Saturday, May 12, 2007

Why We Should Never Underestimate Undergraduates' Creativity

by Unknown

Kieran's post on a colleague whose student promised to "try to set aside time" to take the final reminded me of one of the (few) amusing moments of my time as a member of the Faculty Senate.

A committee of the Senate was charged with the task of revising the university's finals schedule in order to minimize the number of students who had (a) back-to-back finals on the same day; or (b) three finals in one day. This turns out to be a complex logistical problem, especially if one begins with the prior that the university must provide sufficient party, um, study time between the end of classes and the beginning of finals, and also between the end of finals and graduation weekend.

After a careful analysis of years worth of data culled from the Registrar's records, the committee reported back to the Faculty Senate that, yes, these two goals could be accomplished. First, the Registrar would have to be authorized to wait until two weeks into the semester, i.e., when enrollments settled, before announcing which canonical hours were matched with which finals slots.

And second, the Registrar's on-line enrollment software would have to be reprogrammed. It turned out that a nontrivial proportion of the students with two or more finals in one day* had signed up for two, and in some cases three, classes that met simultaneously.

A motion authorizing these changes passed, unanimously I believe.

*corrected post-coffee for clarity.

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One year (either junior or senior, I forget which), I accidentally signed up for two courses meeting at the same time; I filled the form in with both of them and, since it wasn't due until about a week into the schedule, went to one of each.

Eventually—when the bill for 21 credits came in—it was fixed at the Registrar's Office.

So I'm not certain if that's creativity or forgetfulness.
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