January 30th, 2009


Fifty-One Fail

I Suppose It Has To Happen Sometime

Today was my Exam 1 day for all three of my classes -- two sections of PHYS-2070 (Electricity & Magnetism, Calculus level) and one PHYS-1150 (E&M, Algebra level). It's busy, but it's been fun so far. I had hoped to spend my 2-4pm block of back-to-back exams doing some writing. Alas, twas not to be. Had a fire to enrage and then put out.

I'm in my 51st semester of teaching. Exams are both good things and bad. But if you're going to go ahead and give exams, you've got to take them seriously. And sometimes someone is going to take them way too seriously.


One thing I do after everyone starts is to take the remaining stack of papers and start numbering them from N downward, where N is the number of copies made. Then I count Students In Chairs, usually twice to check for errors. Then I ask if there are any extra papers out in the room -- and if there are, I ask "Why?" (grin)

This class had 70 copies made. My own count accounted for 68. Sure enough, there was one up in the "stands", which was brought down. Then the unbelievable.

"This Guy Left With One"

Say what? What do you mean someone took an exam and walked out with it? Why that would be cheating!

I asked if anyone knew the miscreant. Didn't really expect an answer. Then I suggested that if anyone did know who it was, that after the exam they should have that person contact me as soon as possible. Before it was reported to the Dean.


I have a report that a student left with a copy of the PHYS-2070 Exam
at the start of the 2pm class. 70 copies were made and I can only place
69 of them. The conclusion is that someone has stolen a copy of the exam.


If the person who stole the exam contacts me immediately, I may not fail
them or forward their name to the dean for disciplinary action.

If you know who this person is, please tell them to come forward immediately.

There will be NO Make-up Exam 1's on Monday, as I have to write a totally
new Make-Up exam. The stolen exam will be useless to the person for the
purposes of cheating.

I am not pleased. -- Dr. Phil

A Folded Piece Of Paper

In between classes a student brought me a folded copy of the 2pm exam and confessed that he had taken it and left. One of his buddies had told him to turn himself in, that "Dr. Phil was pissed". Seems the student was terrified of failing the exam. I ended up giving him a copy of the Noon exam and told him to take it right then and there.

Last semester I suspected that some ringers were coming into the back of the big lecture hall and taking the astronomy exams for others, because they didn't stay for the lecture after the exam. Of course, it turns out that some students figure that in a big lecture class like that you just have to cram the books and screw going to the actual class, so maybe it was nothing. I've added procedures to deal with these things.

But I was always such a goody two-shoes in my life, that cheating is totally foreign to me. While I am wily and wise to the ways of others, I do wish my ideal was a little more widespread.


Dr. Phil