I am a first year undergraduate student (direct entry engineering) and today something happened that I have dreaded for a long time.

I received an email from my professor saying that he lost all marks from his computer, the midterm exam marks could be recovered but the assignments could not. Normally this would not be an issue, I keep all assignments in a filing cabinet plus I input all grades into a spreadsheet. But in an effort to clean up for an upcoming move, I seem to have misplaced the folder of math assignments I had.

The assignments are worth 5 percent each and I misplaced two of them. This wouldn't be the biggest deal typically as I get fairly high marks, but I had done well on these assignments and my midterm mark wasn't as high as I wanted. With a 0 on both these assignments I would need close to a perfect score on my final to get an A. I would like to keep a 4.0 GPA as I want to get into electrical engineering which is quite competitive.

With all that being said, I have already emailed the professor briefly explaining the situation along with the third assignment I still had. Technically, I don't need to keep assignments and the professor's computer problems are completely out of my control. So if he concludes that I should get a 0 on both assignments, can I appeal? I know my assignment marks so under my university's honesty declaration I must be honest about my grades, so anything I report to the professor must be true.

What should my course of action be in the event of him giving me two 0's on the assignments?

  • Your university doesn’t use a centralised marking repository using a system like Blackboard?
    – nick012000
    Dec 7, 2019 at 22:20
  • @nick012000 I have no idea what interface they use, but all I know is the professor says the file with the marks is gone and we must send scanned assignments into him. Seems like a backup system needs to be created.... Dec 7, 2019 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


What you should do, in the unlikely event he does that is just go see him and work it out. There are easy ways to compensate, but your next step should not be an escalation or claim unfairness. Just go to the office and have a talk.

The easiest way to compensate is just to assume that those grades are about the same as the typical grades you get otherwise in the course and compute averages or totals or whatever on that basis. If that satisfies both of you, then there is no issue.

But if either expects something different, you just need to discuss it. Perhaps he asked a few questions about what you did on the assignment.

Or, in case that you have the recorded grades, but not the assignments, just take the printed spreadsheet to show how you record things. He will accept it or not. And if you remember anything from feedback written on the assignment, say what it was, to refresh his memory.

But if all the grades, not just yours, are lost, then he needs a general solution that isn't punitive.


You shouldn’t be penalised for mistakes the professor makes.

If I was in the professor’s shoes, and the marks were truly irrecoverable, I would either give everyone 5/5 on the assignments, or I would null the assignments’ marks and mark the course out of 90 instead of 100, effectively adjusting the weighting of everything else upward. Which one I would select would depend on the policies of the university.

What I definitely wouldn’t do is penalise the students for my mistake by marking them 0/5. If he does, I would recommend complaining to the university; most universities would have some sort of formal appeals process for situations like this.

  • 3
    This "answer" isn't very helpful to the student. You aren't the prof here, so,, what you would do is irrelevant.
    – Buffy
    Dec 7, 2019 at 22:43

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