Flu Wars - Episode V: The faculty strike back

Students are starting to get the flu around here - and that means that it is time to debate. Clearly there are going to be some absences in the coming month. The question is: what to do about it? There are two camps of thought here:

Camp 1: Excuses are bad

This camp of faculty is worried. They are worried that the administration is going to issue a statement something like this:

"These are difficult times. Every is somehow affected by the flu. To encourage...blah..blah...blah... please allow students to make up any missed work without any doctor's note."

So the faculty in camp 1 say "wow. This is just great. Now students can miss class for whatever reason they want and they don't even need an excuse. Why doesn't the administration just say - classes are now officially optional." So, in short, camp 1 faculty are worried about students just skipping classes. Also, what if they miss a test? ARRRGGGGHHH.

Camp 2: Make sure you wash your hands

If I were to be in one camp, I think it would be this one. The faculty in this camp are of the belief that you should be sure to not spread the virus to others. For me, it's personal. Being a parent with the flu is like the 3rd circle of hell, you can't get a doctor's note from excusing you from your parenting jobs. Also, if I am sick, my wife is likely sick also.

So, camp 2 believes that it should be stressed that if you even think you have the flu, don't come to class. Seems sensible right? But then the students will get a free lunch with no supervision - wait, that is camp 1 talking. This is camp 2's turn to talk.

My Solution

This is so simple, I don't know why everyone doesn't do it. Here is my syllabus:

The only thing that really counts is the final exam (its cumulative). If you miss any of the regular semester exams, your final exam replaces that grade. No excuses needed (or wanted).

See. That fixed it. Do I think the final exam can fully evaluate what a student knows? Good enough for a grade, yes. I think it is better for the students to take several exams through the semester. This is just like cutting up your meat before you eat it (and before your pudding). It is not a good idea to stuff a huge piece of meat in your mouth.

I better go wash my hands again.

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Most responsible students are going to go to class. At least at my university, classes are viewed as optional anyway. Attendance isn't taken, but students go because they want to learn the stuff and not fall behind. Maybe it's different where you teach?

By Kevin Sooley (not verified) on 04 Sep 2009 #permalink