Friday, November 18, 2016

The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome

Anyone who's had to deal with students will be familiar with the well-known problem that biologist Mike Adams discussed in his 1999 piece, "The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome", in the Annals of Improbable Research. 😊

As Mike noted,
"The basic problem can be stated very simply:
A student’s grandmother is far more likely to die suddenly just before the student takes an exam, than at any other time of year."
Based on his data, Mike observed that:
"Overall, a student who is failing a class and has a final coming up is more than 50 times more likely to lose a family member than is an A student not facing any exams. Only one conclusion can be drawn from these data. Family members literally worry themselves to death over the outcome of their relative's performance on each exam.
Naturally, the worse the student’s record is, and the more important the exam, the more the family worries; and it is the ensuing tension that presumably causes premature death."
I'll leave you to read the rest, and to find out why grandmothers are more susceptible to this problem than are grandfathers.

Enjoy Mike's research - and then make sure that you put a link to his paper on your course outlines!

© 2016, David E. Giles