Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Follow-Up to Proofs Quiz

I posted the other day about my Proofs quiz that nobody seemed to complete. Last night we got the quizzes back. I got 10/10 on it, but unfortunately my professor doesn't discuss the overall grades with us, so I don't know how other people did. (The woman next to me got 6/10.)

But there were hints. The professor told us he would drop our lowest hundred consecutive points. He also told a long story about taking his grad school prelims and totally blanking out and feeling like he knew nothing and could not even get started on the things he had to do. So he said he understands how you can blank out or have a bad day.

I conclude from this that my surmise was correct.

He did also go over the proofs that were on the quiz, in detail, and at least one of them could have been done in a much shorter way than how I did it. His grading is kind of capricious, and it's hard to guess how much explicitness he wants in the proofs, so I tend to err on the verbose side.


sally said...

What does he mean by dropping "the lowest hundred consecutive points"? I feel like this should make obvious sense to me, but it kind of doesn't. I am having trouble visualizing how this would apply to a person's actual scores in his gradebook. Throwing out the 2 lowest quiz scores or the lowest test score or whatever seems straightforward, but I'm not sure how this works across assignments of varying max score values. Also curious why they must be consecutive.

Tam said...

I'm not completely sure myself. I think he threw in the word "consecutive" at some point because our quizzes are worth 10 points each, and I don't think he means to throw out ten quizzes for someone, which would probably end up being nearly all of them. The homeworks are worth about 25 points, and the tests are worth 100 points each (there are three or four, plus a final that counts for more). I don't think he really knows what he intends to do, but I think his general intent is to throw out a lot of low scores but not make it so you can just be half-assed the whole time. Rather he means to exclude a specific time period of low performance, should you have one.

Debbie said...

Wow, he just thinks a huge majority of the class just blanked out? And didn't sit there hoping something would come back to them? Just tra, la, la, oh, well, here's my test?

Were there substantially fewer people in class, as if a bunch of them had dropped?

This is, indeed, very strange.

Tam said...

Well, it was just one tiny quiz. We have one almost every week. So I don't think it's a huge big deal that people couldn't do the three proofs. Most people probably made 4-6 points on it (out of 10) if they did the other problems.

I think the purpose of his story was just to reassure people so they don't freak out and drop the class. The class is pretty much surprisingly hard, and material that's presented on Monday is hard to learn or practice by Wednesday, especially if you work as many of us do. I think his expectation that we'd be ready for the quiz was somewhat unreasonable, personally.

Who knows.

sally said...

He may have belatedly realized his expectations had been unreasonable, but didn't want to actually say that for various reasons. In any event, it does seem like he's trying to be reassuring to people that they shouldn't totally freak out/drop the class over not being able to do the proofs on the quiz.

It kind of sounds like he's making this up as he goes along, which isn't necessarily a terrible thing if he's finding it difficult to get a handle on what the students in the class are capable of. But it makes sense that he wants to give himself the opportunity to eliminate some low scores for someone who had a bad/busy week and didn't have it together for quizzes and homework that week (esp. given how your school tends to have students who also work and many who probably have families and hence have all kinds of reasons beyond "dude, I was just soooo wasted" that they sometimes screw up) without giving permission to people to just not show up for 10 quizzes.