9

I am setting up mid-term exam paper for engineering students.

As a new Assistant Professor, I will like to know is it okay to put "All the Best with your exam" or "Happy Problem Solving" at the end of the question paper?

Will it be frowned upon by my colleagues or taken sarcastically by my students?

3
  • 6
    I prefer, "May the odds be ever in your favor."
    – RoboKaren
    Feb 7, 2017 at 17:55
  • 2
    I prefer "Here come dat boi!"
    – JeffE
    Feb 8, 2017 at 3:32
  • When I studied CS in Germany many exams had something like "good luck" written on them. Although it was nice now that i think about it I never really perceived or thought about it at the time because I was focused on starting to do the exam itself.
    – asquared
    Feb 8, 2017 at 13:22

6 Answers 6

8

As a student, I'd appreciate my professor wishing me the best for the exam.

If I were to make a suggestion though, it'd be better to write "All the best" at the start of the paper, right after the general instructions section.

Even better if you could drop in before the start of the exam and wish the students in person.

0
5

"Happy Problem Solving" is inappropriate. Saying or writing that would be trying to forcefully inject artificial cheerfulness into a high-stakes situation that is, for many if not most students, decidedly stressful and not happy. There is no way that it would do anything to lighten up the atmosphere or portray you as an empathetic teacher who is sensitive to what their students are going through when they sit to write an exam; quite the opposite, I should think - it could only serve to highlight the asymmetry between the students' stressful situation and your relaxed and "happy" demeanor as a professor giving an exam, ostensibly to share with your students the pure joy of problem solving. Resentment seems like the most likely emotion this will evoke.

4
  • Depends, many do not take too much stress about tests. But then, if it is their last test, then there is a huge stakes, because not passing will mean not graduating until the exams can be retaken, although passing is very simple. Or if the persons stipend demands some minimum grades, then it might be a stressful thing. For me "Happy Problem Solving" gives gross vibes, as it is more fitting for a times table exam for 7 year old ones. Feb 8, 2017 at 7:42
  • 3
    Although I wouldn't write "Happy Problem Solving" on an exam nor recommend the practice to others, I think "grossly inappropriate" should be reserved for something considerably worse, e.g. including nude photos in the exam. Feb 9, 2017 at 2:51
  • 1
    @PeteL.Clark point taken - edited. That was grossly inappropriate of me :-)
    – Dan Romik
    Feb 9, 2017 at 3:49
  • @PeteL.Clark: I sincerely hope that was purely hypothetical (but some of the stories I read around here make me wonder). Feb 9, 2017 at 15:05
4

It actually does not matter that much, as the students appreciate the quality of teaching and the professor's ability to solve their doubts. The students like it if the questions in the exam reflect the material discussed in the class.i.e. if they are able to solve the questions without any extra knowledge except the material discussed in the class. The "All the Best" slogan does not hurt but nor does it help.

2
  • 1
    Probably better to just say than to actually write in the paper.
    – Raydot
    Feb 7, 2017 at 21:09
  • That sounds alright
    – NinJA
    Feb 15, 2017 at 23:58
2

Your goal with adding such a sentence to the exam sheet is to make the students relax a bit. You do that be making them feel familiar with the situation, remind them that although the situation is somewhat artificial, this is the same material you covered in class, and that it is going to be all right.

To do that, you need to write something which the students will feel is a greeting from you. That is, your 'teacher persona', the impression you give your students.

So: What are the students' general impression of you? If you are an empathic teacher, worried about the well being of your students, 'All the best..' is probably good. But if you are generally perceived as a very strict lecturer, it would not be well received. If you are perceived as a bit nerdy, a pun relating to the subject could be good. If you have a phrase you often use in lectures, use that.

1

My personal favorite:

"Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer."

Charles Caleb Colton

Excellent effect on the class every time...

1

I personally like including 1. well-wishes, and 2. a joke to begin my exams, my apologies to Dan Romik. My eyes in the sky tell me a number of students (those who scored high, those who scored low alike, and those who scored somewhere in between) have no strong opinions on the well-wishes, and the jokes are well-received, even if they induce some eye-rolling. I have no idea if the jokes actually reduce exam anxiety, much less boost the scores of the students.

3
  • Your apology is accepted, but my answer doesn't say anything about jokes being inappropriate, and I can well imagine a joke being useful in such a situation if it is in good taste. "Happy Problem Solving" is neither a joke nor in good taste for the situation in my opinion.
    – Dan Romik
    Feb 8, 2017 at 6:04
  • @DanRomik Sorry, I forgot to mention that I include well-wishes as well. Feb 9, 2017 at 3:49
  • Thanks, but again I don't see the connection to my answer, which only discusses the use of the specific phrase "happy problem solving".
    – Dan Romik
    Feb 9, 2017 at 3:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .