A blog about economics instruction. "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler."--Albert Einstein

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome--What Can Instructors Do?

Here at The Royal Economics Academy the Provost issues a warning to the faculty each semester. That warning reminds the faculty to consider the fact that exams are hazardous to the health of students' grandmothers.

The Provost's memo is grounded in solid research, published by Mike Adams of Eastern Connecticut State University in 1999. His paper The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome is a classic in the literature. Furthermore, the faculty members I know confirm his results through their own experiences. With every exam that comes around, more grandmothers die.

Since academic freedom is a cornerstone of the charter that created The Royal Economics Academy, our Provost chooses not to dictate how faculty should respond to the dead grandmother/exam syndrome. Some of my colleagues have decided to stop giving exams altogether, thus saving the lives of hundreds of grandmothers around the world. Other faculty members put a requirement on their syllabi that makes students sign an oath promising to keep their enrollment at the academy a secret from their families. The problem with this approach is that sometimes family members get nosy, investigate the whereabouts of a student, and are shocked when they discover that Susie or Sam is in college.

Economics instructors everywhere need to remember grandmothers as they schedule exams. Give as few exams as possible to keep the death toll among grandmothers down. In my experience, exams that contain math are especially deadly. Eliminate the math. The grandmothers of the world will thank you.



Blogger Paula Bustamante said...

This is a very interesting story. Now I know, why there are very few grandmothers. However, I think it hurts the students more than the grandmothers. Every morning I get up and I see more white hair.

3:07 PM

Blogger Ronald M. Ayers said...

White hair? Yep, on me!!!

12:56 AM


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