Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not As Heartless As I Pretend to Be

I'm giving an exam this afternoon in the Calculus Circus. There really isn't time in the schedule to cancel class, and this year the calculus overlords have decreed that we shall be giving five midterms instead of four (and dropping the lowest grade).

Giving an exam today is not entirely unreasoable, as if you leave right after my class, you can probably get where you're going by 11pm if you drive. Or, if you realized back in August that I was giving an exam today, you could have bought a plane ticket and reached your destination by 7pm. (What if you can't afford to fly? Back when I was in college we had classes on Wednesday, too. People who couldn't make it home to be with their own families usually went to friend's family's Thanksgiving. A fair number of people didn't go anywhere.)

As I remind them about the exam on the Wednesday before Thanskgiving, I point out that the Student Assembly has representation on the calendar committee. I tell them that if they don't want classes the day before Thanksgiving that they need to pester their student government reps.

For the past few years, when I give exams on the Wednedsay before Thanksgiving (which is almost always because our syllabus is jam-packed with material, so I really need the day), I always schedule a make-up exam on Tuesday at 7 o'clock.

This year I was kind and chose 7pm instead of my usual 7am. Since the earliest classes start at 8am, I figure that most people can make 7am. Plus, I figure that having to take a math test at 7am comes with a bit of a built-in penalty, especially for students who are used to sleeping in until noon. Often upon hearing that the make-up exam is at 7am, my students discover a way to be able to make it to Wednesday's class. Quite possibly this involves lying to their parents.

Last night about 100 students in my class took me up on the offer of the 7pm make-up. I did get one noteworthy complaint, though. One student wanted me to find another time for him to take the make-up because he has a Tuesday night class. My reply politely pointed out that he also has a Wednesday afternoon class with an exam and that he could take my exam on Wednesday, take my exam on Tuesday, or have this exam be the one dropped exam.