Midterm fiasco disrupts calculus course

by Alex Belser | 10/21/04 5:00am

Taking two midterms in one day is not most students' cup of tea. Having to retake one of them because it got lost is pretty close to a nightmare.

But an estimated 12 students in Math 8, an introductory calculus course, will have to do just that after their exams were lost Oct. 14. The group took the exam two hours early on that day due to a conflicting chemistry midterm later that evening.

After the early exam administration in a small Moore Hall classroom, a teaching assistant apparently moved the tests to the floor of Filene Auditorium, where the later testing was taking place. In the shuffle, Math 8 professor Carolyn Gordon did not see the box containing the earlier exams.

By the time Gordon and visiting professor Greg Leibon discovered the tests were missing, there was no sign of them in Moore.

"I was kicking myself," said Gordon, who came in to proctor at the end of the regular administration.

Leibon, also teaching a section of Math 8, said he thinks a janitor probably threw the tests away by accident, but wouldn't rule out the possibility that someone else may have taken them since the room was unlocked.

Both professors say they have attempted unsuccessfully to find the exams. A shorter, in-class exam will be given for both Math 8 sections on Monday, and students whose exams weren't lost will be able to take whichever grade is higher.

The students with the missing exams will take the higher grade from the Monday exam and next month's previously scheduled second midterm, according to the professors. In that case, the second midterm will count twice.

Some students were not happy about the mishap: "It's kind of unfair," said Jeanie Lau '08.

Others weren't so upset when they found out that the median grade on the exam was 64. But to do better this time around, they'll have to put in some extra study time.

Traditionally, Dartmouth's math and science classes have scheduled midterms outside of class time, but there is currently no framework in place to prevent scheduling conflicts since each academic department works autonomously.

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