Midterm blues

This week is “Spring Break,” which is a misnomer on several counts.   First, it’s not even Spring yet; in fact, what with the threat of impending snow storms this week, it’s clearly Winter II: The Revenge.   Second, “Break” would imply that, well, I get one, but that’s clearly not the case.

I gave a midterm exam on Friday (Pi Day) to my Calculus II students, which meant I spent the next four days grading them.    Clearly, this is bad pre-Break planning on my part, and I accept that.   What I have a problem with is this: no sooner do I finish grading them  and posting the scores to WebCT do I get a phone call from an irate student about his grade.

Student: Yo, Dr. K.   I just saw on WebCt that I got a 36% on Exam II.   What’s up with that, yo?

Me: What?   I just entered those grades… Wow, that was fast… I’m sorry, what now?

Student: I don’t think I deserved that grade.   Can I, like, come in tomorrow and take a make-up exam or something?

Me: You want me to write you a special exam that I will administer and grade during my vacation so that you can improve your exam score?

Student: Yeah.

Me: And why should I do this again?

Student: Because I don’t think I deserved the grade I got.

Me: You haven’t even seen your exam.

Student: I still don’t think I deserved it.   I’m doing fine on the homework.

Me: How much of the homework do you do?   Do you work on the problems I give out each day, or just the weekly homework quizzes.

Student: I only get graded on the quizzes, so that’s what I do.

Me: Well, that’s not exactly…

Student: And I’ve been getting, like, sevens and eights out of ten on the weekly homeworks, so I should be getting a better grade on the exams.

Me: Ah, I see.   Do you think that your ability to get an average score on a single  weekly quiz consisting of only  four problems covering few pages of material while simultaneously being given  nearly unlimited time and unlimited resources to assist you in any way whatsoever  provides adequate preparation to successfully complete a ten problem exam covering an entire chapter of material in only fifty minutes with no resources to assist you whatsoever?

[ Long pause ]

Student: Well, I guess not when you put it like that.

Me: More to the point, what does it say about your mastery of the material if you cannot even score a nine or ten on a quiz of only four problems with unlimited time and resources?

[ Long pause ]

Student: …Maybe I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was…

Me: You need to do more of the daily assigned problems, and you need to really take these weekly quizzes more seriously.   That’s the only way to improve your exam scores in my class.

[ Long pause ]

Student: So, does this mean your not gonna give me a make-up exam?

[ Click and dial tone ]

I need a vacation.

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