25 students, 5 submitted papers. A few whined, "But you didn't remind us!"

    1. Wait, you have to explain this one. You had a t-shirt made for this particular reason??? I'm intrigued.

      I fear I'm not this dedicated, nor do I want them looking at my chest that closely...

    2. Dona Furiosa, I love your name and your story.

      CC, I love your response. All it takes is a blank T-shirt and a packet of ink-jet iron-on transfer paper, sold at most office-supply stores. I once used it to put some glow-in-the-dark political slogans on panties, but that's another story. (Not that I showed them to students.)

      How about an "RTFS" T-shirt for everyday wear, and a "No Calculators" one for special occasions? I'd probably get it in a huge size and put it on over a regular shirt.

    3. Proffie Galore, great idea: RTFS merits a t-shirt.

      I've tried the ink-jet transfer paper. It never works for me. I fear I'm relegated to doing ONE thing well in life, and so far, I haven't figured out what that is. :o)

    4. You're pretty good at blogging.

      Tip: 100% cotton takes the transfers best.

  7. The culture of most colleges nowadays is that our prof above has done the RIGHT thing. We're supposed to meet the student "where they are," which is apparently in middle school.

    I know if I told some of my colleagues this, they'd say, "Well, it never hurts to remind them again!" We're being trained by the new administrators (so eager to keep enrollment up) to keep our students engaged and traveling through the system, even if we have to babysit and prod.

    College is - I hate to say this - doomed.

  8. Wow. What a cheering story of the triumph of good over evil. It's so good to have a happy ending every once in while!

  9. I've got a similar policy because I never use above 4th grade arithmetic on my tests. I once had a guy dive for his bag, I repeated the policy, and he whined to a very quiet room:

    "But, I can't multiply!"

    I shit you not.

    1. If only that were true in the Darwinian sense.