Dot detects

Dot writes: I was engaged in some rather tedious admin – correcting the list of students for a course that I co-ordinate, which is open to students outside the School of English and which has had a rather fluid membership – when I spotted something rather odd. At each lecture an attendance sheet is circulated for the students to sign. On the last sheet (Monday’s), the spelling of one of the signatures, which was not cursive but in a clear, rather childish hand, conspicuously did not match the spelling of the name as I had typed it. I wondered if I had made a mistake and looked back at the previous sheet. Here, the signature was in a different, much more fluent hand, and the spelling did match the typed list. Then I looked back again, and found the same name signed in yet a third hand. Perhaps the student just alternated between formal and casual handwriting? No: not only the degree of cursiveness but also the slope and, most telling, the letter formations varied between the three different types of signature (for example, one formed a capital R without lifting the pen, but the most frequently appearing signature has the bow of the R as a separate stroke that starts well to the left of the down-stroke). It seems this student has been getting her friends to sign the sheet on her behalf.

Anyway, what am I going to do about it apart from feeling faintly pleased with myself? Answer: not a lot. If she hasn’t been attending the lectures she won’t do well in the assessment, and that seems penalty enough.


5 thoughts on “Dot detects

  1. Dot,

    You are becoming very Calvinist in assuming the depravity of human nature!

    Could there be another explanation? Like a student with a broken wrist or a student who is dyslexic? My son had classmate whose dyslexia was such that he had to dictate everything, even his Leaving Cert papers, and he got a university place.

  2. Dot

    Ian, I did wonder if there might be another explanation, which is why I’m not doing anything in particular about it. But I’m afraid I think my solution the most likely. There is a dominant signature that appears most frequently and that I suspect is the student’s own, since it is in the hand that recorded the student’s subject and e-mail address at the start of the course when this student had not yet formally registered. The other forms of the signature are interspersed with this dominant one. The mis-spelt signature appears only once.

  3. There may of course be other perfectly sensible explanations. Multiple personality disorder? Straight-up Jekyll and Hyde? Clones? The same student has come back from the future, and got stuck, and done this at least twice, and maybe also once moving forwards from the past. So there are now multiple versions of her roaming Dublin (each with the handwriting from that period of her life).

    It may all, thusly, be perfectly rationally and reasonably explained.

    I have the opposite problem (in a sense: I, too, have issues with students not turning up; and I, too, sense/hope this is only going to come back and bite them on the bum). I have two students sharing the same name, in two different sections of the same class.

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