Silly Student Tricks
“I do not know of any, excepting the unpardonable sin, that is greater than the sin of ingratitude.” ~Brigham Young
Student: This assignment is worth 25 points?
S: But I thought the original assignment was worth 35 points.
M: It was.
S: ... But this is only worth 25 points.
M: That's right.
S: ... It's not worth as much as the original assignment.
M: No, it isn't.
S: Well, I don't think that's fair. The makeup should be worth as much as the original assignment.
M: But it's not. If you want the full points, you need to do the assignment when it's due from now on.
S: Well, I don't think that's fair.
M: You didn't bother to do the original assignment, but now you want the same points as all the students who did. How is that fair?
S: ... Well, I still think it should be worth the same number of points.
M: I'm sure you do.
For the curious, the student in question still hasn't turned in the makeup assignment as of this writing.
Student: (reading the assignment) I don't know, this looks like a lot of work for only 25 points.
Me: If it's too much work, you can keep the zero you have now. I don't mind.
I had another interesting conversation with one of students who actually did the makeup assignment. Unfortunately, he didn't really pay attention to the instructions on the handout--the same instructions I read aloud to the class the day I offered the makeup assignment. Specifically, he missed the part about the paper being typed or written neatly in ink. He showed up after school on Thursday with his report obviously written in pencil. The following ensued:
Student: Here's my makeup assignment, Mr. M.
Me: Is it written in ink?
S: ... No.
M: Then I can't accept it. It needs to be written in ink.
S: (gives me a frustrated look)
M: Look at the assignment description. Read that bottom paragraph, right there. It says the assignment must be typed or written in ink.
S: (reads, mutters under his breath)
M: Hey, don't get mad at me because you didn't read the directions. I told you it had to be in ink.
S: ... But why does it have to be in ink?
M: Because that's how I assigned it.
S: (angry look)
M: Look, if you want to turn it in in pencil, I'll take it, but it'll be worth less points.
S: How many?
S ... Fine.
Interestingly, this student had actually done the original assignment but had done poorly on it. He was doing the makeup as a way to improve his grade. And he did...from 14/35 to 16/35.
The last installment of this story (so far) came last night as I was readying midterm grades. I got an instant message on my computer from my school's library/tech/computer guy. Our conversation went something like this.
Library Guy: Is _____ in your class?
Me: Indeed he is.
LG: And he has an atomic structure scientists paper due sometime soon?
M: Yesterday, in fact, but I'll still take it if he gets it to me tonight.
LG: He's here in the career center copying and pasting his 'paper' from other articles.
M: Then I guess it doesn't matter when he turns it in, he won't get any points for it.
LG: Wanna watch?
So Library Guy remotely accesses my computer and opens a window where I can see exactly what's happening on the student's screen in real time. It was so cool! I watched for several minutes as the student copied stuff over and adjusted the formatting to make it look like it was all the same document. (Admittedly, I've had students who weren't even clever enough to do that. It makes it really easy to spot plagiarism when the stolen parts are in a different font.)
The student showed up in my room several minutes later, faux report in hand. I took a cursory glance at it and told him I wouldn't take it. I told him to go home and write a real report over the weekend and submit it to me on Monday. Surprisingly, I got no argument from him. It's as if he knew that I knew. We'll see if the next one is any better.
Anyway, I'm posting another online assignment on Monday. It'll be interesting to see if these experiences make the students any more motivated to get this one done on time. I hope that they will...but I'm not willing to bet on it.
I love that I don't have problems like this with my Honors or AP students. Usually.