Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oh, Pleeeeeze

If there is one thing that could not be clearer it is that people like us should not be burdened with writing exams or grading them. It is like asking a brain surgeon to repair a hang nail. It is for that reason that I use machine graded multiple choice exams. I try hard to keep the questions secret so they can be used each year but, if they leak out, it is not my problem.

I am way to busy doing research, planning summer programs and trips, playing tennis and getting massages to be concerned about some ill-prepared annoying students droning on about an issue he barely understands. I used to give essay questions. OK, more accurately, I almost gave them once which is effectively the same thing. Then I thought, "What will I learn from reading these?" Answer: Nothing. Then "How will this benefit me at all?" Answer: Not at all.

I have tried to talk some sense to professor of my ilk -- well-bred, well-trained -- but some still resist. Oh sure, sometimes there are complaints about my exams being recycled and machine graded but it is generally from students who are stubborn about not realizing what a gift it is to have me as a professor at all.

Dean Bumble has said nothing about it and for good reason. His philosophy of deaning seems to be based on multiple choice with the answer usually being "none of the above."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I Love the Students

No, I do not mean intimately. Well, there was one but that was before I married Caroline and it was when dating students was actually part of good teaching. In any case, those of us with proper breeding know how to handle such matters with discretion.

Now I did have the one student who claimed that she only got an A because of our intimacy and petitioned for the grade change to a B when our "intimacy" ended. The grading committee met and agreed that she had earned and A. I thought she probably did. I had not actually graded her exam but I know her father had attended Yale. So grading the test was waste of time.

But enough of that. Now several students from last summer's Italy program have complained about their grades. Can you imagine! Hugo and I arrange an international program that requires us to do all the international travel while mailing postcards to the students who can stay home and enjoy their studies while camped out on the beach or in their own snug rooms, and this is the thanks we get. It seems that several of them compared their answers on the multiple choice exam and found that they received different final grades even though they had the same answers. So what? It's not like anyone actually got below a B. Some got A's and some got B's and we played no favorites. I have told them that I do not regrade exams. And, it is true that this time I did not actually read them but I did assign grades based on my best professional judgment. I gave A's to those who had attended Ivy League schools as undergraduates and B's to those who did not. They act like academic freedom is a foreign concept.

I feel I migraine coming on. Coupon Coupon