May 4, 2004

More exam simulproctorblogging.

There are 45 students taking my exam. They are all in one room: I only agree to proctor if they will all be in one room. I ran into a colleague in the elevator as I was coming in this morning. He too was arriving early to proctor an exam. I mentioned that I have a principle of only proctoring if the students will all be in one room. I get a good-humored but sarcastic response: "Oh! A principle! Someone went to law school!" Yes, I don't think it's fair that some students have easy access to the lawprof to ask a question when others would have to walk to another room. His response reminds me that the notion of purporting to be operating according to a rationally derived principle is generally held in low regard around here. Of course, had the conversation gone on much longer--our elevator rides are short in our 6-story "tower"--I'm sure I would have proposed a more Madison-appropriate version of my behavior in which I admit that I came up with the principle as a way to have a lofty-sounding excuse for refusing to proctor, because in the past my rooms were split up, and how now that they are on to my little ruse, I will need to come up with a new phoney principle to avoid the chore. Just to regain the admiration of my peers.

Anyway, there are 45 students here, still intently taking the exam. Virtually no walking in and out of the room (despite all that water), which I like to think indicates that they are getting the questions and coming up with good answers. I only left an exam once when I was a law student, and it was at the point when I was genuinely stymied (in Conflict of Laws). The two-minute break I took somehow resulted in my realizing where the answer lay. Taking a break is an oddly effective way to solve a problem. I've often observed that when doing a crossword puzzle. Generally, I plow straight through the NYT puzzle (the only one I'm interested in). But sometimes, I'm stuck and I read some article on another page, then turn back to the puzzle and can immediately see answers that I couldn't think my way to when I was trying. The mind works in mysterious ways. There is potential here for some insight into how judges decide cases or some such lawproffy thing.

Number of students wearing the Bucky Badger logo: 1
Number of students wearing hats: 5
Percentage of hats that are baseball caps: 100
Number of students who brought nothing to drink: 10
Percentage of students frantically leafing through notes for answers: 0
Percentage of students who have come up to ask questions: 0

UPDATE: A UW student blogger gives me an idea for the new phoney excuse: I'm sorry, I'm afraid as a matter of principle I must decline to proctor any exams out of concern that some students perceive the professor to be proctoring for the purpose of enjoying watching the students suffer. Thanks!