When Professor Reb Beatty of Maryland’s Anne Arundel Community College arrived at his accounting class to administer a test last week, he hardly could have imagined that he’d be the one getting outsmarted.
In a Sept. 20 Facebook post that’s since gone viral, Beatty explained that he’d told his students that they were allowed to bring in a 3-by-5 cheat sheet to use during the test.
Beatty, however, failed to specify the unit of measurement he was referring to.
A clever student noticed the loophole ― and milked it for all it was worth.
“My initial thought was that he wanted to get a few last minutes of cramming in before the exam started and this was something he put together to study,” Beatty told HuffPost. “After approximately a minute and some brief conversation, I realized that this was 3x5 feet and he had the intention of using it on the exam.”
Beatty said that he immediately referred to his syllabus “as well as other places where I provide test instructions” and discovered that he never specified inches in the measurement.
But Beatty wasn’t mad at his clever pupil. Rather, he was impressed.
“I am happy when my students are creative, when they think outside the box,” he told HuffPost. “And when, by doing so, they achieve great results.”
Beatty decided to move Bowen to the back of the classroom (“where there was sufficient space”) and allowed him to use his notes.
The professor wouldn’t tell HuffPost exactly what grade Bowen earned on the test, but said, “He did well.”
Beatty himself learned something very important from his student.
“I think this experience demonstrates that regardless of our position, we all make mistakes at certain times,” he said. “What is important is how we deal with the mistake and the ramifications.”
“I’m sure a lot of professors would have responded with something along the lines of, ‘Well, you know what I meant, now put it away,’ and therefore lost the opportunity to reward a student for the ingenuity he demonstrated, both in recognizing my error as well as putting that thing together,” he added.
Well said, prof!
This post was updated to include additional reporting from Elyse Wanshel.