As many of you know, I am not only a published author, I am also a biology professor, a job I absolutely ADORE!
At least, most of the time.
Teaching is a rewarding, difficult, exhausting, exasperating, fun, crazy job. We don’t do it for the money (trust me on this). We do it because, for the most part, the passion we have for our subject matter and sharing that with students is more rewarding than the difficulties we face. And depending on what grade you teach, the issues that crop up can be varied. I teach college-age students at a small university in Grand Junction, CO (Colorado Mesa University). A couple years ago we were a state college. I went to this same college and earned my bachelor’s degree in biology in 2003. I went on from there to earn my PhD in human medical genetics from Anschutz Medical Campus. While doing my post-doctoral fellowship, I had the opportunity to teach at the Community College of Aurora and was hooked! I hadn’t planned on being a professor. My goal was to run a lab and discover something awesome and win the Nobel Prize. But once I experienced the joys of teaching and found out that I had a knack for it, I switched gears. Doing so meant some drastic changes, mainly in the amount of money I would be earning. It’s no secret that teachers don’t really get paid all that much. However, there are some major advantages: winter break, summers off, and if you teach at a university, you aren’t even in the classroom or office all day long. So that leaves me plenty of time to write my books. Win-win for Dr. Fab: day job I love and time to write.
One thing professors have to deal with is the students who think that cheating their way to a degree is perfectly acceptable behavior. This doesn’t just apply to tests. They will weasel their way out of doing work, taking exams on exam day, handing in work on time, even missing deadlines and trying to hand in things late and claim that somehow the professor missed giving them credit. *rolls eyes* This last one happened to me last semester in my biology labs.
I teach the gen ed bio labs pretty much every semester. Most professors only have two exams and that counts as their whole grade for the class. No extra points for attendance, etc. Students don’t have much of a margin for error when it comes to getting a poor grade on one exam. Doing poorly on one often means a bad grade in the class. I did this for the first year or so but decided last year to give 5 points for each lab, a total of 50 points for the semester. All they had to do was fill in their lab notebooks and bring it to me to check at the end of the lab. Well, it went fine until I got students coming to me at the end of the semester with notebooks filled in for labs I KNOW they missed. But since I had no proof, I had to give them the points.
Nothing bugs me more than liars and cheats. Seriously. It’s frustrating when you know darn good and well someone missed labs and yet will look you in the face and claim they were there and that you somehow missed giving them the points. It’s easy for them to fill out the lab notebook after the fact and claim they did it when they were supposed to.
So I am doing something different this semester. Mwahahahahaha! *Dr. Evil laugh*
I am making the students tear the pages out of their notebooks that they are to turn in for their lab participation credit and give them to me at the end of lab. I look them over, correct things that have been mis-labeled and will hand them back.
With one very awesome little thing added:
Each lab will be stamped so students can’t fill out their labs after the fact and try to get credit for it. No stamp = no credit. The only way a student can cheat is if they special order this same stamp in the same font and using the same color ink.
Any other professors out there who have had to come up with things like this to discourage cheating? I’d love to hear from you!