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Monday, September 28, 2009

Can't You Bump My Grade Up?

At the end of the semester, I often get a student or two who want to protest their grades. Not too many, because I make a lot of preemptive moves explaining how their grade is determined, and I try to be very explicit in my syllabus. In addition, I teach mostly upper-level courses with almost all finance majors, so most of my student can actually do the simple computation necessary to figure out their grades. Finally, I think they get the sense that trying to work me for a grade simply won't be worth the effort.

Still, it happens - often because "they need to get a "C" to graduate" (or some variation involving a scholarship, Dean's list, or so on).

Rate Your Students
has a pretty good piece on this topic that nails it. You can read the whole thing here, but the money quote comes at the:
Up until now, I was always suckered into actually engaging in the debate. But this fall I'm going to try a new tactic, and anyone out there who wants to is free to adopt it, 'cause I think it's going to work, and save me a lot of frown lines and email editing. Rather than getting into the specifics of their grades, I'll write the following: "It looks like you're asking to be graded under different guidelines from those in the syllabus, which were used to calculate the grades of the other 170 people in your class. Is this correct?"
Priceless. I think I'll use it.

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