Thursday, April 20, 2006

Great unexplained mysteries of the universe

1. If a quiz clearly states that partial credit will be given, why on earth would you leave a quiz question (or multiple questions) completely blank? Especially when you know that writing down almost anything will earn you at least one point? One is always better than zero.

2. If you know that quizzes are a certain percentage of your grade, and you know that quizzes are given once and only once with no makeups, and you've already been burned by missing one quiz, why would you do it again, and again?

3. Why is it that sometimes checking code into CVS from my Windows machine doesn't work (as in, doesn't check the code in with nary an error message alerting me to the fact)?

4. Why was I so ravenously hungry all day today?

5. Why is it that students will struggle and struggle and hand in code that doesn't work, when a quick trip to the professor's office would have uncovered the problem with the code in under 30 seconds?

6. Why is it that I can both love and hate my job within the same 5-minute period?


pjm said...

I think I'd like to know the answer to #5 for my own sake... unfortunately, too often (for me) it's, "Student started writing code between end of office hours and turn-in deadline."

sb said...

playing devil's advocate is fun, so here we go:

1. Because leaving it empty looks like you didn't have time to answer it, a partial answer to a question you don't know much about might make you look stupid. It's a law of procrastination: it's better to attribute failure to lack of time than to lack of ability.

2. Because you're too far behind to catch up. (Despite Douglas Adams' saying: The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up)

3. Because you really can't rely on the dark side. Use linux.

4. Hormonal fluctuations. Frustration.

5. Why would you go bother a professor when it's clearly you who doesn't get it right? Are professors in the debugging business? And they can do it in 30s? I wish someone had told me that when I was an undergrad.

6. I wish I knew that one myself! :-)

p.s.: thanks for your explanations about stay-at-home sabbaticals the other day. I do agree that in CS you can collaborate remotely, but I maintain that it's an altogether different experience to be at the same place.

Rudbeckia Hirta said...

#5 is also tied to the whole "men don't ask for directions" phenomenon.

Jane said...

pjm, that does sound like what happens with my students too. But they don't go visit the TAs and lab assistants, either, even though they all have late hours the night before assignments are due. sigh.

sb, great answers! thanks!

(And maybe 30 seconds is an exaggeration, but most of the time if an intro student is really, hopelessly stuck, it's something that can be spotted and resolved rather quickly. And even with the more advanced students, I have the luxury of not having stared at the code for the past several hours, so I'm more likely to spot a missing semicolon or an off-by-one error.)

Rudbeckia, you raise an interesting point! I'll have to see if there is a gender correlation there.