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Is There Anything People Won’t Supersize?

Even though McDonald’s stopped supersizing its fries and drinks in 2004, apparently the idea is alive and well.

You’ve probably seen the supersized version of games such as chess, Jenga, or Connect 4.

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But a supersized cheat sheet?

Professor Reb Beatty of Maryland’s Anne Arundel Community College told his accounting class that they were allowed to bring in a “3×5” cheat sheet to use during the test.

 Beatty, however, failed to specify the unit of measurement he was referring to.

So one enterprising young man (I’m not surprised it was a guy), decided to create a 3 by 5 foot cheat sheet, as shown at the top of the post.

When I first heard about this, one of my first thoughts was ‘where is he going to keep such a large cheat sheet?’. If the room had traditional student desks, it would not fit completely on one desk, and even if it was balanced on one desk it seems like it would get in the way of other students. But based on the picture, there did not appear to be such issues.

It seemed like the professor handled the situation with humor and good judgment, since technically the student had not done anything wrong. Plus, the student obviously put a lot of time into preparing the cheat sheet, and I am sure all that time working with the accounting material helped the student to learn the material as well.

It sounds like the student did well on the exam, scoring a “high B or a low A.” and only referred to the cheat sheet a couple of times.

I do not allow cheat sheets during my accounting exams, but I do provide practice problems prior to the test so that students get a sense of what the exam will be like.

However, my math teacher does allow a two-sided sheet of notes (I think he specified notebook sized sheets), and I have found it extremely useful. I spend quite a bit of time deciding what to put on the cheat sheet, and it helps me to focus my studying. And just like the accounting student above, all of that time working with the subject material helps to reinforce the concepts and gives me added confidence going in to the test.

I know it sounds quite inconsistent to say how helpful I find a cheat sheet when I am I the role of a student, while at the same time I note that I do not allow them in my role as a teacher. I really don’t have a good explanation for the inconsistency, so it may be I’ll have to revisit such a policy for the classes that I teach.

Maybe I’ll take a poll of my students and see what they think, but I think I have a pretty good idea what such a poll will tell me – students love cheat sheets.

So I may follow-up on this post in a few months if I change my policy to let you know what the results are.

And who knows, I might even be able to turn this into a research project and get it published…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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