After a completed homework assignment, I was surprised to see that a question that I was certain that I answered correctly was marked as incorrect. When reviewing the question, I explained why my answer should be correct, and the professor hesitantly agreed to give students who answered the same (multiple choice) credit for the problem.

I sent him a reminder email to give credit for the problem, but he emailed be back saying that he only gave 50% credit for that particular answer to that question, and 50% for a similar answer to a separate question that depended on the same logic.

I am of the opinion that my answer deserves full credit. Is it worth bringing up to him again over a small amount of points?

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    Is it worth it? In my opinion, no. Voting to close as opinion based. – astronat Feb 6 '18 at 19:52
  • What depends on those points? It you are on the borderline of pass or fail, you should bring it up, otherwise it's not worth the effort. Gradings are always incorrect and unfair ;-) (even though one usually tries to make them as fair as possible). The most important point is that you know the correct anser or concepts. – OBu Feb 6 '18 at 20:01
  • The reason I am concerned about this is because I had an 89 in a class with this professor last semester, and somewhat similar circumstances could have brought me over the threshold to get an "A". I want to get the grade I deserve and I feel this particular question required me to read his mind to get the answer that he wanted. – C Henry Feb 6 '18 at 21:02

The professor may have sensible reasons for counting the alternate answer as inferior. It could be that on the surface, your answer is strictly correct. But in the context of the class, such an answer might indicate that you hadn't learned what you were supposed to.

I often give exam problems for which more than one technique will yield the correct answer. (This is mathematics.) But part of what I'm testing is whether the student, who should know both or all three techniques, can chose the best technique for this situation. Naturally, I have students arguing this with me regularly. They think that as long as they do a problem the right way, they should get full credit. My response is that I'm trying to measure their learning and mastery of the material, and their poor choice of technique indicates less than ideal mastery.

Oversimplified example: Suppose it's 3rd grade and the question says, "What's 314 times 256?" If a student adds 314 to itself 256 times, that's a correct method, but it tells me that he hasn't learned how to do 3-digit multiplication. He won't get full credit from me.

You might try asking the prof why he thinks your answer is inferior and see what he says.

  • That is part of assessing : level of mastery... – Solar Mike Feb 6 '18 at 20:32
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    What if the 3rd grade student doubles 314 eight times? (I'd be inclined to give full credit or more, for recognizing that 256 is a power of 2 and that it leads to an easy-to-describe method, even though the standard method is a bit more efficient. Wait: If this kid becomes a computer programmer and efficiency depends on binary arithmetic, then ....) – Andreas Blass Feb 7 '18 at 2:48
  • @AndreasBlass (I realize you're mostly being funny.) If I'm teaching the algorithm for multiplying 3-digit numbers and the student doesn't demonstrate that he know it, then he doesn't get credit for knowing it. However, if he does as you say, I'll certainly single him out for advanced work and special treatment. Maybe next time he'll use a Taylor expansion to estimate 100\pi...? – B. Goddard Feb 7 '18 at 11:33
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    @AndreasBlass Also, this would show a flaw in my problem design. I would say "Doh!" to myself, and next time change 256 to 739. – B. Goddard Feb 7 '18 at 11:34

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