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Not really an urban legend, but funny nonetheless

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posted on Feb, 25 2005 @ 09:00 PM
A funny story for ya'all. At least I think so.

Between 1992 - 1997 I was a graduate student in physical chemistry at Kansas State University. Most of the time I was paid as a research assistant, but for a few semesters I worked as a teaching assistant. Most of the time I taught a Chemistry 1 lab course. It was a pretty cool job, but over time I got really tired of students cheating on exams. So I decided to teach them a lesson.

I was in charge of 3 sections of ~25 students each and the 2nd proctor for the exam had similar numbers. All told, there were well over 100 students in the room. It was the first exam of the semester, so there was no way that anyone would recognize if an 'extra' student showed up for this test. The 'extra', in this case, was my wife. I had her sit on the aisle and take an exam like everyone else. She had had some chemistry in college so was able to work on the problems for a while with only a little difficulty. The cheat sheet that I had prepared for her helped a bit too.

About 15 minutes into the period, I approached her and told her in a firm voice to "Get up". Being the terrific actress that she is, she gave me a stunned look and said "What?"

"GET UP" I said a little louder. I had everyone's attention at this point.

Now she looked a bit worried. "What?!?" she asked again.

"GET OUT" I yelled, snatching her exam and the cheat sheet.

My wife attempted to stand up, but the folding desk held her down - but only briefly. A second attempt to stand broke the desk and the wood top clattered to the floor. Lots of stunned looks around the room. Her composure broke on her way out of the room. Witnesses in the back told me later that she had tears in her eyes as she was approaching the back of the room. The door in the back was a little sticky. She had to hit the panic bar a few times before it popped open. Again, according to later accounts from nearby students, a few 'sobs' were audible as she tried to get the door in the back of the room to open.

As I had hoped, the exam room remained SILENT for the remainder of the period... as well as the rest of the course. I mean, you could literally hear a pin drop in there. The other proctor, who was in on the joke, and I examined her progress on the confiscated exam. To our surprise, she had solved the first three problems correctly and was well on her way to solving the fourth. For a final effect, I tore up the exam at the front of the room and tossed it into the trash.

A variety of students made comments to me over the course of that period and the rest of the semseter.
"You be able to tell *I* didn't cheat on this exam" and
"What kind of idiot sits on the aisle and cheats with a cheat sheet?" [The kind that doesn't mind getting caught, perhaps?] were my favorites.

I waited until the Final Exam to let the students in on the joke. Before I handed out the exam, I made an announcement: "OK everyone, just so you know, the person I kicked out at the beginning of the semester was my wife. Good luck!"

Lots of bewildered looks, and quite a few angry glares. The real stunner for me came when one student told me "I can't believe that you are such a bas**** that you would kick your own wife out for cheating." Smiling, I just took their exam and checked to make sure that they had spelled their name correctly.

posted on Feb, 26 2005 @ 11:46 PM
That's a funny story, but why didn't you catch a real cheater and and do the same thing. I hate cheaters.

posted on Feb, 27 2005 @ 04:13 PM
I wish I could have. I despise cheaters also.

The bottom line was that the University didn't want us to catch or punish cheaters, even if it was blatant. Our instructions were to avoid trying to catch cheaters. If the cheating was too obvious, (for example if someone was openly using a cheat sheet) and we were to "accidently" catch them, we were to take it away but allow them to continue.

Luckily, most of my students were freshmen or sophomores and weren't aware of the restrictions on the proctors.

Even in cases where the cheating was clear, obvious, and without shame, the University was afraid of lawsuits (some BS about due process) and would not allow profs or teaching assistants to do anything that might be viewed as a punishment.

While I was at KSU, there was a case in a Biology course where a dozen or more students turned in the same report, word for word, including mis-spellings. At first, all of the students were going to be kicked out of the class and get an "F" for the course. Apparently, one of them had a wealthy parent who threatened legal action. The 'punishment' was reduced to a zero for the assignment and the option to re-take the course next semester and have the old grade wiped out by the new grade.

I've heard similar tales from colleagues that have worked at other universities and even high schools now. At schools that have so-called "honor codes", the honor board is often run by students who don't like to impose punishments that could have long-term consequences. They often view cheating as a simple "mistake" that shouldn't ruin their futures.

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