It is finals week, and I have a plan

Just as I get caught up in all my grading, I have to go and foul it up by giving more tests this week. But I have laid out my schedule, and will deal with it.

Today I give the genetics final. Immediately afterwards, I will retire to grade it, and I will not stop until they are all done. This is manageable. The exam is almost all math, and if they understand the concepts the answers will fall out easily, while if they don’t understand the concepts they’ll get wacky answers that are easily scored as wrong. That will get that course out of the way by tomorrow.

Tomorrow I have to proctor an exam for a colleague, but I do not have to grade it. I will use that time to compose the exam for my Fundamentals of Genetics, Evolution, and Development course. This one will have lots of essay questions, I think.

Wednesday I give that exam, and then immediately turn around and lock myself in to finish grading it. I should be done by Thursday, and then I am FREE! Totally free!

Except that I’m committed to attending the Paradigm Symposium as a squinty-eyed skeptical observer this weekend. It should be weird. But once that’s done, I’m free for next week.

Except that I’m also going to have to do a review for Quarterly Reviews, which I am determined to get done promptly, as soon as I get the copy. So I’m going to whip through that one next week. I’ve also got to put together an extension for our HHMI grant. Then I’m free?

Except that the week after is when the family is flying off to South Korea for a week. OK, that’ll be fun and exciting, but it’s going to lock me down for a while. So after that…will I be free?

Nope. That’s when my new summer student and I start our summer research program, tracking melanocyte migration. It’ll be interesting, I hope, and might set the stage for a new line of research in my lab.

I’ve heard these rumors that college professors take the summers off and goof around for three months. It’s all a lie. The only true part of that story is that I’m on a 9 month appointment, so I won’t be getting paid. Yes! Finally, there’s a sense in which I am free!


  1. wcorvi says

    “…my Fundamentals of Genetics, Evolution, and Development course.”

    The road to HELL, PZ! You’re leading them down the road….

  2. says

    I am. It’s their first course in biology at UMM, and we give them a foundation in philosophy of science and the importance of evolution, and then the whole rest of our curriculum is laced with Darwinism. Bwahahahahaha!

  3. says

    Composing exams….
    Great fun! I’m actually doing this now for the first time and holy fuck…
    -it’s a lot more work than people imagine (especially if you don’t just buy the premade packs)
    -I think they should all be getting As because it’s dead easy but I know they won’t because some of them don’t know their 5th grade vocabulary

  4. says

    Yeah, composing exams can be fun. Genetics is an excuse to invent logic puzzles.
    I told my students that I’d recycle some questions from previous exams, and that it would be a good idea to review back exams and make sure you know how to do all those problems…and 40% of this final is actually recycled material (we are an environmentally conscientious campus). But I also know some of the students will not get the answers on even those correct, especially if they think the best strategy is to memorize the back exams. That WILL NOT WORK. Literal regurgitation is more error prone than understanding how the problems are solved.
    And my new questions don’t involve memorization, either.

  5. says

    Och, you know, my students could probably get 30% of the points simply by looking through our old vocabulary tests. But those who scored well in the old tests will do well and those who did badly will do badly because seeing that you don’t know the words is no reason to finally learn them

  6. Karen Locke says

    As an undergrad, I either went home for the summer or went somewhere for an internship-type summer job, so I had no idea about what my professors did. As a (Master’s) grad student, I was hanging around all summer with my eye to a microscope, and got to see what geology professors did in the summer. What a busy bunch! My grad school was primarily a teaching institution, so professors spent the early part of the summer helping their grad students in the field. Some of them taught summer school; some participated in summer programs for middle and high school teacher training. All of them spent hours reading and commenting on theses. Most, under spousal pressure, slipped away for short vacations. And then it was August, classes were about to start, and you could see them metaphorically sliding into home as they madly prepped for classes.

    But summers were easier; my thesis advisor and his office mate could reliably get away for lunch in the summer, and a few of us (professors and students) would spend some quality time discussing some new paper or swapping house maintenance horror stories over sandwiches.

  7. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    Wow, you don’t have to write your exams months ahead of when they are given to the students?