When would someone marking papers (lecturer, etc.) bump a student from just below pass up to the pass line? Do teachers consider things like attendance?

Regardless of the consideration (attendance, participation, etc.) for giving a student a better grade than they deserve, what is the justification?

  • I usually set my lines for passing after I see the final exams.
    – Kimball
    Jan 16 '17 at 16:01

There are a myriad of reasons why a student could have barely passing grades and good attendance. Not everyone is able to grasp the concepts as quickly and as well as others. They may have a learning difficulty, or they are taking on something to extend their knowledge and skills.

An example, my short term memory is no good under pressure, such as in an exam - I barely passed, and had conceded passes twice - does that make me less deserving? I'll let the fact that I am now just finishing my PhD in the same topic area answer that question.

Good attendance is an indicator, albeit, not conclusive of effort, but more conclusive if they had not attended at all.


One of the things I like about teaching is that while we draw fine lines at numbers such as 65.0 and 89.5, teachers also get the final word on putting grades into the system, and the ability to look at a student's performance holistically to include non-tangible paper marks such as attendance (in class and office hours), intrinsic motivation, and future goals justifies "bumping" grades for particular students.

I don't do it often, but if a student is on the line and showed me high motivation but didn't quite get to the higher grade, I will consider bumping up the grade (but I won't do it because of grade-grubbing). Sometimes, it comes down to when I'm entering the final grade into the system, and I think, "You know, that 89.3% for Alice really should be an A-." I don't lose sleep over it, and it really is relatively rare.

  • 1
    This is exactly how I handle the issue.
    – earthling
    Aug 22 '13 at 12:55

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