Save Grandma, Don’t Give Makeup Exams

26 August 2008 at 8:55 am 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

I quit giving makeup exams years ago because they were Granger-causing the deaths of too many grandmothers. I believe the relationship between makeup exams and grandma mortality is well known among college professors, but I only recently discovered Lee Jussim’s analysis (via Teppo). (He suggests giving only really difficult makeup exams, which has a similar effect.)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Teaching. Tags: .

Hayek, Read, Mises in the Classroom Tullock on the Corporation

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. bobvis  |  26 August 2008 at 10:51 am

    I take it Missouri doesn’t force you to give make-up exams. At my new university, we are forced to provide make-up exams to students with documented excuses. To avoid this as much as possible, I’ve made a good bit of my course pop quizzes that cannot be made up. My final is my only scheduled exam.

  • 2. REW  |  27 August 2008 at 12:21 am

    We often make fun of the “dead grandmother” phenomenon. One colleague actually placed in the NO DEAD GRANDMOTHER clause in his syllabus for the principles of economics course. Campus administration came down on him with a vengeance. It is sad fact of life that a class of 200 students will likely have a nonzero number of real cases of death in the family. Also, it is my experience that one or two students in any given semester will also lose a close childhood friend, cousin, or the like to the mishaps that befall 18-year-olds. If we treat personal loss as cavalierly as my colleague had, we have sent a horrid signal to young people who may find themselves facing a personal tragedy.

    So I, for one, tread very lightly on this in the large courses that I teach and I am quick to schedule makeup exams once a student presents an excuse to me. Our campus has individuals designated as “emergency deans” who can provide professors with official excuses for absences due to injury, malady, family emergency, or tragedies. Over time, my reputation is such that students always offer the emergency dean’s official excuse, though I rarely require them to follow through. And I never make the makeup exam more difficult than the other exam, nor do I even threaten this. To do so is, at the very least, capricious grading.

    Sorry to be such a grump about this.

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  27 August 2008 at 9:38 am

    Actually, I’m not quite as callous as the original post may have suggested. When students have university-approved absences — which include, of course, deaths in the immediate family — I simply distribute the weight of the missed exam across the remaining exams and other deliverables.

    Randy, this sort of grumpiness is welcome — a nice counterweight to the curmudgeonliness usually expressed on this blog. :-)

  • 4. Maryy  |  10 March 2011 at 10:02 am

    How about some students with disabilities? I study really hard my GPA is 3.97 and I am suffering from chronic daily migraine headaches. Have you experienced a headache can cause you vomited for 24 hours? Or paralyze you in bed for 3 days! How about taking 10 pills a day until your liver stop functioning! I hate it when you think everybody is making up an excuse to miss an exam. I HATE IT. Do you understand the pain…………..?

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