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

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  • 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 1 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.
      > >
      > >
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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 2 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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