A new instructor called at 8:12am the other morning absolutely beside himself. He had walked into his 8am class with Midterm 3 ready to distribute to the students. All was fine, so far. It was not until he and the TA were handing out the exams that they realized that Version C was printed with the correct answers in bold font.
He realized that
Did he do the right thing?
1. This is now going to completely overshadow any previous nightmares of showing up to SATs in pajamas or showing up to your oral defense and seeing your parents in the front row.
2. His decision certainly eliminated any impact on the students. The students had prepared for this exam and had shown up ready to take it. Some might have been counting on this exam to raise their average from previous exams. By calculating this exam as 100%, every student's grade will be raised. If he had just removed it from the gradebook, the students who were 'counting on' this exam to raise their grade would have been denied the opportunity to raise their grade.
3. As long as he has multiple ways of assessing student learning, needing to abandon an exam (due to a fire alarm, power outage, instructor PDF mishap, TA misplacing exam papers, etc.) should still leave enough information about student content mastery to assign final grades.
Students seem to believe that instructors have an amazing power and can make special accommodations one-on-one. The requests for 'grade bumps' range from flippant to tragic.
Here is a recent response to a more tragic request.
I am sorry that you and your family are experiencing such trauma. Please consider speaking with one of the counselors available through Student Health and Counseling. Your mental health and well-being are so important. I understand that your final grade in this class does not fully reflect your ability; under different circumstances, you would have performed differently.
It is against University policy for me to accept additional work after the end of the quarter or to treat individual students preferentially. I am no longer able to change your grade or to submit the paperwork for an Incomplete. The department chair and dean would simply not approve that action at this point. Please speak with an academic advisor in the Psychology Department or in the Dean’s Office to explore your options. They have far more options available than I do.
Department of Psychology
University of California
One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
Associate Professor of Teaching Psychology
267 Young Hall