Saturday, September 19, 2009

Escalation doesn't pay...

I had an on-line exam up last week.

The students had 36 hours to access the exam, 45 minutes for 15 m/c. t/f questions and 2 hours to answer ONE essay question. The 5 possible essay questions were available the Thursday before the exam... so, the students really had a week to formulate responses. The exam closed on Wednesday, at 7 PM. I expressly told students that if they had problems with the course management system, they should answer their essay question in an e-mail and send it to me within their 2 hour exam window. Several students did exactly that.

Wednesday at 4:30 I got an e-mail from X, who claimed computer problems and wanted to know what to do....

At 5:00 I replied to X, told hir to answer hir essay question in an e-mail and get it in to me by 6:30... I even copied the question into the e-mail for hir convenience.

crickets --

Thursday morning X calls me. s/he claimed computer death and wanted a re-take.

I asked how s/he could claim dead computer when s/he sent an e-mail? I also asked why s/he didn't follow directions and, instead of just sending me a "my computer sux" e-mail -- and send me an answer to hir essay question?

X -- as predicted -- had no answer.

I looked more carefully at X's t/f, m/c exam and found that X had moved between pages for about 25 minutes, but only saved two answers. In other words, X read ALL the questions but only answered two and claimed a computer meltdown... folks, computers that have melted down don't let you move between pages.

I also asked the course management gurus about any problems during X's exam period. Nothing was reported -- and no other students in the exam at the time experienced problems.

Escalation, step 1 --

It seems that X has some kind of learning disability, as that office both called and e-mailed me to "talk about X". I responded in an e-mail with the details above, and noted that my syllabus only permits make-up exams in case of verified medical emergency. X has no such claim, X gets no make-up.

I'm sure that the learning disability office must have told X that it was a no-go...

I'm quite glad I checked with disability office about my exam procedures -- and the head of that office told me they were fine...

Escalation, step 2 --
E-mail from Dean asking for information on a student with computer problems. X was the only claim of computer problem -- so I new it was hir

In response I copy X's quiz activity record for Dean (shows 20 minutes of access, paging back and forth but no answers)-- and forward the e-mail exchange and explain my syllabus policy. I also send a copy of my syllabus to Dean.

Dean has a meeting with X on Monday.

I'm going to need a VERY good reason to permit X to make-up any portion of this exam.

At this point I think X is either a) a cheater trying to get extra time to study or b) a bully who has used hir disability status to get special considerations s/he isn't entitled to. Either alternative is unacceptable and I'm not going to permit it.

Really, if Dean wants to promote use of the on-line exam process, s/he will have to support policies that don't permit computer death/internet issues to be an excuse. Otherwise, there is no way to keep control of a class.


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Ooooh...X has met her match! You Go, Girlfriend! Call her out! I'm staying posted.

julie said...

Please, please, please do not allow the student to re-take. I'm in a situation with the dean and a bully student right now . . . it's getting me down. Actually, I've never felt quite this beaten up before. So please help!

And you are SO RIGHT about the online piece: the administration better support FACULTY's rules/procedures and NOT let students use the wimpy "My computer died" excuse. Administration has absolutely *no* clue about computer misbehavior, online teaching realities.

You go!

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I know that neither of our deans have taught on-line... so they just don't understand it.

This is the first student complaint I've had in a long time -- and the first with this dean -- so, we'll see how it goes.

But, unless there is significant and relevant new information that either a) persuades me that my syllabus policies are unreasonable or b) provides new information, I'm not about to change that grade.

Also -- keep in mind that X is currently in my class -- this is the first exam and X is already in the dean's office. I'm not about to simply back down and let X run over me until December. The next thing that will happen will be X taking disputes about quiz questions to the dean...