Saturday, May 19, 2012

Disappearing Student

Why is it that the student who is so desperate to "fix" his grade by handing in "forgotten" work that "I know he did; he showed it to me" that he sends me three emails in the space of five minutes disappears the moment I reply "okay, send it along right away by return email; there might still be time to change the grade before the registrar's site makes it final"?  The email system suddenly developed a serious time lag, or my message fell into a time/space warp, or something along those lines, right? 

P.S.  Hope he doesn't read CM., since this falls under the category of real-time blogging.  On the other hand, given the time of year, what are the chances that several dozen, if not hundreds, of proffies out there had a similar experience today?  I guess the only question is whether those proffies, like me, are a little too soft (and/or weighed the options of finishing the matter vs. dealing with whining emails and possibly a grade challenge over the coming weeks, and decided in favor of finishing the matter).  In any case, it beats hitting "refresh" on my inbox.  Stupid me; I thought he was actually going to send it.


  1. The message fell into a subspace vacuole, but is safe and sound at Jupiter Station. Lt. Barkley will be forwarding it to you at any moment now. Concerns can be sent via subspace to

  2. Are you sure you're not me?

    Anyway, with the email evidence in hand, any whining on their part to higher authorities can easily be dealt with: "I tried to give Flaky an opportunity, but it flaked."

    1. @ahistoricality: I'm pretty sure not, but there have been suggestions that this blog is the result of some odd form of multiple personality disorder on the part of one or a few people, and, after 15+ years of contingent labor, I can't really vouch for my sanity. The view out my window, which is fairly place specific, does seem to confirm that I'm not in Oxford, Ohio, if that's any help.

      And in other news, still not a peep from Flaky (but other signs that the email system is working just fine; I'm having an extended email exchange with another student about how weighted averaging works in general, and why she gets 9.5 rather than 10 points toward her final grade if she got a 95 -- the maximum possible grade, an A -- in participation. The idea of a grading scale that for all practical purposes tops out at 95 -- something I now mention on the syllabus, following similar exchanges -- does not seem to be getting across).

    2. ContCass ... I recently had a similar black hole moment.

      TO: Me
      FR: Flaky McFlake-Flake

      RE: My Grade

      Why didn't I get any credit for your class? I submitted all the work. I deserve better.

      TO: Flaky McFlake-Flake
      FR: Me

      RE: Your grade

      I'm not sure where you came to the conclusion you completed "all" the work. I have no record of receiving your final project or one of the mid-term intermediate assignments. Omitting these items, you did have a pretty solid grade for participation and other assignments, but as these two items accounted for 35% of your grade, their absence made it impossible to pass unless you had 100% perfect grades on everything else (which you did not).



    3. Well, I'm not in Oxford, either, so that's no help, but I'm also not an adjunct.


    4. @ah: well it seems that the alters, if they exist, may occupy different academic ranks (presumably the splitting is a result of trauma brought on by dealing with academic employment in the first place,and the various stages linger). But I don't think there's a way for them to be in different places. On the other hand, I guess there's no way to confirm that we're not in the same place without one of us mentioning the place we *are* in. So I guess we'll just have to live with the uncertainty, which has never bothered me, but there seem to be a few people out there very much determined to prove that our numbers are very small.

  3. CC - Give Flaky a few minutes. After all, Flaky didn't think there'd be a real-time exchange and now Flaky needs to buy the assignment somewhere, or copy-paste a Wikipedia article. Then it takes a few minutes to clean up the fonts.

    1. Geez, AdSlv ... it boggles my mind that the Flake-o-sphere still hasn't caught on that cutting-and-pasting a Wikipukia article will include embedded live links to a reference section which, of course, is not not part of their paper.

      They can update their status using one hand, while doing a keg stand, and singing karaoke, but they still can't figure out how to paste plain text.

  4. And 24 hours later, with plenty of other student emails received, answered, and the answers in some cases acknowledged (and/or met with further inquiry/protest), not a peep from Flaky. The real kicker -- the missing piece of work is a preparatory step to a project that he *finished.* So he already has the material in hand, or should. Hmm. . .maybe I should be wondering where the project came from in the first place? I actually do have reason to think he did it himself, for reasons I won't go into here for fear of their being a bit too identifying. My best guess? He's somewhere where he can use his phone to check grades on the LMS and bug me via email, but doesn't have access to his files (even though I strongly recommend that they use some sort of cloud backup system). Maybe there are downsides to phone-based internet access after all?

    And I think I *may* have succeeded in explaining the concept of a weighted average to the student who really, really wants her B+ to be an A-. I had to do the math by hand (well, calculator), and play the old "I've been doing this for so long I used to have to do it by hand, and know how" card, but I think (hope) the matter is at rest. At the very least, I've convinced myself that I'm not missing a problem which she caught. And the email I sent is sufficiently firm but kind/fair to pass muster with my chair, should I need to share it.

  5. "Dear Keener,

    so sorry only one of us passed grade 11 math. Try Khan Academy. Until then, you'll just have to trust me.



  6. This is right up there with students who email a "request" for something and then never check back, assuming you will comply with their request, such as "I'm not going to be in class today for the big midterm. Is that OK?" And then they suddenly develop an allergy to email, never having received my response of: "NO, that is not OK. Get yourself to class right now or risk an F."

  7. This anecdote isn't worth a post of its own, but I have to share. I teach full-time-part-time online and, meanwhile, I'm back in school getting yet another degree. So I deal with students about my age (20s-50s) in my online classes and, several times per week, I'm in "live" class with students generally half my age. So yesterday I'm sitting there waiting for class to start. Various conversations going on. Prof at front preparing to begin. In walks student, goes up to prof and says, "I wasn't here last week. Did I miss anything?" God, I wanted the prof to say, "No, of course not. Since you weren't here, we decided not to cover any new material and just had coffee together instead." The real response was drowned out by other noises. I had heard here at College Misery about this question being asked, but I had never experienced it. I had to make an effort to keep from giggling.


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