Friday, March 30, 2007
I gave a test today (March 30) and four people missed it. One emailed in sick; three others were going on a university planned visit to a graduate program. On my syllabus, handed out day 1 of class, the test time was clearly listed. My syllabus also says that a test which is missed for a legitimate reason can be made up during the final exam period at the end of the semester. Now for the assumptions part.
A student representing the three trippers came yesterday (March 29) to tell me that they (the three) had decided to take the test next Tuesday (April 3) at 12:15. Oh how I longed for Spock’s ability to so deftly arch an eyebrow. When I informed the representative that this would not be possible, I received a rather dismayed “We’ll have to wait until after Easter?” (We’re off for Easter break on Thursday, April 5 and Friday, April 6.) I informed said representative that, “Well, yes,” and explained my syllabus policy about make-ups generally being given during final exam week.
The student who was ill was more flexible. Within the email informing me that she/he would miss the test was a notice that she/he’d be better on Monday and could take the test at either 10:00 or 2:00 that day.
There appear to be certain assumptions here on the part of the students, and I thought it interesting to consider what they might be.
1. My time is theirs. If giving them a make-up should require me to miss lunch, say, then that’s not a problem.
2. I can give the exact same test to those making it up as to those who took it at the scheduled time. Cheating is not a possibility to be considered.
3. If I do need to create a new test that is the “same but different” from the original, then that can be done largely at a moment’s notice and/or I will be happy to do it over the weekend.
4. Since they are missing the test, they suddenly become my highest priority. My need to grade the tests of the other students and to deal with various faculty issues is not a problem. In fact, I believe they assume that I have only my classes to deal with and all of my other time is free time.
The question naturally arises, where do these assumptions come from, and do they exhibit them anywhere else in their daily lives? I mean, surely they don’t have such assumptions about their doctor visits or their airline flights. The worst part is that when I explain to such students that, 1) I owe it to the students who took the test on time to grade their tests before I prepare make-ups, 2) developing a make-up test is harder than developing the original test because the make-up needs to be at the same level of difficulty but different, 3) that I give make-ups during final exam week because in the past I've found that as many as 1/4 of the students will miss a test if they think they can take it only a day or two late, and 4) that any make-up test will be given at “my” convenience, meaning I’m not missing lunch or giving up my Saturday to do it, they look at me like I’m mean.
All this got me to thinking about assumptions that people make about writers. My tomorrow’s post will deal with that.