austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

As a trade-in for a name upon the door

When I collected the seating assignment, exam questions, and answer books for my class I thought my fears of something going wrong in the programming final were settled. I then made a foolish mistake, one I might have caught before I started passing out the booklets a half-hour before the exam. I expected I would have 184 blue booklets for my 92 students. In fact, I had 75 booklets. The sheet of general information included contact numbers (there's a phone in each venue) that either were unanswered or were wrong. Happily, I had my teaching assistant to get more booklets, but, sheeeeeesh.

The exam was given in five classrooms merged into one by folding up partition walls, making an enormously long set of columns of students. To solve the problem of communicating across those distances they set up a microphone and speaker; the speaker was by where I'd stand, so I could either go unheard by the back third or be lost in feedback. Probably it's just normal student announcement-processing abilities that after I announced to skip problem 2i -- problem two was a set of true-false questions so the problem wasn't as long as it seems -- and wrote that instruction (``SKIP 2i'') on two boards, students raised their hand to ask what I had announced about problem 2. (2i was great, though: not only did I fail to make it an intelligible question, I failed to make it a question at all, and there was no way to edit what I did write so it'd be a question one could sensibly ask.) Similarly after announcing a close parenthesis had been omitted from problem 3b, I got five students in a row -- almost literally -- asking about the close parenthesis on 3b. I think my favorite is the student who wanted to know what I meant by ``count all the vowels'' in a problem asking for a routine that reads in a string and counts all the vowels in it. I love students.

The other fine thing about the exam, though, was I finally could force all my students to take back their uncollected homeworks. Someday I've got to do an analysis on students who collect their homework during the term and those who don't and see if there's any difference between their scores. I just hope I don't end up with huge classes like this next term, since the pile of uncollected homework that I brought to the venue was larger than the pile of questions and answer booklets I had. Of course, that brings up the booklet issue again.

Trivia: The article on electricity in the 1797 Encyclopedia Britannica ran 120 pages, with 86 diagrams. Source: An Entertainment for Angels, Patricia Fara.

Currently Reading: Ludwig Boltzmann: The Man Who Trusted Atoms, Carlo Cercignani.

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