You hurt my feelings!

I've been debating whether to blog the latest outbreak of Stu Dent or not. But I have to get it out of my system, so here it goes.

Last exercise session of the year I was planning on doing my work Christmas Cards. Okay, I'm out late, but it was an easy exercise and I didn't expect them to need much help.

After introducing the exercise Stu comes up for a consultation. I have office hours where this can be done in private, but they are at 8.30 in the morning and Stu is not among the early risers. S/he wanted to protest - I took off so many points on that last exercise, and s/he worked soooooo long on it.

I explained that the points are for successfully completing and documenting exercises, not a function of hours worked. Stu hands in reports that are wildly chaotic and written in incomplete, misspelled sentences. Stu often hands in the exercises late, or in the wrong area of Moodle, or in the wrong format because s/he couldn't figure out how to get a pdf produced. Stu is nominally in the fourth semester and repeating Computing 2.

Stu pouted. But this was so much work! And I always take so many points off. I fire up Moodle and pull up a student report (Moodle is a blessing - all of Stu's activity and my comments on one page). Out of 15 lecture summaries Stu has handed in exactly 0. I inquired, politely, twice as to why nothing is being handed in? This counts for 20% of the final grade! Well, Stu was sick and (long string of excuses). I state that I just do not care for excuses, but work done.

"Don't get excited!" Stu interjects. Hmm. "You really hurt my feelings with your comments, I'm human, you know". Now, I admit that I really must pull myself together when correcting Stu's work, as it is often so bizarrely wrong. But I am always polite. I asked Stu for an example exercise in which I had caused hurt feelings.

Stu suggested one, and I pulled that one up. I had written "your solution is completely and utterly wrong". Yes, I said, this is a statement of fact. "But I worked so hard on it!" Stu exclaims. It was a method to determine if a number is a prime number or not. It is a trivial exercise, to be found in all books on computing and a million times online. There were 4 errors in 5 lines of code - 2 not serious and 2 fatal. A variable was declared and not used, and the testing did not stop at the square root of n. That was just cosmetics. But the test for divisible was the wrong way around! Instead of n%i Stu had written i%n, which was never true! And even if it had been true, the Boolean guard was set exactly wrong. This code could never have been tested, as it never returns a correct answer, not even for 2.

Stu kept this up for over half an hour. The guys in the front row were trying hard to hide their mirth - no one likes Stu, who complains constantly and just doesn't get most of what class is about. No one will work with Stu - I often make loners try, but they do this exactly once. I finally got Stu to sit down and get started on the next exercise, and then went around pointedly speaking with all of the other groups. Didn't get my Christmas cards written, but had some great conversations with people.

Stu is in grave danger of failing, and wanted more points. No luck, Stu. Try effort and not excuses. Or maybe you could just switch majors to something like horticulture, although you have to be able to organize there, too.

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