Monday, December 16, 2013

RBOC: Liveblogging the final exam

I'm proctoring.  I'm bored.  So.
  • There is a noticeable scent of Axe body spray in the air this morning as CBU students begin their exam week.  I wouldn't be surprised if a few of the boys are putting it on as a talismanic gesture in preparation for an exam, but the smart money is that they stopped showering days ago and believe that a rampant chemical stench will cleverly disguise their poor finals-time hygiene.
  • It fascinates me to observe the varieties of boots that students wear for winter weather.  This can be broken down in several ways:
    • Men very rarely wear boots.  It is sneakers, loafers, or bust around here.  How they avoid pneumonia is more than I can say.  (Of course, I write this with some decidedly non-boot oxfords on my feet, so maybe I should shut up.)
    • Women are all about the boots here.  Sure, there are the usual Uggs and Bean boots, but there's an impressive array of alternative styles on display — most of them, to my eye, fashion boots rather than actual heavy-weather gear.  (I sure hope you waterproofed those nice leather boots, sweetheart.)  
    • Speaking of the Bean boots, I am amused to see how many of those look absolutely, flawlessly new.  And expensive.  You don't get hot pink or fur-lined duck boots cheap.  (To say nothing of hot pink and fur-lined.)  I wonder if the owners ever actually walk in such fancy footwear any further than the distance to the dining hall.  I mean, yes, the shoes are cute, but wear the damn things!  Buying something with a lifetime guarantee motivates me to test its endurance, not baby it.
  • Given how lazy time-inefficient some of the students have proved at semester's end, and how much I've heard colleagues grumbling about catching plagiarists of late, I'm really glad that the heavily weighted final assignment in my intro classes is an in-class exam.  It's simply not possible to plagiarize such things without flat-out cheating like a first grader.  In my grading rubric, even a disastrously failing exam earns a positive integer of some kind, which makes even flaming idiocy earn a higher grade than dishonesty.
  • My, it's warm in this classroom.  My stylish professorial four layers are perhaps a bit of overkill in here.
  • Including the awesome red lambswool sweater I'm wearing.  Have I mentioned that I've been stocking up on nice grown-up clothes ever since Black Friday?  I'm aiming especially to vary my color palette, since the dark greys and browns are starting to depress me.
  • Oh man, I have to go to the bathroom.  It's just unavoidable after my morning coffee, you know?  But can I trust all of these students not to whip out notes the moment I step out?  Probably not.  Oh dear.
  • A miracle! Out of bladder desperation, I ran to the men's room for a few minutes, and when I returned, no one was cheating!  They didn't even look like they had frantically dug out their notes and then thrown them back in the bag as I walked in.  SO relieved, for multiple reasons.
  • I'm a little surprised to see how long this exam is taking my students.  I had estimated one and a half to two hours to complete it, but most of them look on track to take the full three hours.  Good student and poor student alike seem to need more time than I expected to write the whole thing.  Unprecedented.
  • This probably has something to do with the fact that this is the first exam I've ever written without any multiple choice questions at all, and heavy emphasis on essays.  They really get to show their stuff on this exam, and with no softball questions, they have nowhere to hide. 
  • Somehow I find it distasteful to see students chewing gum as they write exams.  It always reminds me of the scene in The Bird Cage when Nathan Lane disparages a gum-snapping dumb bunny of a dancer.  But it's just not appropriate to say to a student, "Sweetie, you're wasting your gum."
  • Fifteen minutes to go, and half of the class is still writing.
  • OMFG why haven't they finished yet?  Why can't I go to my office already?  I think time itself may be bending around some kind of black hole created by the energy of my students' brains working on overdrive.  What if they reach critical mass and we're all crushed to death by the pressure of the implosion?
  • It would really suck to be crushed to death in a black hole before I've had my lunch.
  • Oh, students, I see you turning in exams with questions left blank. *facepalm*  Don't you understand that you're sacrificing at least the possibility of points that way?  Nothing comes from nothing.  It frustrates me to see good students screw themselves that way.  Is it a point of honor for them that they don't try to bullshit?  I supposed I understand that way of thinking, but surely they can see for themselves that this is mathematically damaging to them.
  • Then again, considering all the boneheaded questions I endure every semester about GPAs and maximal final grades, maybe they're even worse at math than they are at pseudology.
  • DONE!!
  • Now I have a full ninety minutes to enjoy before I have to do the whole fucking thing again for the other section of Intro to Pseudology.  Sigh.


  1. maybe they're even worse at math than they are at pseudology

    Ding ding ding, we have a winner. Seriously, I've had to explain "anything is better than a zero" so many times to students...

    I found this amusing as hell, so thank you for that. I just realized I have 15 ungraded papers left for a class I thought I was "almost done." *weeps copiously*

  2. I gave my first final today. Students have an hour and fifty minutes. First student was out of the room in 20 minutes, last student in 45 minutes. Average grade was an 85. I am impressed by the class

  3. Wow. I can't believe they took so long to take the test. Then again, if they were writing it by hand, they probably had a much harder time than if they were typing it. I gave a half short-answer test in Humanities recently, and with only ten minutes to go, 3/4 of the class was still working on it. It made me nervous for them. Many of them ended up running out of time, several questions blank. So much for that.