Being a college professor is certainly not the easiest job, especially when there are many students who'd rather be anywhere else in the world than in the classroom. Many professors believe that these students just need some proper motivation, however even they admit that's not always the case. Bored Panda has compiled a list of professor's stories (and a couple of students) who agree that some students are just, well, not that smart.
Scroll below to read these cringe-worthy stories and don't forget to share your opinion in the comments!
Image credits: Wavebreakmedia (not the actual photo)
I'm a French Teacher, so I'm not sure if this counts but here goes: everone in the class had a fairly lengthy piece of French homework, and one student put the entire thing in Google translate, but translated it to Spanish.
This happened in high school. Senior year.
Our teacher was talking about the phases of the moon and this girl raised her hand and ask if other countries have moons too. She thought the moon was only for the US.
Not a professor but back when I was in highschool; I was a library aide and I was walking into classrooms distributing some books and I walked into a class with the professor in the middle of an angry lecture on plagiarism because one of the students turned in an essay that started with "In my 25+ years of experience in this field."
A student in my economics class started his final essay with this:
“We are all familiar with the country, Africa. Yet at the same time we know little about them. All we know is that it is hot there, African Americans live there and they are really poor. This begs the question, why is Africa that poor?”
It was just so jam-packed with stupid I had to stop grading for 24 hours.
Edit: For the record, this was indeed a college student.
I didn’t believe any student was dumb - he/she may only have needed the right motivation. Until I met RJ. RJ was dumb. RJ didn’t realize that the chicken we eat was the same as the animal. RJ was 21 at the time.
High School Teacher. Many years ago, I was showing my students clips from Romeo and Juliet. Student stared at the screen in total bewilderment for a few minutes. Then she said, serious as a cancer diagnosis, "How can he be in this movie? He died in Titanic."
I had a student plagiarize on the final exam. It was a take home, essay/short answer exam. They knew to cite any sources, and to put it in their own words.
The kicker? This particularly bright bulb plagiarized me. The professor. She tried to pass off MY WORDS as her own.
I once gave a university student a C on a philosophy paper. She looked at me and said, “Do you know who my father is?”
To this day, I don’t know who he was, but her grade did not change.
May or may not be dumb, but my friend and I went to her uncle's house which had this piece of paper framed and put on the wall. It was a 0/20 on a true or false quiz. Her uncle was a professor and was just too impressed by such an achievement that he had to put it in his home.
One of my students told me he was going to be 21 when he graduated high school. I asked him why. He explained that he ages TWO YEARS every year. He is 15 turning 16 so that is 2 years. He is probably right that he will not graduate HS til age 21, but not for the reason he mentioned lol
Not a professor, but I worked at my university’s tutoring center while in college. Had one student who was a sports science major and would come in for tutoring for every single class. He had to do this because he was barely literate, as in reading MAYBE on a first-grade level. One of his assignments was to write about an important African-American figure. He asked me what African-American meant. The student was African-American.
For the record, I don’t blame him for being dumb. I blame every single teacher he ever had whose responsibility it was to ensure that he was learning, and instead just passed him on so he would be someone else’s problem.
I had a student who wrote an art history paper about Leonard Davin Chi. Didn't even run that sucker through a spellcheck or anything. Referred to him as that throughout the entire paper.
Happened in the first week of a college anthropology course:
Prof: "Let's list a few basic differences between modern humans and animals"
Student: "We have a heart beat"
One of my husband's colleagues said a kid came up to him after an exam and said, "I didn't know the answers to the questions you asked on the test, so I made up my own questions and answered them." The professor said, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard, and when I go to lunch, I'm going to tell all my friends."
I had a student this year who plagiarised in an assignment ABOUT plagiarism... This included copy-pasting the definition of plagiarism from Wikipedia.
One student asking the difference between psychopath and psychologist, in criminology class.
I am not a professor, but I watched one facepalm after my classmate said this:
"Ugh! I don't even know what a verb IS!"
This was in an advanced linguistics course for would-be English teachers.
I'm late and not a professor, but I share this one any chance I get. 10th grade, I had a girl in my class ask the teacher how long it would take for a submarine to travel from the Florida to California... going underneath the country.
Had a kid skip my class every day. I had a working discussion section one day every other week where the students would work on one of the homework assignments together in groups -- the kid would show up during the last 10 minutes of class to join a group and put his name on an assignment. Only time I ever saw him.
So I gave him a 0 for all group work and a 0 for participation (basically just some free points because I'd randomly call on people to talk about the readings)
After he gets his grade, he wants to argue about the fact that I punished him even though I said I wasn't going to take attendance.
No, motherfu*ker -- I'm punishing you because you didn't do shit, and you tried to scam off of other kids that did.
My mom isn’t a professor, but she sometimes supervises college students who study under her in a practicum setting. She was on a home visit with a student once (she’s a social worker), and the family was showing my mom and the student around their farm. The matriarch of the family was gathering chicken eggs and commented on how small some of them were. The student suggested placing them back in the hen’s nest so that they would have more time to grow. This senior in college thought that eggs grow bigger the longer they can remain in the nest, like vegetables or something. This is also in a very rural place where probably half the population has some kind of farm or livestock.
I teach a class on the history of Psychology. When covering the chapter on behaviorism, and discussing the ideas of its founder, John Watson, who was a determinist (did not believe in free will) - a student asked me in the middle of class that if he was a determinist, why did he advocate free will in the Sherlock Holmes book?
I was really taken aback by that one.
I wouldn't say dumb, but definitely baffling and annoying. She had somehow gotten all the way to college still believing that weirdly and creepily exaggerated coy-little-girl flirting would get her what she wanted, including with female faculty. It was cringey to see in action - literally tilting her head to the side, playing with her hair, pivoting her leg back and forth mannerisms, combined with semi-childish speech patterns while glancing up through her eyelashes. Definitely "I'm only talking to this one in front of witnesses" territory.
She told me that she was reading and studying every night and still not making progress on tests and needed help. I explained how to make written study materials to help her absorb information better. She said she'd done that and reviewed the materials regularly, but still wasn't seeing results. Genuinely concerned and puzzled, I asked her to bring me her materials next class period and we'd go over them to make sure they were accurate and useful. She agreed.
Next class period rolls around. She announces, with even more exaggerated mannerisms, that wouldn't you know it - she was so frustrated with her score on her last test (returned before our earlier conversation) that she'd thrown her study materials into the trash in a fit of anger and they were all gone. Almost as if they had never existed.
I looked her in the eye and said, "I think you should consider, then, that self-discipline may be playing a role in your grades in my class." She huffed and pouted in outrage, and I never saw her again.
What makes me sad is that clearly someone, almost certainly her family, had taught her that these behaviors worked. No one sticks to a behavior that strongly unless she has had success with it.
Not a prof but we had a creative writing assignment where we were given a piece of paper with a list of 5 unusual words to use in a poem.
I read my poem, which used all the words, and a girl went on an angry rant over the fact that I had used a bunch of obscure words that she didn't understand.
Not a professor, but someone in my class asked, "After a C-section, do they put the baby back in?"
A friend was substitute teaching a high school math class and was to proctor a test for the students. At one point during the test a student got up to ask if he knew what 8 x 7 was, but before he could respond another student said " sit down....he doesn't know the answer to that....he's a substitute teacher not a math teacher."
Not a professor, but I was helping out a younger friend’s classmate revise for his O-level (15-16 year olds) maths exam.
He had some past papers with him, so I looked through them and got him started with a simple problem to try and gauge how much he knew. The question provided some measurements in millimetres, asked you to do some basic number crunching, and finally provide the answer in metres.
He attempted it for a few minutes, but didn’t cover any ground, so he asked for help. I then went through the number crunching with him step by step and prompted him to do the final conversion to metres thinking it would be trivial.
He stared at me blankly.
Me: “How many millimetres are there in a metre?”
Student: “I don’t know.”
Me: “What does ‘milli’ mean?”
I take out his foot ruler and place it in front of him.
Me: “Show me a millimetre on this ruler.”
Me: “What do the lines represent?”
He gives me some bullshit answer that makes no sense.
Me: “Have you never used a ruler before!?”
I then proceed to explain to him what the millimetre and centimetre marks on the ruler are. I also explain to him that they are 1/1000 and 1/100 of a metre respectively and that the words “milli” and “centi” imply as much.
Me: “Okay, now that you know what these are and what proportion of a metre they are, can you show me how large a metre is approximately?”
I expected him to stretch his arms out and just say “about this much”.
Student: “Umm... from here to [nearby shopping mall]?”
I just stared at him in disbelief. I was honestly shocked. The shopping mall he referred to was at least 1-2 kilometres away. His exam was in 3 days. How did he even make it this far in school?
When my mom was a history teacher at a local high school, they went on a trip to Spain.
One girl, let's call her Megan, was not quite a clever student. They went to a restaurant to eat and Megan was looking at the menu. She was frowning the whole time and made some "hmm, hmm" noises and looked like she was struggling with the language. My mom told her there was an English menu on the other page, because she didn't understand Spanish.
3 minutes later she still looked confused. My mom asked her what was wrong.
Megan then ask my mom why the English language was so different than they learned at school. Megan didn't understand a word.
My mom looked at her menu, went quiet for a second and told megan she was reading the German menu.
Actually one of the smarter kids in my class. Ethics, awareness of social norms...not so much. He sent me an email after the semester ended, asking if I'd mind telling my next semester class that his digital textbook was available for sale. Oh, and that it's a PDF so if multiple people want it, he can sell them all copies. I responded that I admire his entrepreneurial spirit, but it probably wasn't a good idea to solicit his professor's help in starting a piracy-based book selling business.
As a GA teaching freshman English, I had a couple instances of cheating that left me speechless. First, my university uses an online plagiarism checker and the students know this. With one student, over half of his essay was copied from a website. He looked genuinely shocked when I called him out on it, and then told me that his mother wrote the paper for him. I explained that his mother writing his paper was also cheating. Then he asked if he could get credit for the half that wasn't from a website.
Another time, the students had to analyze a movie showing how it used the Hero's Journey as plot structure. This was an easy assignment seeing as how nearly every modern movie uses this structure. The student copied the Wikipedia summary of Aladdin word for word, and he denied doing it. He argued it was a coincidence that his entire essay was the exact same as Wikipedia's.
History. Prof. is talking about some expedition or something and mentions Antarctica, is standing in front of a world map. Girl raises her hand. Asks, "excuse me, but where IS Antarctica?"
Prof. stands there unable to answer for a few seconds, then raises his arm to the map and goes, "right heeeeeereeeeeeee!" While running his hand under Antarctica and making exaggerated Vanna White motions.
Girl goes, "oh, ok!"
I was a little scared. More for the professor. He had that, "I am severely underpaid" expression.
Not a professor. In the midst of an English Renaissance Literature course, one of my fellow students raised her hand:
“Dr. [Professor]? I am just so...like, how did these people survive without Wally World?”
She meant WalMart. She wanted to know how Renaissance-era people survived without WalMart.
Our professor stared at her for a couple seconds, and then moved on with his lecture as if he hadn’t heard.
Not a professor. Heard some arguing from the chemistry class with some one shouting "but Mercury is a planet! How can can there be two Mercurys?"
I don't know if this qualifies as dumb or is closer to stupid, but...I had a student who didn't show up for class regularly, and her grade was going to be a C, maybe a D depending on her final exam. What made her dumb, however, was how she tried to cheat on the final exam. She reached down into her bag and took out her phone, put it on the desk, typed something into it, looked at the test, looked at her phone, looked back at her test, rechecked her phone, then answered whatever question she was looking up. Just to make sure, I let her do it one more time. I was watching her THE WHOLE TIME, and she was completely oblivious to it. She got an F.
Not a professor but in my psychology class there was this one girl that would ask questions every three minutes, not the good questions either you know? like the ones where the teacher didn't full on explain things or anything that would make the discussion better just the type of dumb questions where the teacher had literally said what she was asking about two minutes ago.
Anyways, we were viewing a map of cultural stereotypes and in Mexico it said "Maids and Gardeners" (which, okay, fair enough, its just a stereotype) but this girl legit looks at it, looks at the teacher and says: "That doesn't make any sense because Mexicans don't have gardens. How can they have gardeners?"
As a student, I rolled my eyes. As a Mexican, I burst out laughing. jfc, I can't even be mad, I know she's not racist, she's just ignorant as hell.
I teach computer engineering at a community college. One of my courses last term had a project component, where every student had a unique project. I posted my own project as an example. (I enrolled in a similar course a few years ago as a professional development activity.)
One student handed in my project, after taking my name off, of course. My feedback included “At what point did you convince yourself that I wouldn’t recognize my own code?”
His final grade ... well below 50.
In freshman year a girl asked my history teacher if George Washington or Thomas Jefferson invented the lightbulb.
In sophomore year a girl asked if Spain was in the US and the guy behind her said "We don't need to know this! We're American!"
I live in the midwest
I’m not a professor, but I studied modern languages at university and met a girl who had managed to spend an entire year abroad (a compulsory part of the course) living in the country where her language was spoken, working at a job with local people, and sharing a flat with three local people, and after the year was up her language skills had not improved one jot, and her flatmates had to talk to her in English because she couldn’t understand them otherwise.
I mean, I fully appreciate that some people find it much harder than others to learn a foreign language, that’s not actually the part I find dumb. The dumb part is getting into £30K of debt and spending 4 years of her life on a degree, then putting absolutely zero effort into actually learning the thing you’re paying to learn. Actually, to be that bad at the language after a full year you’d have to make an active effort to avoid it, never turn on a television or pick up a magazine, spend all your time in English and Irish themed pubs and ignore anyone who tried to talk to you.
I was invigilating a 2hr exam once where students had been given very strong hints about the two essay questions beforehand. A student bustled-in making an incredible racket an hour late. Handed his completed essays in 10 minutes later, written on completely different paper to the stuff given out during the exam, and smirked and waved to everyone as he left. His lecturer marked it anyway and gave him 0% for both - essentially failing him - as the student had answered completely the wrong questions despite the hints, and he figured reporting the student for cheating was 'too much paperwork'. The student appealed the score, threatened the department head when the 0% was upheld, and was expelled.
I had a student who tried to argue that plagiarism wasn't real after ganking the text of a one page paper on velociraptors straight from a top Google search result for them. "But if you read something, then you're just taking the knowledge and thumping it back into a word processor, what's the difference?" She was a criminal justice major.
Not a professor, but a high school math teacher. I had a student who answered a FaceTime call during the final exam. I just took her phone, told the person on the other end “Not a smart idea” and hung up on him. I let her continue the test.
Then I caught her cheating off the guy next to her twice, so I failed her.
And if that wasn’t enough, during the next period’s final exam, she burst into the room on her phone yelling, “‘Sup Mr. AlwaysShamo!” I just yelled “Go away!” and she left. Kid was so self-absorbed and clueless.
When I was working as a graduate assistant, the Dean of the graduate school where I worked was reviewing the capstone projects of two police officers who were about to graduate with Master's Degrees in Criminal Justice. She quickly discovered that they had plagiarized. She figured this out because when she opened the electronic documents, there was a significant amount of text that was hyperlinked. The links brought her to Wikipedia.
My wife teaches public speaking. The first speech in that class is just a simple narrative speech. Tell a story from your life. She had a freshman tell the class about a time he helped his boss in high school kidnap the boss's child after he had lost a custody battle. The student clearly thought the story would make him look cool and badass. Everyone in the class was horrified.
In an international relations class:
Teacher: Can anyone name a country in the Middle East where people don't consider themselves Arab? Student: Saudi Arabia.
The worst part? He was Persian.
I'm not a professor, but I did grade exams, homework (mainly worksheets), and some papers for a few professors back in college.
Hands down, the dumbest student I ever saw was one who turned in a photocopy of his friend's homework. Yes, a straight-up, minimally edited Xerox. He had made the tiiiiiiiniest effort to trace over the first few answers in pen, but had stopped well before the end of the first page. Of a 5-plus page worksheet.
The best part was that his friend's name was still clearly visible on the first page of the worksheet. This guy hadn't even bothered to obscure it -- he just put a SINGLE LINE through it and wrote his own name next to it.
I’m not a professor, but a brother in my fraternity won the “most likely to be serving fries at McDonald’s” superlative at the end of the year.
He genuinely thought he earned the award because he liked french fries so much.
During an oral exam (basic engineering electronics) a girl could not answer a single question. So I ask her simpler questions. I bring close the oscilloscope and point at the power switch - it was pretty clear it was a switch as it was written in bold letters ON/OFF - and ask her what was it? Answer - fuse
We were discussing the three most common phases of matter--solids, liquids, and gases. Using water as the example, I asked a student to tell me what we call the solid phase of water. He replied, "Oil!"
I was dumbstruck, but mine was only temporary...
While I'm not a professor, I did encounter a student in a biology class once that was a gem. She once asked if rocks were living things. Then a few weeks later, discovered that tuna was a fish...and not just a food...
Not a professor, but a student....My first semester of college I took a communications course and on the first day we introduced ourselves and what we potentially wanted to do as a career and how proper communication is important in that field. My classmate shared that he wanted to be like the guys on the show Entourage. Confused and unfamiliar with the show my professor asked him to elaborate. He went onto explain how he and his group of friends essentially wanted to be a paid groupies - partying, traveling and sleeping with woman on someone else’s dime. When asked which one of his friends was going become a famous actor for them to leach off of, he said that they “hadn’t figured that part out yet”. It’s been a decade, I wonder how that career aspiration has turned out for him......
I remember going on a bus trip with some student to a lecture and book signing event in Iowa City. As we were driving down the Interstate, surrounded by cornfields, one of the students yelled, "Who in the HELL eats all this CORN!"
Not a professor, but I used to TA for a post-graduate ethics in accounting course. I once received a paper that was literally a cut and paste of a wikipedia article. I figured this out by the fact that they didn't remove the footnote markers so there were a bunch of blue numbers and  marks throughout the paper.
He protested the zero he received, loudly, in front of the entire class so I pulled up the wikipedia page on the projector and just started reading his paper.
I once had a classmate who thought we didn’t know the world was round until we invented planes.
I'm currently in a certification program for baking and pastry. Last fall I was taking a cake decorating class and one of our assignments was to visit and bakery, try one or more of their baked goods and write your experience about the visit. It was literally you writing your own Yelp review. That's it. No word count or anything. Just a review. One of the guys in my class plagiarized a review he found online.
This was just a one time thing, because this kid is a pretty sharp student otherwise.
Im a flight instructor and was trying to teach my student how to find your groundspeed while flying. To do this, you take two points (towns usually) that you know the distance between and time how long it takes to fly between them.
"Ok, bob, that took 7 minutes to fly between Bobsonville and Bobsville. The distance is 10 nautical miles, what is our groundspeed?"
"No, your speed"
"Yeah, 5 minutes"
"So, since it took 7 minutes to fly 10 miles then our speed is such that it took 5 minutes?"
Not a professor, but I tutored athletes for $10/hour at a D1 school. Two stories, same guy:
"What does 'colonialism' mean?" I tried to explain a concept spanning thousands of years of human history in a sentence. Double checked with his athletic counselor and yes, English is his first language.
"What does 'delinquency' mean?" It's for his class called "Juvenile Delinquency" We're 2/3 of the way through the semester. He's been taking this class for months now. Attendance is mandatory for athletes so I KNOW he's been to this class.
The sad part is that he was a product of terrible public schools his whole life and was told since puberty when he shot up to ~7ft that as an athlete, school was optional. And damned if he didn't graduate with the same degree as me. We walked next to each other at graduation.
Not a professor but in my statistics class a girl asked if changing the minus to a plus would change the answer.
Not a negative to a positive, like she wasn't questioning how negatives worked. She sincerely wanted to know if changing from subtraction to addition would change the answer. To the professors credit she answered with a kind yes and only a slight pause.
Not a professor but a fellow classmates of mine was in my chemistry course. They would go on rants about "Energies" I was very confused as I tried to deduce what energies they meant (Kinetic, Thermal, etc). Turns out they are believe in some magic spirits despite majoring in sciences.
Not a professor, but during orientation someone mentioned the writing assignment that was due for students in a specific first year program. One guy asked, genuinely, "Hey, do we really have to write that paper or can we have someone write that for us?"
The leader responded, "No...you have to write the paper."
"Ugh, why would I do that? I have the money to just pay some guy. That's what I did in high school, pssh."
He was 100% serious.
I was a TA for an ecology course. I was trying to explain complete metamorphosis by talking about butterflies. The student didn't know caterpillars turned into butterflies. I suppose you could go through life without knowing, but this was an upper division course at a prestigious university...
She did not come to a single class the entire semester. She never once contacted me, never once responded to my emails, never turned in a paper or any assignment.
I was having office hours between the final class and when their exams were due, and she comes to me and asks what she needs to do to get at least a B-.
A girl in my earth science class asked "do the oceans go to the center of the earth?" 17 years old.
Not a professor, and it didn't happen in college as well. But in my fourth year of highschool (VWO for all the Dutch people here) a girl asked the teacher what nazi's were. Note that we had already discussed the second World War in second year of highschool and this is the Netherlands where the second World War is often discussed in all kind of schools during our remembrance day.
I am a non-traditional (read: really a lot older than my cohort) student and the bulk of my classes are online. Nearly every one has discussion board posts or peer review assignments that count towards a hefty percentage of grades. I am appalled at the writing skills of some of these people who are taking upper division classes. Not just typos and misspells...things like, "I ringed the doorbell." Repeatedly. From native English speakers.
I'm not a professor, but the "dumbest"/weirdest thing I ever witnessed in college was a student who had to do a presentation on "Objectivity in Science Reporting", a project she had voluntarily chosen, might I add. She had been provided with reading material by the professor a few weeks in advance. On the day of the presentation, she walked in front of the class, unpacked her things, seemed to be preparing, then sat down in front of us and proceeded to do absolutely nothing. After a few moments of silence, the professor asked what the problem was, and she said, "The texts were in English. I only speak German.", followed by her continuing to just sit there and do nothing.
I'm not sure why she bothered to position herself in front of us, knowing that she didn't have anything to present anyway, nor do I know why she didn't inform the professor of the language barrier, let alone why she had signed up for a course that worked exclusively with English material in the first place. I do know, however, that it took a few more minutes of her just sitting there quietly before the professor told her to go back to her seat.
I'm not a professor, but my roommate freshman year of college was pretty dumb. We were at a private liberal arts university, and part of our frosh seminar class was attending one of the "deans' lectures" and writing a paper about it. It was a gimme A. She decided not to attend any of the deans' lectures. They posted the videos of the lectures online, and people who didn't physically attend could watch one and write the paper for 90% credit or so. She elected not to watch anything, just pick a title of one and write about it. The title of the lecture she picked was "The Value of a Liberal Arts Education." She wrote about the value of a liberal education, as in liberal vs conservative and was so pissed when she got an F on the paper and completely couldn't understand why. I don't think she ever did.
A few semesters ago, I had two students in a statistics course not know how to do division using a calculator -- they didn't know what order to press the buttons in.
Talking about Somali Pirates. Student couldn't believe they wielded ak47s and used pontoon boats, thought they were the flagship-and-cannonball types straight from Pirates of the Caribbean
Not a professor. But back when i took drivers ed, the teacher asked if anyone knew what the raised bumps between lanes were in the roads. A guy raised his hand, was called on, and said in all seriousness, “for blind people so they stay in their lane.”
Everyone turned and stared at him in silence. The teacher had this look on his face like, dafuck? Then everyone started laughing and his buddy next to him whacked him in the arm like, you’re joking...but he just turned to his friend with his hands like 🤷🏻♀️ so the teacher set him straight. He never raised his hand in class again.
Not a prof but in my first year in a class with 300+ students we had an assignment called PeerScholar. We had to write about a short maybe 1000 word argument for/against legalizing weed, then you would look at 5 other peoples work and give them feedback, and 5 people would look at your work and give them feedback (you were also graded based on how good your feedback was).
One person's argument was hilarious, I have a screenshot somewhere in the depths of my Gyazo account but one paragraph his argument was talking about how the economy would collapse from weed becoming legal cause everyone would be so high all the time they couldn't work. I'm pretty sure he just wrote some last minute shit essay to get some marks since the final draft has the most marks but it was so hilariously bad.
Not a professor but a TA. I don't think I ever had genuinely dumb students, it's just that some people adjust more easily when moving from high school to university than others.
In particular, if you were "naturally" smart, you could just coast through high school. Material was presented slowly and frequently enough that missing a class here or there didn't really matter. Not so in university.
For a Physics 101 lab course for pre-med students, this one student regularly came 45 minutes late to a 2-hour lab. So he'd miss the discussion at the beginning of the lab session where I'd discuss the task at hand and common pitfalls to avoid. Then he'd wonder why he wasn't able to finish on time and why he struggled figuring out why his lab experiment didn't turn out the way he expected.
A few years ago, I had a student turn in a term paper titled "Mental Disroders." They then went on to misspell 'disorder' two different ways in the first sentence.
A student once threatened to sue me over the definition of the terms necessary and sufficient that he had mixed up in an exam. No biggie to mix them up (actually, for a math major it might be), but loudly threatening to sue me over an age old textbook definition in an exam review session was kind of stupid. It did entertain all other students who where present.
Another student once requested letters of recommendation for 5 of the top 10 masters programs in Europe while being the second worst in his class of several hundred graduates.
I'm not a teacher but my dad is a college professor and he often has pretty funny tales. However this last semester of Psychology in sports students have been a whole new level of dumb. He showed them how to use APA, then he did it for them for the different chapters of the book, all they had to do was literally copy and paste the reference he made for the chapter they used. Dummy proof you would think right?
One student copied the wrong chapters
One student copied all of the references.
One student made changes to the references!!!
That one I saw big red question marks beside and he noted 'I did it for you? why would you change it to be wrong???'
As a student in a class, this girl, who somehow managed to be tertiary, would ask an average of 20 questions per 40 minutes session. Since we knew the statistics final would be a project, my friend and I recorded the number of questions she asked compared to the rest of the class. It came out that on average she asked at least 3x as many questions as the class on average.
The girl was supremely stupid, and didn’t understand why the probability of rolling a 6 on a die was 1/6.
I didn't have any particularly dumb student (also not a Professor, but a graduate teaching assistant), but I did mark one essay that began so eloquently with
"Do we born with intelligent?"
edit: As an addendum, because I still find this story hilarious, the second sentence was "How our cognitive is developed?".
One of my fellow PhD student marked an essay once which came in at 2 pages (it was a 6 page limit), and half of the essay, so one page, discussed Mowgli from the Disney animated version of the Jungle Book (the topic was Developmental Psychology).
I heard this story from my professor dad: once, during the week of a final paper, he found an office voicemail from a student claiming it was midnight and he has to drive two hours to a major city in the because his friend needed emergency appendectomy surgery. The student forgot that, in those days, voice mails spoke the recording time, which was 7:30 AM.
Not a professor but we once jokingly asked my classmate when the third world war happened, she told us she didn't knew the exact date.
Took my Intro English requirement as the online class, part of which included a discussion forum. Each student was required to write a post giving their response/understanding of the topic at hand (eg. the Blind Men and the Elephant) three times over the semester. When you went to the site, the most recent entry was highlighted, so imagine my surprise to see my words highlighted for a post I'd put in weeks before - with someone else's name and an added sentence at the end. I checked into it, and for each assignment she'd gone onto the forum and straight up copied another student's answer, added a sentence somewhere, and submitted it as her own.
I reported her to the professor and girl had the nerve to email me (as one of the students she'd plagiarized, she didn't know I'd turned her in) to ask for help defended her because it was *completely* an accident that she'd submitted these answers, she was "just reading other students posts when it happened", and she really needed this credit. Told her if there was such a thing as accidental copy-paste-post, it wouldn't have been edited (3 times), and if it was so accidental that she'd never noticed, then why didn't she ever post her actual assignment answers? Never heard back.
I taught calculus in college. There's always several students who are terrible/lazy at the subject, but this term there was one who was really energetic about appearing to put in the effort, in multiple different ways but I'll focus on one.
I told the class I'd give them extra credit for doing any of the "advanced" problems at the end of the chapters. This guy turns in elegant, concise, handwritten solutions for all of them. That'd be hard even for me. He even knew how to do epsilon-delta proofs! That's not something I taught.
One of the problems involved a variable D and an epsilon-delta argument. His proof contained the phrase "Let ε > D", which is utter nonsense not only in context but in terms of an epsilon-delta proof in general. It's supposed to be "Let ε > 0", without exception. He was copying from an instructor's solution manual without knowing the meaning of the symbols.
I suppose this isn't dumb so much as shameless.
I'm a film student and we were asked to make up our own ten rules to follow when making a film, much like the Dogma 95 Manifesto, an specifically had us refer to us as a Manifesto. This one student submitted the Communist Manifesto instead.
According to my lecturer, that student didn't do very well and is now a forklift operator.
... that The Hobbit was plagiarism of The Lord of the Rings...
The student that decided to plagiarize his entire 5 page paper. First, the whole class had been working on this paper for the entire semester (the only paper due), we had library days on how cite things and find the information you needed, and they were going to be turning it in through an online paper checker that would give them feedback on plagiarism. They could revise and resubmit the paper as many times as they wanted and this dipshit turned it in with every single thing but his name highlighted in neon colors. He then had the balls to say he didn't do anything wrong and trashed my desk because he failed.
Not my story, but in a test where you could bring solved questions with you, a student brought a question identical to the one the test paper has, instead of just copying the answer and getting an A, he glued the solution which he brought with him with a glue stick, all he had to do is not being lazy.
I had a student when I was a TA who took the first quiz in my class, but I realized he wasn’t on my roster. I told him this, but he insisted he was in my section. Soon, he stopped coming to section altogether, but did insist on handing his exams and papers back to me in lecture. I eventually discovered he was supposed to be in my colleague’s class, but never attended that either. After the final exam (which he handed in to me!), he admitted to me that he had just realized he was in the other class, and had been confused because his roommate was in my class, but “I guess it doesn’t really matter since I didn’t really show up anyway!”
This was more of a slip-up than this person actually being dumb, but I was in an Ancient Greece history class and the professor was showing us images of pottery in which most of the humans depicted were black (I assume it had to do with the clay they used or something).
My classmate raised his hand and asked, "Are the people on the pottery black because of the clay? Or were all Greeks African-American?"
In Math class I said there was 36 letters to the alphabet without really thinking. My teacher didn’t seem mad, just disappointed.
Not a professor but I am in graduate school. We are in a hybrid program which means we do part online and we go to class five Saturdays a semester. One guy came to the first class then never came back until the last class. We were having a final that day, which he didn’t know because our midterm was take home. He slept thru the final. Even snored a few times and almost fell out of his chair. I don’t know why he even stayed.
I'm not a professor but I was a TA for a first year Computer Science class. When I was grading some assignments, I saw that the student submitted the file with only the name changed and didn't bother to look over the assignment at all. The assignment was the same as the previous years, but the test variables were changed to different values and this student didn't even bother to do that and just assumed the assignment was the exact same.
I had a student who wrote an evaluation of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being." All the way through--five pages--she referred to it as "The Unbearable Lighthouse of Being."
The one who would regularly hand in essays which were obviously copy pasted.
They didn't bother to change the font or colour of paragraphs that were lifted from other websites.
They never argued or shared their opinion but would ask vague questions such as, "but what is the United States?" at the end of a lecture or tutorial that was about a legal decision.
Finally a good one to speak to. There was this girl on the basketball team in college...just to set the stage.
The assignment was for creative writing 101 basically. Bring in an apple, write about it, place apple on the table with everyone elses apples, swap papers, find the apple that goes with the vivid discription on the paper.
Dumb b*tch brought in a pear from the tree near the mailroom. Tried hard to convince me it was a crab apple and that they werent edible. IIRC, she even used pear shaped to discribe it. Her writing level was literally 2nd grade at most.
Wasnt even ripe.
Not a professor, but a student. First day of classes for college in my Human Development class. So, as usual, the teacher used the first day to go over the syllabus. He had it projected onto the screen and gave us all a copy of it to follow along (which is more than what professors usually did). Anyways. he was going over it in quite of bit of detail to make sure we all understood what was expected of this class. Every person in that classroom understood what he was saying and how the syllabus worked... except for this one lady. She was middle aged, maybe a little older and, for whatever reason, she had a question about everything about the syllabus, asking a question after every point the teacher made. She would even ask a question after the teacher just went over what she was asking. He would comply to answer her questions, but even he was getting annoyed or would say that if she had a question to ask at the end of class. Everyone in the classroom was so annoyed by her that one of the students spoke up and said that she was wasting everyone else's time in class for asking questions that the professor literally had answered before she asked or its in the syllabus and she needs to read it before asking. The lady looked so surprised and offended and then looked at the teacher, as if expecting him to say something. He just shrugged and said "He's right" and went back to the syllabus. She shut up after that and we never saw her after that first day. Now, I don't like to make assumptions that people are dumb cause they just might be confused about something or have something going on. At the same time though, how stupid can you be to just keep asking questions that are clearly being explained to you, and then get offended when someone calls you out on it?
When I was seventeen, we had a whole year of lectures about politics. What's socialism, communism, liberalism, that kind of stuff. In the final lecture before the exam, the teacher asked if we had any more questions and he wished us the best of luck. On that moment, a true gem in my class (and also seventeen...) asked; "Mister, what does democraaaty mean"? (she even pronounced the word badly) I was stunned. All of her family members are doctors. Thank god the girl was pretty at least.
(Not a teacher, but 1 of my friends) On a geography test with one of those blinded maps: Test: 'What is the capitol of Australia?' Him: 'Paris'
He got a 0, even though the minimum was a 1.
I was giving a final and I noticed a student hiding paper under his exam. (I could see the corners sticking out from where his exam was folded from the staple). I asked him what it was just to make sure it wasn't a cheat sheet. He said it was scratch paper and I said "ok make sure it gets turned in with your exam". And he looked a little deflated. So when he turned in the exam I noticed his scratch paper had only the problems (including problem numbers and instructions) written down. He was going to transcribe the test, take it to the bathroom for his girl friend to take, and then copy it back to the exam.
*I'm not a professor* During a biology unit, this girl in my science class asked me WHETHER WATER WAS A LIVING THING OR NOT. Her expression was completely genuine, and she really didn't know whether water was alive (we were 12 years old at the time- man, the good old days-, perfectly capable of knowing these things). She had no mental disorders of any kind.
When I was a TA for an intro to logic course, one of my students could not grasp simple inferences like modus ponens or modus tollens in propositional logic.
If it's raining, then the ground is wet. It's raining. Therefore, the ground is wet.
If it's raining, then the ground is wet. The ground is not wet. Therefore, it is not raining.
Simple, basic inferences. Yet, after 3 hours of working on it with them one on one, would still tell me it's valid to conclude that since the ground is wet, it must be raining, or since it's not raining, the ground can't be wet.
This was just before the final exam which was over predicate logic which entailed proofs involving relations and identity.
To correlate to ordinary math: they were struggling with basic addition and subtraction when the exam was over algebra and trig.
Allow me to share something with the entire class. Last night as I was grading papers, I came across two gems both entitled "Cells are Bad" and both with just one paragraph which I unfortunately committed to memory: "Cells are bad. My uncle lives in a cell. It's ten foot by twelve and he has to read the same boring, old magazine everyday. The end." Although my standards are nowhere near where they used to be I could not bring myself to put As atop those beauties.
I'm a TA for Intro to Psychology- I teach my own section(s) each semester. The class has 5 mandatory tests and an optional final that can replace the lowest test grade for the semester. However, students only could take the final if they had 2 or less absences throughout the semester. I had a student who forgot to take the last test (they have to take the test at our computer lab outside of class time). Week 15 of the semester, with 4 tests already under her belt. Just forgot. Didn't even try to give me an excuse. She had too many absences to take the final so she just had a big old 0 for one of her tests. Somehow managed to scrape by with a D, though.