I teach a beginners class using Excel.
During an examination, some of my students misread the instructions (provided by the department, not by me). These are the kinds of errors only a novice could make. This caused the following two errors to occur.
- Instead of just putting data into a group of cells named the "constants table", some of them used the Data / Table function to create this table. We don't even teach about Data / Table, but they had just had tables in Word a few weeks earlier, and did what you do in word.
- The instructions used BASIC-style programming assignment statements to tell the students what kinds of formulas to put in the cells. The novices put in the entire assignment statement, instead of just the right side. This caused a circular reference, since the left side referred to the cell it was in.
- If these students made other errors, I don't know what they were. I can't replicate this trouble by trying to do it on purpose.
The infinite-loop problem happened when the student made BOTH of the first errors, plus some other error I can't think of. When they made one of the circular errors that also had a reference to the constants table, the following error messages occurred in sequence:
1. The circular error dialog box opened, put the cursor on the error cell, and opened it for editing. The colored indicators appeared, with one in the constants table.
2. The error dialog box closed, and a new error dialog box opened saying "Can't edit a table."
Any attempt to do anything anywhere on the worksheet after that caused the "Can't edit a table" error to pop up again. I couldn't find a way to get out of the loop, other than by using the Task Manager to close Excel. This destroyed all of the work the student did so far.
This happened to several different students.
1. Has anyone else made Excel lock up like this?
2. Why does it get locked up?
3. Is there any way to get out of the loop without closing Excel?