After finishing his final online social psychology paper, Shahin Rafikian, a rising junior at the University of Maryland, noticed the extra credit question.
WHAT KIND OF PROFESSOR DOES THIS pic.twitter.com/ACtQ0FCwRm
— shahanye (@shaunhin) July 1, 2015
Rafikian posted the question to Twitter — where it’s since garnered more than six thousand retweets — with the caption, “WHAT KIND OF PROFESSOR DOES THIS.” It reads:
Here you have the opportunity to earn some extra credit on your final paper grade. Select whether you want 2 points or 6 points added onto your final paper grade. But there’s a small catch: if more than 10% of the class selects 6 points, then no one gets any points. Your responses will be anonymous to the rest of the class, only I will see the responses.
BuzzFeed News reports that said professor is Dylan Selterman, has been giving his classes the same extra credit question since 2008, but only one class of his has ever passed. This year’s students failed.
Selterman explained that students don’t receive the extra credit because of the “tragedy of the commons” and “the prisoner’s dilemma.” Basically, most students are too selfish to consider what their peers are thinking when the prospect of extra credit arises.
“It’s too big a temptation for some students to take the greater points option, and it seems to me like just a piece of human nature,”
“Some students lament the degree of selfishness amongst their peers, while other students (bravely, in my opinion) openly admit to selecting six points,” Selterman said.
“In the past two days, it has turned into a huge philosophical decision-making process among so many people,” Rafikian, who chose the two-point option, told theBaltimore Sun.
Too bad anyway, because no one got the extra credit.
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