I agree with allo.
Some further thoughts:
It's frustrating when you haven't even gotten the chance to make your points, and a good university should develop protocols and procedures to make sure this is possible. This isn't always done, and depending on where you live and what expectations/rules apply, it might be risky to mount an objection. The fact that mounting an objection is likely to be a risky act is fundamentally not okay, however I'm not all-powerful and neither are you, and I recommend being strategic here. As buffy said, the recommendation letter is a lot more valuable than the grade. For the same reason that risking 10 thousand dollars for a chance at obtaining 1 thousand dollars is a bad idea unless the chance of losing the 10 thousand is very low, I do not think you should mount an objection.
And, please, if you're ever in a situation where you can influence the direction that university policies take, please please please influence them in the direction they need to go. Students shouldn't be punished just for making an appeal to fairness and offering some arguments in favor of their work, or for rebutting a weak rebuttal to their arguments. Nothing about this is okay.
For myself, I'm currently doing my 3rd university degree, and I've been teaching and grading for 10 years, I'm keenly aware of the deficiencies of the current system. More specifically, I live in Australia, and here universities make it their goal to make making the process of disputing a grade as hard as humanly possible.
I've seen so many examples of this. Here's one example:
A friend wanted his grades on a math assignment increased. His arguments were as follows:
- The questions were vague and the lecturer's expectations were vague, and yet the lecturer did not respond to emails or requests for clarification, of which my friend sent many.
- Some of the "errors" he had been penalized for were actually errors on the lecturer's part.
- The lecturer did not give reasons for any of the grades, and there were no published marking criteria for the assignment, which was contrary to university policy.
Dot points (1) and (2) above constitute a good argument for increasing the grades, or at the very least a remark. Dot point (3) constitutes a good reason to refuse a remark until proper grading criteria have been published.
So, what happened? He met with 3 professors - the lecturer and 2 others - to discuss the issue. They essentially conceded all of his points, yet offered no grade increase, only the chance for a remark. They did not offer to publish objective grading criteria, despite that university policy required it. He explained that without such criteria, he would not accept the offer for a remark, and would only ask for a grade increase. After another meeting, they decided to decline his request for grade increase, despite a variety concessions to the effect that the lecturer had made numerous mathematical errors in his marking.
So my friend took it higher. His arguments were very strong - I would know, I helped him write the appeal. He ended up making his arguments in front of a board of university staff. A lawyer that was provided by the university union sat next to him, partly to keep notes on his behalf. At the end of the meeting, the lawyer told him that he had destroyed the opposing arguments. A few weeks later, he received their final decision. His grade would not be adjusted. Literally hundreds of scarce hours were wasted on this appeal "that could not possibly fail", at a time when the burden of difficult Master's level subjects meant that every hour wasted was a serious cost. And yet at the end of it, my friend had nothing to show for it, other than a bruised ego.
This kind of thing, I'm under the impression that it happens a lot. For myself, I never took things quite so far, and yet I too have had similar experiences. I will give the most recent:
To object to an exam grade at my current institution, you have to do a lot:
- You have to work out how to go through the process. It turns out that "applying for feedback" is how you do it objection. But nobody tells you this. The phrases "object to a grade" and "dispute a grade" do not appear on the Monash website, nor on the specialized faculty subsites. Mainly what you get is endless talk of "feedback". If you email the relevant customer service team and ask them outright if this is the right way to mount an objection, you receive a cheery non-answer that specifically does not answer your question:
Hi [name omitted]
Thanks for your enquiry.
If you've already completed Stage 2 of the exam viewing process and
have further questions, you can proceed to Stage 3 for further
feedback by completing the online application form, giving reasons to
support your request.
We'll go through all the submitted requests and forward them on to the
respective chief examiners if we determine the reasons are strong
enough for further feedback.
Have a good day!
Once you've worked out that "applying for feedback" is the way you make such claims, you're faced with clicking a checkbox that says that if you miss your exam you viewing session, you will forfeit the right to see your exam script ever again, no matter what. It doesn't matter if your Dad died, your car broke down, or you had a stroke - nope, it's your own fault.
When you get into the exam script viewing room, you have almost nothing to work with. You get to see what answers you submitted. But often are not told what the actual question was, or what you were graded out of. You are NEVER told the reasons for the grade you got. You're not allowed to take the exam script out of the room - all you can do is scrawl your objection on a bit of yellow paper they give you. That's assuming you've worked out at this point that you need to be building a case. If you think this is just the feedback stage, and the mount-an-objection stage will come later, you're in an awful lot of trouble.
In my experience, the extent to which your comments receive fair consideration is based almost entirely on whether the lecturer likes you. If the lecturer likes you, they will consider your points carefully, and your grade will change by 4, e.g. from 91 to 95. If the lecturer does not like you, they will ignore your points, and your grade will change by 0, e.g. from 91 to ... well, 91.
I also think the voting patterns here bolster my point. In the original version of this question, I commented that universities try to make objecting your grades as hard as possible...
... and you're forced to put up with the stubbornness, small-mindedness
and stupidity of human nature, essentially by design. And, though most
professors are far from stupid, they can be every bit as stubborn and
small-minded as anyone.
This is so true! Just look at the voting here. Because my answer offended some people, I ended up at -6, despite that my points were strong. Well, this is exactly what happens at university! If the lecturer likes you, your marks go up. If they don't, your objections are ignored. It's roughly the same pattern that plays out so frequently on this website.
Long story short, universities need to implement controls prevent this kind of thing. In my opinion, the average professor simply cannot be trusted to grade (or vote, for that matter) based on the strength of someone's argument, as opposed to their feelings about the other person's tone or character.
And, with that in mind, I'll leave the Addendum from my original post as some final food-for-thought.
Addendum. I think the voting patterns here bolster my point. For example, note that I fully addressed the points made in Ben I.'s first comment, yet the comment continues to be upvoted and the rebuttals ignored, essentially because I ruffled a few feathers. This is small-mindedness in a nutshell, and really emphasizes the importance of my final point, which I'll repeat again: Students shouldn't be punished just for making an appeal to fairness and offering some arguments in favor of their work, or for rebutting a weak rebuttal to their arguments. Nothing about this is okay.