Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pick Your Battles: End of the Semester Edition

We are not supposed to give "bonus points." That being said, people do it anyway.

One of the grad students has put an absurdly insidious bonus problem on a calculus exam. It involves sneaky things with logarithms and the chain rule, a limit, and an iterated integral. In Calculus Lite, not Real Calculus.

The calculus coordinator is freaking out about this.

I'm thinking that this is a problem that solves itself. There aren't supposed to be any bonus points. No students will get this problem correct. Problem solved.

I'm much more worried about the rumor that one of the grad students gave 15 bonus points to someone who brought doughnuts to class. The last thing we need is rumors like that circulating.

Secret message to our students: Math classes taught by grad students tend to end up with lower grades than the same courses taught by lecturers. Some of the grad students are just too much in love with delightful problems. Some of the rest are having power issues. Some feel powerless because they have no control over their lives and are doing poorly at their own classes and need to demonstrate power (and their self-belief of their superior mathematical skillz) in the only venue they have, their class. Some of the rest were picked on by business majors when they were undergrads. Some of the rest really don't believe that it's possible for an educated person to be as bad at algebra as the students who attend this university.