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Monday, April 12th, 2004

Time Event
9:31p
A noun is a person, place, or thing

What's better than grading? Having the same student drop in more than once to ask when the grading will be done. This is partly my fault. Over the term I returned every assignment the class after it was collected; my students haven't had to wait more than a week before. Still, I told them I'd put a note up on the web site when I was ready; I don't know why they don't trust me.

But it's (now) done, except for a few students in numerical PDEs who asked for extra time for an assignment not as difficult as they imagine. The challenge was essay grading, once I filtered out the disgusting number (to my eye, that's any number more than two) of students who turned in a web page. I learned to check every essay at least on Google my first term, when four students turned in the same essay; don't students realize their instructors are not idiots?

And a strange phenomenon noticed: I'm considerably more likely to give an even number for an assignment than an odd one. That can be attributed to a subconscious bias when I'm grading something freeform like an essay, but why does it turn up when I'm working with a theoretically objective grade key? Is it worth doing an ANOVA study on my grading schemes? No, sadly, it is not, but I'll think about most anything rather than grade.

For my money, reading periods and exams are the best time to be on campus. All the support facilities -- libraries, canteens, the bookstore -- are open regular or extended hours, the busses run at normal frequencies, but the crowds are smaller, the faculty have time to give and attend talks, and office hours are easier apart from students asking if the last assignment is graded yet.

Trivia: In the 1650s London paid approximately 40 percent of the national total excise duty on beer. Source: London: A History, Francis Sheppard.

Currently Reading: One Two Three ... Infinity: Facts and Speculations of Science, George Gamow.

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