Tuesday, May 5, 2009

policy

I have extremely high expectations. For most everything, but today I want to talk about my students, well ONE student. I grade everything with a magnifying glass, and you don't get nothing for free (except maybe a grammar lesson on the inappropriate use of a double negative).

In the past, my level of rigor has left my students annoyed, at best. "But I worked so hard." "I spent 34,890 hours studying." blah blah. This annoyance translated into crappy evals and even being called a fat ***** on ratemyprofesssors.com. SO, I instituted some bonus. However, as a caveat to said bonus I tell students I do NOT go by %. If you need 515 points to earn an A, it is going to take 515 POINTS. I don't care that 514 equates to an 89.8%, you would have only had 496 without the bonus. I made it CLEAR. Told them to study to make sure they weren't in that position because I wasn't going to budge.

Final grades were posted last night. I have a student with x points. x +2 points would be a C. This student never earned higher than a D on an exam. Actually scored a D on a project that the average was a B+. The student admits to not owning the book so he/she couldn't earn any bonus. (When we are on computer chapters, I make them do a lesson and turn it in so I know they have at least minimal experience on the tool).

Here is the thing...I FEEL GUILTY. But I rationalize to myself....why should I give the two points when he/she didn't have the wherewithall to get the fucking book and earn the two points? Why do students do this? Why not just do the work up front instead of using all of this energy begging for a grade. I really think the student thinks I am doing this to be a bitch...but I had 60 other students who followed the policy. Giving in to this student feels unfair to me. Level playing field and all.

What do you think?

OH, and right when I thought I was going to have some leisure time, I got FOUR papers from FOUR different journals to review yesterday. In ONE day. Star Wars day be fucked, May the Fourth be with you. Damn it.

ETA: I changed the numbers in the post because I am all paranoid like that.

14 comments:

Not Your Aunt Bea said...

Don't give in. If that is your policy, that is your policy. Once you've changed it, you will have to bend for everyone. If it were ever to come up (legally or in some type of review) you could stick to your guns because you have never changed your policy.

For the student, that is life. The rules were clear. You earned a D. Next time have some more initiative and foresight to plan for the grade you want. Better to learn this lesson now than in the real world (and the real world often bends the rules, but it often doesn't).

creative kerfuffle said...

i'm w/ bea, stick to you guns. bend once and you'll be an acrobat before you know it.
and is there really something called star wars day and did i miss it? holy hell.

Alice said...

at first i was like "ooh, this is a tough one!" ...but then i realize that i only think that because the margin is so small - 2 pts out of 385. that shouldn't be the determining factor, how CLOSE they were to getting the next grade, right? in school, i would sometimes be like "aw man, if i'd gotten ONE MORE PROBLEM right on this test i would have had an A- instead of a B+" ... but it never occured to me to ask my teacher to fudge it up to an A- for me. when you're given the parameters up front, it's your responsibility to fall within them where you want to be; not the professor's responsibility to make you feel better about not trying. i say stick to your guns!

DAVs said...

Stick with it. Policy is policy. And what's this about not even buying the book? WTF?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I would stick to your plan because two points is close, but so is 3 and so is five and really 10 points could be close too...it is a slippery slope and you were clear about the rules...

tracy

wafelenbak said...

When I was a grad student, I got so fed up with my students not doing the reading that I instituted pop quizzes. Easy questions, but quickly separated those who did and did not do the reading. Man, that pissed them off! One student even called me an anti-Semite in her eval. (I guess making a Jew do her homework is somehow anti-Semitic?) You did the right thing--no guilt.

Jen L. said...

I am SO glad you posted this. I had one student, who should have made a stellar grade in one of my classes, fail to show up on time 16 times throughout the semester. The same student also missed a test. Sorry, honey, if you can't follow the rules (which clearly state that you get a zero if you don't show a dr.'s note for an absence and that if you come in more than 10 minutes late, you get a zero for participation that day), nothing I can do for ya. I feel guilty, too, but DUDE. Take some freakin' initiative! You're paying to be here!

chezjulie said...

I read faculty blogs sometimes, and they ALL have stories like this. The grading rubric was clear, the student didn't earn the grade, and now they're throwing a big hissy fit. And the faculty member feels bad, but they don't feel like they can give this illiterate/comatose/whatever student a passing grade.

I think I would tell the student, "It just breaks my heart that you didn't avail yourself of the opportunity to do the bonus work, because I really wanted you to earn a better grade in my class. But you didn't."

grace said...

My high school teachers spent 4 years telling me "You do not get second chances in college. Do the work!" I think I'd actually be kind of pissed if I found out that my high school teachers were harder on me than my college professors.

Also, one of my favorite high school moments was listening to another student whine to a teacher about how hard she worked, and how much time she put into a paper, and after listening to it for almost 10 minutes the teacher finally put her foot down and said "JENNY! It was B work!" End of conversation.

Stick to yer guns!

Bulge to Bump said...

This might sound bad, especially because I work in a Higher ed field that deals with student retention....not all students have the detremination, character or ability to make it through college. I suspend numerous students each year because of their behavior. I often feel bad about that and beat myself up. In the end I do not get them in trouble with the college, they get themselves in trouble with their behavior.

You are not flunking them out of the class...they are flunking with their poor performance.

Don't feel bad, think of all the students who are excelling in the class. I'm guessing that the students who don't succeed are the minority.

--V said...

Problem is, at least where I work, tuition is so high that the students (and their parents) think they've what paid for is a _grade_ not a _class_, and they figure that it works here they way it works anywhere else they're a consumer: the customer is always right. And the louder a customer gets, the more right he is.

Some of them never do figure out that school doesn't work that way.

chezjulie said...

I think I can assuage your guilt a little. I was walking across campus to get a Diet Coke, and I just heard a student say the following into her cell phone:

Just go talk to him and tell him you need a C! Or a C minus. Make some shit up. You already told him something made up? Well, you should have talked to him in person because something something...

Ah, the kids are alright...

kilax said...

I would feel guilty too, but you are already being very accommodating my giving them the chance for a bonus! It makes me CRAZY that students expect to get something for nothing. They want everything to be easy. It makes me SICK. I was in a training all week, and the ADULTS still act this way. WTF?

Astarte said...

No, WAY. I was always one of those people who read almost all the material (hey, we're all human), did all the work, and kicked my own ass on projects, and it totally pissed me off when other people could beg their way up to anywhere near a grade that I had worked so hard to EARN. If you don't have a book, haven't done the work, and are spoiled enough to think that you're going to beg your way through life, it's time to wake up.

 
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