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RE: [SACC-L] Let's Talk Excuses

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  • Hare, William
    I received an e-mail from the mother of one of my students asking permission for her daughter to miss the exam because her brother was returning from Iraq and
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 15, 2004

      I received an e-mail from the mother of one of my students asking permission for her daughter to miss the exam because her brother was returning from Iraq and they were driving down south to meet him.  So now I am unpatriotic if I refuse a makeup exam!

       

      How do you deal with students who may have a legitimate excuse, complete with documentation?  My problem with all of this is balancing my willingness to support the "whole" student with my desire to maintain academic rigor.  But, I don't want to become the judge/jury on which excuse is legit.

       

      Will Hare

       

      PS: "Professor Hare" gave into "Captain Hare (CT State Guard)" on the question of the makeup.

       

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Don Whatley [mailto:dwhatley@...]
      Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 11:11 AM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Let's Talk Excuses

       

      As instructors our first concern should be for our students.  If you are really interested in their welfare stop offering make up exams.  Years ago I got tired of the excuses and the hassles of make up tests and instituted a "No make ups allowed" policy.  The final exam score replaces the lowest of the other three test scores if it is to the student's advantage.  I did this for selfish reasons but it turned out to be one of the best things I could have done for the health and well-being of my students and their families.  Immediately they didn't get sick as often, their cars ran better, they had fewer wrecks and court dates, their grandparents, friends, and other relatives didn't die as often, there were fewer emergency surgeries, and the list goes on & on.  There are very few absences on test days anymore.  It works really well!

      Don Whatley

      Robert Muckle wrote:

      Anybody else in the drudgery of marking? I need an outlet. These excuses
      and pleas have all been recently presented to me.

      Yesterday, I got a type-written plea from a student to pass her for the
      course so her father wouldn't get mad at her (I didn't. If only she had
      put as much effort into the course as she did into her plea...)

      A student told me they deserved special consideration because she was
      an only child. She was serious. (I didn't.)

      A student who missed an exam telephoned me after the fact asking for an
      opportunity to plead her case. I set up a meeting to discuss it with her
      the next morning at 8:00 a.m. Upon arriving at my office the next
      morning, I saw that she was discussing something with a psychology
      instructor. A few minutes later the student comes to me, breaks down in
      tears, and lets me know that her best friend had been killed in a
      traffic accident two days before. So...I caved, and gave her the
      opportunity to write and alternate exam. Then...I go down the hall and
      ask the psychologist what the student was seeing her about. The
      psychologist told me that the student had told her that she missed the
      psychology exam because she just broken up with her boyfriend. (I failed
      the student).

      Anybody else got some interesting excuses or pleas?

      Bob





      Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc  (NOTE THE NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.



      Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc  (NOTE THE NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.


    • Pamela Ford
      You know, Don s strategy really works. I began teaching with a similar method. I was stunned that so many students thought that the exam could be taken at
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 15, 2004

        You know, Don's strategy really works.  I began teaching with a similar method.  I was stunned that so many students thought that the exam could be taken at their convenience.  The same is true for late work.  I don't accept it.  They know it.  I've had students thank me for that policy because it makes them do the work on time:  imagine that!

         

        We should commend Don for reducing the number of tragedies in his community!

         

        Pamela Ford

        Chair, Department for World Studies

        Mt. San Jacinto College

        1499 N. State Street

        San Jacinto, CA 92583

        800.624-5561 x 1533

        909.487-6752 x 1533

         

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Don Whatley [mailto:dwhatley@...]
        Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 8:11 AM
        To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [SACC-L] Let's Talk Excuses

         

        As instructors our first concern should be for our students.  If you are really interested in their welfare stop offering make up exams.  Years ago I got tired of the excuses and the hassles of make up tests and instituted a "No make ups allowed" policy.  The final exam score replaces the lowest of the other three test scores if it is to the student's advantage.  I did this for selfish reasons but it turned out to be one of the best things I could have done for the health and well-being of my students and their families.  Immediately they didn't get sick as often, their cars ran better, they had fewer wrecks and court dates, their grandparents, friends, and other relatives didn't die as often, there were fewer emergency surgeries, and the list goes on & on.  There are very few absences on test days anymore.  It works really well!

        Don Whatley

        Robert Muckle wrote:

        Anybody else in the drudgery of marking? I need an outlet. These excuses
        and pleas have all been recently presented to me.

        Yesterday, I got a type-written plea from a student to pass her for the
        course so her father wouldn't get mad at her (I didn't. If only she had
        put as much effort into the course as she did into her plea...)

        A student told me they deserved special consideration because she was
        an only child. She was serious. (I didn't.)

        A student who missed an exam telephoned me after the fact asking for an
        opportunity to plead her case. I set up a meeting to discuss it with her
        the next morning at 8:00 a.m. Upon arriving at my office the next
        morning, I saw that she was discussing something with a psychology
        instructor. A few minutes later the student comes to me, breaks down in
        tears, and lets me know that her best friend had been killed in a
        traffic accident two days before. So...I caved, and gave her the
        opportunity to write and alternate exam. Then...I go down the hall and
        ask the psychologist what the student was seeing her about. The
        psychologist told me that the student had told her that she missed the
        psychology exam because she just broken up with her boyfriend. (I failed
        the student).

        Anybody else got some interesting excuses or pleas?

        Bob





        Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc  (NOTE THE NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.



        Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc  (NOTE THE NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.


      • ninivaggic@georgian.edu
        I just save myself a lot of hassles with take home tests. I state very firmly that I won t accept late tests, but I always allow the class to set the due date
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 15, 2004
          I just save myself a lot of hassles with take home tests. I state very
          firmly that I won't accept late tests, but I always allow the class to set
          the due date when I pass out the take home. To their credit and my
          surprise, I've never seen them give themselves more than two weeks to
          complete even the most time-consuming essay tests. I come off as ever so
          fair and flexible, and the democratic due date method creates a sense of
          student responsibility to the whole class, rather some arbitrary personal
          date of mine.

          Cynthia
        • Robert Muckle
          I have had some interesting experiences with take-home tests. Occasionally I give a take-home final in an introductory archaeology class. I give one page of
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 15, 2004
            I have had some interesting experiences with take-home tests.
            Occasionally I give a take-home final in an introductory archaeology
            class. I give one page of detailed instructions followed by several
            pages of raw data, listed under categories such as botanical remains,
            ceramics, lithics, etc. The objective is to have students interpret the
            data (eg. reconstruct technology, diet, social organization, etc.). One
            time I am reading the completed exam from someone I thought was a fairly
            good student, but their intepretations just didn't make much sense.
            After giving it some thought, I found a copy of the test I had given a
            year earlier, and saw that she had done an excellent job of answering
            the wrong test. It turned out that upon receiving the take-home exam,
            she showed it to a friend who had taken the course from me before.
            Looking only at the cover page with the instructions, they surmised that
            it was the same test. Since the friend had received an 'A,' the student
            simply copied her friend's interpretations in their entirety. Had they
            bothered to look at the subsequent pages of data, they would have seen
            that all the data had been changed. She admitted that she did take a
            look at her friend's interpretations, but her excuse was that submitting
            the intepretations to last year's test was simply an accident and it was
            unfair to penalize her. She failed.

            Bob
          • Chidester, Dianne (Jefferson)
            One of the things I always have to remind my students is: Be sure to answer the question I asked! It sounds crazy, but sometimes they end up giving a very
            Message 5 of 12 , Apr 15, 2004
              One of the things I always have to remind my students is: Be sure to
              answer the question I asked! It sounds crazy, but sometimes they end up
              giving a very good answer to something that wasn't on the test!
              --Dianne

              -----Original Message-----
              From: Robert Muckle [mailto:bmuckle@...]
              Sent: Thursday, April 15, 2004 12:13 PM
              To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [SACC-L] Let's Talk Excuses

              I have had some interesting experiences with take-home tests.
              Occasionally I give a take-home final in an introductory archaeology
              class. I give one page of detailed instructions followed by several
              pages of raw data, listed under categories such as botanical remains,
              ceramics, lithics, etc. The objective is to have students interpret the
              data (eg. reconstruct technology, diet, social organization, etc.). One
              time I am reading the completed exam from someone I thought was a fairly
              good student, but their intepretations just didn't make much sense.
              After giving it some thought, I found a copy of the test I had given a
              year earlier, and saw that she had done an excellent job of answering
              the wrong test. It turned out that upon receiving the take-home exam,
              she showed it to a friend who had taken the course from me before.
              Looking only at the cover page with the instructions, they surmised that
              it was the same test. Since the friend had received an 'A,' the student
              simply copied her friend's interpretations in their entirety. Had they
              bothered to look at the subsequent pages of data, they would have seen
              that all the data had been changed. She admitted that she did take a
              look at her friend's interpretations, but her excuse was that submitting
              the intepretations to last year's test was simply an accident and it was
              unfair to penalize her. She failed.

              Bob


              Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc (NOTE THE NEW
              ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.
              Yahoo! Groups Links
            • Philip Stein
              I also eliminated makeup exams beginning last semester. It seemed that virtually all of my office hour time was spent in giving makeups. I added one additional
              Message 6 of 12 , Apr 15, 2004
                I also eliminated makeup exams beginning last
                semester. It seemed that virtually all of my office
                hour time was spent in giving makeups. I added one
                additional exam to the semester and let the students
                drop the lowest score. It has worked extremely well.

                Phil Stein
                Pierce College

                --- Don Whatley <dwhatley@...> wrote:
                > As instructors our first concern should be for our
                > students. If you are
                > really interested in their welfare stop offering
                > make up exams. Years
                > ago I got tired of the excuses and the hassles of
                > make up tests and
                > instituted a "No make ups allowed" policy. The
                > final exam score
                > replaces the lowest of the other three test scores
                > if it is to the
                > student's advantage. I did this for selfish reasons
                > but it turned out
                > to be one of the best things I could have done for
                > the health and
                > well-being of my students and their families.
                > Immediately they didn't
                > get sick as often, their cars ran better, they had
                > fewer wrecks and
                > court dates, their grandparents, friends, and other
                > relatives didn't die
                > as often, there were fewer emergency surgeries, and
                > the list goes on &
                > on. There are very few absences on test days
                > anymore. It works really
                > well!
                >
                > Don Whatley
                >
                > Robert Muckle wrote:
                >
                > > Anybody else in the drudgery of marking? I need an
                > outlet. These excuses
                > > and pleas have all been recently presented to me.
                > >
                > > Yesterday, I got a type-written plea from a
                > student to pass her for the
                > > course so her father wouldn't get mad at her (I
                > didn't. If only she had
                > > put as much effort into the course as she did into
                > her plea...)
                > >
                > > A student told me they deserved special
                > consideration because she was
                > > an only child. She was serious. (I didn't.)
                > >
                > > A student who missed an exam telephoned me after
                > the fact asking for an
                > > opportunity to plead her case. I set up a meeting
                > to discuss it with her
                > > the next morning at 8:00 a.m. Upon arriving at my
                > office the next
                > > morning, I saw that she was discussing something
                > with a psychology
                > > instructor. A few minutes later the student comes
                > to me, breaks down in
                > > tears, and lets me know that her best friend had
                > been killed in a
                > > traffic accident two days before. So...I caved,
                > and gave her the
                > > opportunity to write and alternate exam. Then...I
                > go down the hall and
                > > ask the psychologist what the student was seeing
                > her about. The
                > > psychologist told me that the student had told her
                > that she missed the
                > > psychology exam because she just broken up with
                > her boyfriend. (I failed
                > > the student).
                > >
                > > Anybody else got some interesting excuses or
                > pleas?
                > >
                > > Bob
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > Be sure to check out the SACC web page at
                > www.anthro.cc (NOTE THE NEW
                > > ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters,
                > etc.
                > >
                > >
                > > *Yahoo! Groups Sponsor*
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                >
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              • Lloyd Miller
                All of this delightful discussion (delightful because I don’t have to deal with it anymore) inspired me to review my Cultural Anthro. syllabus the last
                Message 7 of 12 , Apr 15, 2004
                  All of this delightful discussion (delightful because I don’t have to
                  deal with it anymore) inspired me to review my Cultural Anthro.
                  syllabus the last semester I taught, spring 2000. After trying about
                  everything imaginable over 35 years of teaching, I eventually arrived
                  at the following.

                  Student grades consisted of an average of four exams (including the
                  final) and an ethnographic report. Students could earn up to 5% extra
                  credit for good attendance (3 or fewer class periods missed; no
                  excuses—a miss was a miss irrespective of dead grandmothers or early
                  spring break departures). This significantly increased attendance,
                  since earning the full 5% could improve a student’s final grade by half
                  a letter, e.g., B+ to A-, etc.

                  Students missing one (but only one) of the first three exams could make
                  it up during the last week of classes. We were fortunate in that our
                  Learning Center would proctor makeup exams. Since most of the students
                  who missed exams never completed the course anyway, I only had one or
                  two per semester taking make-ups, sometimes none. Obviously, having
                  them wait until semester’s end to make up an exam was an intended
                  handicap and encouraged them to reschedule their various life tragedies.

                  I gave students two class periods past deadline to hand in their
                  ethnographies for a reduced grade and did not accept them after that.
                  Students missing the final exam got an F for the course (unless prior
                  arrangements were made) and had to make it up by the middle of the
                  following semester to erase the F.

                  My “exceptions” policy in the syllabus stated that I might make
                  exceptions to the rules in extraordinary circumstances (such as sudden
                  illness or accidents) if students notified me as soon as possible after
                  the onset of the misfortune. This was designed to separate those
                  students who breezed in after a two-week absence with the “Hey, I’ve
                  been sick, did I miss anything important?” comments from those who
                  might have genuinely needed a break.

                  My system was not perfect. I still had to “judge excuses”
                  occasionally. However, it did allow me to spend less time with
                  students who weren’t ready or willing to learn and more time with those
                  tried and cared.

                  Lloyd Miller
                  Des Moines Area Community College (emeritus)




                  On Thursday, April 15, 2004, at 12:22 PM, Philip Stein wrote:

                  > I also eliminated makeup exams beginning last
                  > semester. It seemed that virtually all of my office
                  > hour time was spent in giving makeups. I added one
                  > additional exam to the semester and let the students
                  > drop the lowest score. It has worked extremely well.
                  >
                  > Phil Stein
                  > Pierce College
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