A student of assistant professor Reb Beatty's Financial Accounting class at Anne Arundel Community College became an internet sensation recently when he found an absolutely genius loophole to the professor's exam rules.
Professor Beatty told all his students in the class that they were permitted to bring a 3x5 notecard for the first test of the semester. Unfortunately, Beatty forgot to specify one very important thing - the unit of measurement. He was hilariously reminded of how important it is to be specific when one of his students, Elijah Bowen, came in with an enormous notecard that measured 3x5 feet instead of inches.
Here's how Beatty explained it in his Facebook post:
First test day of the semester and as always, I allow a 3x5 notecard. Today, a student shows up with this. Sure enough, it is 3x5... feet. As precise as I am, apparently I never specified inches and therefore yes, it was allowed. Well played and lesson learned for me. @elijahbowen_ #aacc #audacious#professorlife #accounting #winner
Edit (22 September, 4 pm): With all of the attention that this has received, I wanted to clarify a couple of things: (1) Using a 3x5 inch (or foot) card/poster in an accounting course is just as much - if not more - a preparatory tool than a test aid. The approach is that the process itself will force the student to organize his/her thoughts, put material into terminology that he/she understands, et cetera. It is NOT cheating, or going easy on students, or however you want to reference it. An accounting exam, designed effectively, requires application of concepts and proficiency in the material, not just regurgitating facts. In a time-sensitive environment (such as this), a student will not be successful, regardless of the size of test aid, if he/she cannot apply concepts to various practical situations. I have allowed note cards for years and have had a perfect raw score on this particular exam MAYBE once or twice (none in the past two years, and that's as far back as I checked). (2) This student is a male, not a female as referenced by many.
To be fair, if you're teaching a subject like Financial Accounting, you've got to assume your students are probably pretty clever.
When he finally realized his mistake, Bowen says the professor took it pretty well. "He looked at me and said, ‘You are right.'"
"My initial thought was that he wanted to get a few last minutes of cramming in before the exam started … after approximately a minute I realized this was 3×5 feet, and he had the intention of using it on the exam," says professor Beatty. He also added, "I appreciate someone who A) had the intelligence to recognize this loophole and B) the audacity to put that together and bring it in."
Here's Beatty with his two adorable daughters.
As he explained in the update to his Facebook post (see above), preparing and filling a notecard that big might seem like cheating, but the sheer amount of work involved in figuring out what is and isn't essential information, then writing it in your own words, and finally organizing it all is enough to ensure the student learned the concepts properly. In the end, isn't that what good teaching is all about?