My prof for my first year anthropology class is new, and I'm having trouble understanding her marking scheme.

Here is the distribution of our class grades:

  • Exam 1: Median 62%, Top 75% got above 47%, while 25% got above 69%

  • Exam 2: Median 58%, Top 75% got above 44%, while 25% got above 70%.

We haven't gotten our final exam marks back yet, but I was wondering if this is normal for a first year anthropology course?

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    I've edited your question for clarity and to remove irrelevant detail about your professor's perceived competence. I'm still not sure whether you are asking if these average grades are lower than in the average anthropology class, or whether you want to know if grading scales are usually adjusted downwards when an exam turns out below-average. – henning -- reinstate Monica Apr 24 '18 at 14:50
  • Have you searched for any questions about grading scales on here? – Solar Mike Apr 24 '18 at 15:42
  • Such as : academia.stackexchange.com/q/66076/72855 – Solar Mike Apr 24 '18 at 15:42
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    Rants, esp about undergraduate studies, are off topic for this site. I would suggest if you have valid concerns about your professor that you document your concerns and bring your issues up with either the department head or your university's Ombudsman (if they have such an office). – scrappedcola Apr 24 '18 at 18:07
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    @scrappedcola This is not a question about undergraduate studies. This is a question about teaching practice, and therefore firmly on-topic. – JeffE Apr 24 '18 at 20:16

When it comes to grading, there really is nothing that can be considered "normal." As for adjusting grades, the answer is a definite maybe. It really depends on the instructor. I do, but many of my colleagues don't, but then they give tests with much higher averages than I do.

Exam grades and difficulties can vary from course to course and from year to year within a course, let alone between departments and institutions. There will generally be an attempt to bring grades in line with "expectations" and requirements of the school. But what those expectations are can vary widely. For instance, at one university I worked for, there was nothing wrong if a third of the students or more failed; at my current institution, it would create major headaches if so many students failed.

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  • In one of my physics classes as an undergraduate I ended the year with a grade of ~30% overall. That was an 'A'. The professors philosophy was that he wanted to see how you approached the problems, and could really only judge how well you were doing by how far you got before you ran into difficulties. A very frustrating (at the time), yet highly rewarding experience (because it really taught people to look at a problem from multiple directions). – Jon Custer Apr 25 '18 at 13:28

I fail to see why it is not normal.

Grading heavily depends on many different factors. If you feel you have been graded unfairly, try to talk with people who are responsible for study program, student union (if you have it) or some department workers who are resposible for that.

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