You can lead a horse to college, but you can't make him think

Sorry about the long delay in posting anything, but this semester of teaching various calculi to students has been particularly grueling. The good news is that at noon today the Fall Semester (at least for me) came to an end, students having completed the final portion of the final exam for the final time. Part of my finals have always included a take-home exam consisting of challenging comprehensive problems, designed to show students how the various techniques of class can come together to understand the various aspects of large, open-ending problems. It’s designed to be challenging and it’s designed to be time-consuming, but I give students a week to work on it and remind them — everyday — for two weeks — to DEAR SWEET JESUS NOT WAIT until the last moment to complete it.

I am apparently too subtle, as evidenced by the following conversation I had with a student, who showed up in a funk at my office door ten minutes before the exam was due.

Student: Uh… yeah… Uh… Professor? You know that thing that’s due today?

Me: The comprehensive take-home portion of the final exam?

S: Uh…

M: The worksheet I handed out a week ago?

S: Uh….

M: The assignment due in ten minutes?

S: Uh… yeah.

M: Shoot.

S: Uh… You remember how I asked you last week about how I was doing in the class and stuff, ’cause I really need to pass it this time, ’cause this is like my third time taking it and stuff?

M: Yes.

S: Uh… ‘Cause you said I needed to get like a 90 percent on this thing to even pass the class and stuff?

M: Yes.

S: Uh… So I came in like Monday and asked you about it and you told me some sections in the book and stuff, ’cause they’d like help with them and stuff.

M: Yes.

S: Uh… yeah… Could you like tell me them again? I kinda forgot what you said last night, and I kinda need to start writing it and stuff.

M: In ten minutes?

S: Uh… yeah.

M: No.

S: Uh… But then I’m not going to pass.

M: No. I told you not to wait until the last minute.

S: Uh… yeah… But I totally had Bowling League this week.

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