Monday, May 01, 2006

The Calm Before the Storm

Due to oddities of our academic calendar, things are pretty quiet right now. Classes ended on Friday, and exams don't start until Wednesday: the undergraduates are pretty hungover from the weekend and are now only starting to tentatively emerge into the sunlight.

I've written the final exam and have made photocopies. I've made one copy for every enrolled student, even though I am predicting that at least three students won't show up for the final. Two of them haven't taken any of the exams; one hasn't taken the past two midterms. A few others need more points than the final is worth in order to pass; they'd be better off studying for their other exams and signing up for summer school.

Assuming that my calculus students score about as well on the final as they have scored on the four tests, six problem sets, and 24 quizzes, it looks like my success rate* in calculus will be about 50%. This is low -- even for the math department. Working against me is the fact that 20% of the class either withdrew or stopped coming. Also working against me: this is Calc 1 in the spring.

The chaos around here should pick up once we get into the thick of exams. It's hard to tell the most panicked students at the last minute: it's too late; there's nothing left to do. And then the grade appeals come in. Students can see their grades as soon as they are entered into the online system; grades become official on May 16. I've decided not to accept any appeals until May 16. I don't imagine that I'm the only person with a lot of failing students, and I can't believe that all these failing students will accept their grades without a fight. Fill out the form, and I'll send you a memo.

*success rate = (number of students receiving a grade of C or better)/(all students enrolled in section, even those who withdrew)