Remember my colleague, the Nice Teacher who taught the other sections of precalculus and discrete math, and whose classes were easier than mine by a landslide?

He and I (along with my officemate) decided that our classes’ final precalculus exams should be around 75% common. We each submitted exam drafts, and then collaborated in order to decide on the final copy. He and my officemate rejected many of my suggestions for questions as being too hard, and I in turn remarked that they were being too gentle on the students. We ended up keeping many of the easier questions on the common part of the exam, and then I put the tough ones on my segment.

The results: in precalculus, my overall class average - even counting the section full of students who can’t add fractions - was a few points higher than either of the other instructors’, despite the fact that my exam was far more difficult. In discrete math (which only the Nice Teacher and I taught), the Nice Teacher was, well, nice enough to give formulas for the financial unit on the front page of the final, whereas I wasn’t. To be fair, the financial questions on my version of the exam were a bit less involved than were the financial questions on his - but then again, the formulas he gave were accompanied by explanations as to when to use them. Other than that - and the fact that I included a conditional probability question that he omitted - our exams were the same. The results, however, weren’t: my class average was 12% - more than half a standard deviation - higher than his. I should add that despite the fact that I was that much tougher as an instructor, very few of my discrete math students dropped my class.

In other, and possibly related, news, my contract was renewed for next term.