## Wednesday, January 28, 2015

### Grading Stories: "Cheese Weight" and Thusforthwith

One thing I love about the internet is being able to share stories and moments from everyday life. Here are a couple about something I'm sure other academics will be able to relate to: grading stories.

Cheese Weight

My alma mater enforced mathematical writing guidelines and the use of $\LaTeX$ very strongly. Yet some people, notably non-majors, chose to ignore those guidelines completely and complain when points were taken off for writing. Some people handed in scratch work done in pen on graph paper in consistently gigantic writing. Some people *coughEigenpetercough* printed out the questions in $\LaTeX$... two problems to one page, in landscape form... then did them out by hand in tiny writing. Some people *coughalsoEigenpetercough* did the homework in $\LaTeX$ but omitted large amounts of information to fit every proof-based problem on one side of one page.

Then there are the people with just plain bad handwriting. While grading with a friend, I encountered a homework that exemplified this while grading a core class; apparently, one of the people in the class was secretly a chicken tied to a Ouija board. Here's how it went down.

Me: Hey, do you have any idea what these two words are?

Friend: ..........

Me: It looks like it says "cheese weight".

Friend: It does, but that doesn't have anything to do with the problem.

Me: Can you tell from context?

Friend: .... no.... (to another person) Hey, do you know what this says?

Someone else: ..... looks like "cheese weight"?

Yet another person: I have no idea.

Me: Well, "cheese weight" it is then.

And that's how someone got their work back with "what's a cheese weight?" written as a comment.

Runner-up for best handwriting-related mishap goes to the person who tried to write "I used Professor X's code," but botched the last two letters in "code" in a way that evoked, erm, Little Professor X.

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Thusforthwith!

As a fan of both analysis and silly things, I can't help but enjoy when they're combined. This story is about a friend who perfected this combination.

My friend, at the time, was taking the same real analysis course I was grading, so I mentioned to him how funny it was when people used archaic connecting words: "thusly", "wither" and the like. From there we started trying to come up with the most ridiculous word. Thenceforth! Thuswith! Whencehence!

So of course every homework I got from this friend had at least one made-up connecting word (despite being typed up quite nicely). This continued without incident, until one day:

Me: This is hilarious! I'm worried about you slipping up and doing it on the test, though.

Him: Why not?

Me: Well... the professor might notice, and you might get docked some points...

Him: Hmm...

Which obviously culminated in him PUTTING FAKE WORDS ON THE ANALYSIS TEST.

And guess what?

THE PROFESSOR DIDN'T NOTICE.

Jesus.

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Readers, do you have any grading stories? Let me know if anyone tries to pull off using fake connecting words---not everyone may be as lucky!