Someone Failed Here, And It Wasn’t The Student

, , , , , | Learning | July 7, 2020

In 2014, I was a mature student in my final year of a part-time Computer Science degree. The final year involved a software development project which ran over two semesters and all students were allocated an individual Project Supervisor, who helped us develop the project and gather requirements, etc. We also had a Project Coordinator, who we were timetabled with once per week, and who was supposed to guide us through managing the project and writing our dissertation.

During the penultimate week of the autumn semester, our Project Coordinator was going to great lengths to prepare us for our first milestone, a presentation showcasing our project and the work we had done to date. She repeatedly emphasised that we must not fail the presentation part of the module; otherwise, we’d fail the whole course.

I suspect this was an embellishment on her part, but still.

We were supposed to upload a copy of our presentation to the Online Learning Environment used by the University no later than the night before the presentation, and then we’d do the presentation during class time the following evening.

That week, I finished off my presentation, and on Sunday evening, I sat down and uploaded it to the Online Learning Environment — OLE. The way the OLE worked, when you uploaded something, you’d get a green icon on the screen with a message that said, “Your document, [Title], has been uploaded,” but for some reason, you wouldn’t get an email confirmation.

I uploaded my document and got the green icon as I usually did, so I closed my browser window and went off to do something else. On Monday night, I did my presentation, which the assessors all said was excellent. They even scored me quite highly in it — above 70% — which I was pleased about.

On Tuesday evening, I got an email from the Project Coordinator. She informed me that she had discovered I “hadn’t uploaded” my presentation, and therefore, she was going to fail me. She informed me that “she had told us several times” not to fail the presentation, and that because uploading the presentation was a mandatory requirement, she was therefore authorised to fail me.

I replied to her email and said that, a,  I had been to class on Monday night, b, I had done my presentation, and, c, I had been given a very good mark for it.

She was uninterested. She kept insisting that “she had to follow procedure” and that she now had to fail me.

I was furious. I told my wife, who was also furious. In tears, I phoned my project supervisor, who was horrified. He said he had never, in all his years supervising projects, heard of anything so petty and ridiculous. He emailed the Head Of School and copied me in. The HOS was as shocked as he was, and said that, in his opinion, if I had done the presentation and been given a mark, there should be no reason to fail me.

His advice? To submit an Extenuating Circumstance claim, which would be reviewed during the Christmas holidays.

I did so, and emailed my Project Coordinator to inform her that this is what I would be doing. Her response was frosty: “Do what you like. I have to follow procedure.”

I submitted my EC claim and went abroad with my wife to stay with her family over Christmas. While away, I got an email from the School of Computing to inform me that “The EC committee had reviewed my claim and determined that I was not at fault and should be awarded the mark for my presentation.”

Relieved, I came back off Christmas break and threw myself into my project again, with one slight difference: from now on, any time I submitted assessed work to the Online Learning Environment, I screenshotted the confirmation message and emailed it to both the Project Coordinator and my Project Supervisor.

I completed my project, graduated, and later went on to complete a PhD! The Project Coordinator never said anything else about her intention to fail me. I’m not sure why she took such a notion, and I doubt I’ll ever find out, nor will I ever find out why my presentation didn’t upload.

1 Thumbs
208

A Fun Update To “My Dog Ate It”

, , , , , , , , | Learning | June 22, 2020

The one time I don’t turn in my work for my senior English class, I have a legitimate excuse. 

Teacher: “Where’s your homework?”

Me: “My cat dragged it into the other room, and…”

I don’t know how to say that she peed on it. 

Teacher: “Half points! Best excuse I’ve ever heard!”

1 Thumbs
232

Explaining Himself In Excruciating Detail

, , , , , , | Learning | May 26, 2020

I am a math teacher at an elementary school. In the late 1980s, I had this one fourth-grader who was very brilliant but sometimes took directions a little too literally. One day, I had the class do a special math problem together after the lesson, where they not only had to show their work as usual but also provide a written explanation on the back of the worksheet detailing the purpose of each step taken to solve the problem.

While the class was working, I noticed that the brilliant kid took a little longer to solve the problem than usual. When he turned it in at the end of class, I saw why.

He had written an overly-detailed explanation explaining literally everything he had done. It was so long and detailed that he actually took up not only the whole backside of the worksheet — most students needed only little more than half — but also about a dozen lines on a sheet of notebook paper.

I laughed to myself and gave him a four — the highest score possible — because he had solved the problem correctly and, while very long, his explanation was ”technically” correct. I told him that the next time I gave him a similar problem, he only needed to explain the solution the same way that his math book explained how to solve example problems.

It’s been over thirty years, and he has since graduated from a nearby Ivy League college and gotten a career in statistics. His son now attends my school and will be in my class for the 2020-21 school year.

1 Thumbs
372

Sometimes Winging It… Works

, , , , , | Learning | May 22, 2020

Back in high school, I was the type of student who procrastinated and often did my homework at the last possible minute.

One day in class, at the end of the week, we were put into pairs, given an opinion on a topic, and then told we’d be debating for our opinion in two weeks, as another group had gotten an opposite opinion on the same topic. During the following week, we were to research our topic, find points to argue for our opinion, and together plan some sort of strategy. Every group had been given a few papers on their topic, but it was up to each group to find out more.

Unfortunately, I got a cold for a week and a half and stupidly did not look up anything, as I completely forgot about the assignment. Come Friday, upon entering the classroom, my mind was flooded with the memory of papers shoved into the bottom of my bag, my partner and I sitting together, and the deadline of today, the second of two weekly lessons with that teacher.

I more or less rushed over to my partner, asking her if she’d found anything, and her face said it all; she also hadn’t looked anything up. After asking around, we found out that we and our opponents would be the last to debate; everyone else got done during class earlier that week.

Fishing up the papers from two weeks before, we began hastily scrabbling for any information that would stick to our brains, when we looked up and saw the other group looking through their papers, pointing at some words, and discussing with each other. It was at that moment we knew we were screwed, and that our teacher would probably reprimand us for not doing anything.

Eventually, our teacher entered the classroom and everyone took a seat. She asked the two remaining groups to come up, and we solemnly made our way to one of two tables set up in the front of the classroom, ready to get an a**-kicking and a stern lecture on doing your homework.

The topic we’d been given was about prenatal care, and more specifically about screening pregnancy; my partner and I were for screening, while the other group was against it.

We both realized they had studied the subject, and they more or less took the lead in the debate. We did our best trying to lift up our opinion with what little we’d managed to remember from our short read-through, but we knew it would eventually turn into us going in a circle, repeating the same facts.

I somehow got into how a screening might tell if a fetus was at risk for a birth defect, which then delved into abortion, with them strongly making their case that abortion was bad, and thus screening was bad. It was then, when I knew we had nothing else left, that I pulled this line out of my a**:

“I’m not saying I stand for abortion, but I stand for women to have the choice and chance to prepare for a baby who might be born with a defect.”

That apparently threw them off, because they just stared silently at us and had nothing to say back.

We got a little applause from the rest of the class, and our teacher asked the class which one of the groups the rest of our classmates thought had made the stronger case on the topic, and they actually picked mine and my partner’s, pointing out my line as the “winning argument.”

1 Thumbs
361

You Can’t Even Escape Essays In Physical Education!

, , , | Learning | May 13, 2020

Due to an ongoing sickness, I miss more than half of the whole year’s PE classes. While I am obviously excused and not written down for skipping class or anything, my teacher still pulls me aside a few weeks before we get our final marks.

Teacher: “Listen. With the little time you’ve been in class, I can’t properly grade you. The school requires a certain amount of participation in class, and we don’t have homework or exams to get points in PE, either, so right now you’re at about 20%. That’s a failing grade.”

Me: “Uh, okay. Is there any other way I can make up points for missing class?”

Teacher: “I really can’t think of anything sensible. All I can do is give you a topic to write a paper on, and enter it as participation into the system.”

Me: “I can do that; I like writing papers. What topic?”

Teacher: “Uh, volleyball.”

Me: “Just… volleyball?”

Teacher: “Yeah.”

Me: “Like, the history of it? Professional volleyball? What?”

Teacher: “Just volleyball.”

Me: “You mean how to play?”

Teacher: “Yes, sure, let’s do that.”

I wrote a five-page paper about How To Play Volleyball, which meant I basically copy-pasted the rules of volleyball and drew some diagrams of the field and player positions. My teacher loved it and actually used it as a guideline in future classes doing volleyball.

The year after, I missed most of PE again because of my sickness, and I was given yet another topic to do a paper on — basketball this time. Rinse and repeat for my entire high school career. No one at the school ever thought about maybe excusing me from PE entirely, since it was a required class and there was no option for me to have any other class as a replacement.

I ended up graduating with a rather mediocre but acceptable grade in PE, having barely done any sports at all. I kind of feel like the school’s grading system never considered how to actually grade physical classes.

1 Thumbs
343