Monday, December 26, 2011

Student Emailz

Dear Professor Monkey,

i actually got my computer fixed at best buy today and replaced my harddrive so i backed up all of my papers and projects from all term on a friends computer. while working on that backup project, i came accross to projects for you that i want to hand in.

deluded dumbass

Dear Deluded,
I am very pleased to learn that you have figured out the joys of backing up one's computer. This would have come in handy multiple times during the semester, as you continually lost your work and failed to come to class prepared. I was pained to enter your 43% section grade as it seemed impossibly low. Glory be! You will now be able to perform the bare minimum of students in future classes.

As for turning in your assignments, I have no idea why you feel you can turn in any late assignments at all, let alone assignments submitted the day after Christmas and ten days *after* your final grades were due.

Perhaps 2012 will be a better year for your attention to basic details and common sense.

Cold regards,
Academic Monkey


  1. This is when I wish this were face-to-face so I could laugh in his face. Seriously: this warrants a "hah--you're an idiot" out loud.

  2. *Face-palm* Oh, snowflakery at its best...

  3. This reminds me of two similar incidents.

    The first one took place during the mid-1970s, when I was halfway through my undergrad studies. In one course, our class wrote one of 2 mid-term exams (the first as I recall). The prof marked and returned it to us a few days later and we went through the solution before continuing with the lecture.

    Well, not quite. Although I wasn't privy to the details, apparently one of my classmates "forgot" to hand in his exam after the mid-term was over. It mysteriously appeared under the prof's office door...shortly after the solution had been written on the board.

    I knew something was amiss when, later on, I saw the prof having a heated discussion with the student in question. He soon disappeared from our midst and the rumour that I heard was that he had been given a permanent dean's vacation. As far as I could tell, none of my classmates felt sorry for him and I certainly didn't. The kid knew the rules and, like the rest of us, was expected abide by them. He should have been mature enough to take his lumps as, after all, there was at least one more exam as well as several lab sessions through which he could have redeemed himself.

    The second incident happened to me about 10 years ago while I was still teaching. I ran a service course for a different department and set a mid-term exam, which I marked and returned a few days later. Like the prof in the previous situation, I wrote the solution on the board and continued with the lecture.

    Sure enough, someone approached me afterwards and presented me with certain questions that had perfect answers and which he claimed I'd neglected to mark. He'd obviously written the material down after he got his exam back. I knew he was lying and he knew he was lying but I was compelled to give him the extra credit. If I hadn't, he would have filed a complaint against me and, considering how things were done in the institution where I taught, I knew I would never have been able to prove to anyone in charge that he had fibbed. The twerp not only got away with it, he passed my course and eventually graduated.

    I quit my teaching job several months later.

  4. Academic Monkey, thank you for reminding me to put a new notice in my next syllabus: "Back up your work early and often. Late assignments are not accepted, even if your computer crashed."

    Also, thank you for "Cold regards,..."

    re i_escaped: I understand that some institutions don't back up instructors in cases like this. At mine, we have some tools at our disposal:

    1. A department cheating policy that lists "changing exam answers after grading" as an offense. All students must sign it.

    2. Various practices such as drawing a line connecting the students' answers on each scantron form; drawing a line through each empty space on an essay exam; underlining and circling the incorrect parts of answers in an essay exam; keeping photocopies of exam answers as handed in, for comparison against claims of misgrading later.

    Some of these seem like excessive work to me, but enough of my colleagues have seen cases like yours that they're willing to take the time.

  5. @Eskarina:

    A number of my colleagues mentioned some of your suggestions to me after I talked about the incident as it was the first time that something like that happened to me.

    Somehow, I don't think any of those tactics would have done any good as I had serious doubts about whether anybody in charge would have backed me. For example, several students failed that course and yet, as I found out after I quit, they managed to graduate. Several more qualified for supplemental exams. The protocol was that they submit a request with the instructor to write them and I never turned anybody down. Yet none of them came to me and--you guessed it--they graduated as well.

  6. I routinely draw a line through any wrong answer or question left blank, as a precaution, but only because Iwas warned to do that by an older and wiser colleague.

    I deduct a percentage per day for late work, and this is on the syllabus, but I have had toadd a new line to the syllabus, "work handed in after the grades have been submitted will not be accepted". Though why they try I don't know, because they'll have lost so many marks by then it's worth practically 0 anyway.

  7. I just keep the Scantron forms or exams and keep a key in my office. I invite them to come to my office to get their original and check it via the key while I watch, but not with a pen or pencil in their hand. If they have a question I'll answer it. When they go, the grade is final.

    Nobody ever takes me up on this offer.

  8. I photocopy all Scantron forms, and keep them. I return the copies to the students.

    I started doing this just after an undergraduate education major (DANGER, Will Robinson!) used a Scantron machine available to her to create a forged Scantron form. She tried to use it to change her grade on a mid-term exam from a D to a B. I made the F that I gave her for the entire course stick. This was because, at the time, I was still keeping the copies, and returning the originals: she didn't know I was making the copies.

    Reminding students often that they're being watched noticeably reduces the number of attempts at cheating. This is also why, during exams, I bring a good camera with a big, old telephoto lens. I don't have to snap many pictures: the sight of me waving the lens around keeps them in line. I know, it's very Freudian.

  9. Oh Frod, employing the Panopticon to good use!

    Student has emailed me 3 times in the past 24 hours. After ignoring me all semester, he is suddenly desperate to learn his grade. Which is a D. Had he employed as much energy into homework as he has in bothering me for the past 24 hours, he might have gotten a really good grade!

    I had to send him a firmly-worded email that he had to stop emailing me about grades being posted. The University has a system for processing grades and they will be available whenever they are available.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.