Thursday, September 22, 2005


This week I am administering mineral tests. I can't even count how many of these I've given over the years. They are always the same: 2min per sample, an inordinantly long period of time for those who know it and seemingly an eternity for those who don't.
For the person administering the test, that would be me, it's 10 times more painful. Here's my job: stare at the students and my watch alternately, one for ensuring no cheating, and two for keeping time. Then at the 1 minute mark I say "one minute" and then 30seconds later I say "30 seconds" and finally at the 2 minute mark I say "switch". It's hideously dull, plus I usually end up giving FAR more than the students end up taking, especially with multiple lab sections.
Anyway, that being explained, the three mineral tests I gave this week went from great to bad to unbelievably horrible, no good, very bad, chaotic, painful, embarrassing, mortifying, excruciatingly unbearable.

Tuesday morning: students follow the directions, do the test, do well

Tuesday afternoon: students don't follow the directions, elect to invent names of minerals rather than use the list of possibilities I have written on the board, some do ok, many do poorly

Thursday afternoon: I arrive to the lab to find that some "clever" student, clearly wanting out of the test, has posted a sign on the door to the lab "class canceled" it said, "instructor is ill", along with the details of the course code, name, and my name of course - so that it would be official.
Naturally, the good students, the ones who arrived early to lab to do some last minute studying, saw the sign and left. The not-so-good students, the ones who typically arrive late, did not see the sign, since I took it down, and they are the ones who wrote the test.

Firstly, if someone wanted out of the test - they should've pretended that THEY were sick rather than post a sign. a) clearly I would notice the sign and realize that it wasn't real (oh wait, perhaps I AM sick, oops, what am I doing here today?) and obviously would know that a student was responsible. b) do you think it would put me in a BETTER mood having to find time to reschedule the test??? NO!!!! of course the make up test is going to be painfully impossible to punish the loser who is responsible for the crime. And that makes me mad too, because I am also punishing my good students who came early and saw the sign and then left. So of course, once the test is done today, I go to mark it. Seriously, it's like these students NEVER looked at the minerals before at all. Even though they had 2 full 3 hour lab periods to learn them under my tutilage and all the time they wanted between labs to come in and study. And then, it's like they weren't even looking at the minerals DURING the test - because even if they couldn't identify the mineral itself, they should have at least been able to recognize if it was metallic or glassy in appearance, or notice if it happened to be a perfect cube. But no, instead they not only don't look at the minerals DURING the test, they also don't bother reading the questions associated with them: what is the hardness of this mineral? "brownish". Since when is BROWN or any associated earth-tone considered to be a scale of HARDNESS????? I mean "hard" would have been a better answer. With the answers I was getting, I might have even given a mark for "hard". YEESH!

And that's the summary of that.


bek said...

Wow Nat! Those students are incredible... i've never heard of anyone actually posting signs like that to get out of a test. I would be completely livid as well. I hope things get better

Lulu said...

Wow. I know you must have been fuming, but this post definitely made me laugh out loud. If nothing else, at least your students are creative?? Can you please put a question on a future test like "please rate the hardness of this mineral on a scale of one to brown"?