2

I recently received back an exam, and noticed after reviewing it a few days later a serious grading discrepancy. I sent my professor an email to confirm that he would be available in his next office hour, but received no reply. I then stopped by his office at the beginning of office hours but found that he was not in his office and remained absent for the entirety of the office hour.

After several days of no reply, I sent another email, which has also received no reply after several more days. I am unsure how to proceed, as the semester is nearly over and grades will be finalized within about a week. I am wondering if I need to escalate this in order to have my score corrected as the error could seriously impact my final grade in the course. Is there someone that I should contact to discuss this? If so, who should I contact? Otherwise, what is the best course of action to take? Thank you for any advice.

  • 2
    I assume the professor is still teaching the class - can you try to speak with him some day before or after class? – Nate Eldredge Dec 11 '19 at 19:46
  • @NateEldredge unfortunately my next meeting with the professor will be for the final exam, but trying to speak with him afterwards might be the best possibility – csch2 Dec 11 '19 at 19:53
  • 1
    Are you sure there isn't something urgent happening in his personal life? Keep in mind that the end of the semester is not always hard deadline in fixing grading discrepancies. – Azor Ahai -- he him Dec 11 '19 at 20:15
  • 2
    Talk to the director of studies or whatever this is called in your place, they can direct you to the people that may be able to help. Note also that well-working departments have mechanisms to fix errors even after deadlines. – Captain Emacs Dec 11 '19 at 22:05
3

You seem to be doing the right thing. I won't claim this is true everywhere, but most Universities have procedures to revise an error in grades including after the course is over, if indeed an error was made. So don't add to your stress by feeling all is lost if you can't sort it out right now; though of course it of course there is additional stress from uncertainty and feeling under the gun.

Based on what you say, it is bad form for your professor to not reply and not show up. What are other vehicles to "get help" in the course prior to the exam? TAs? Review sessions? If there are none and the prof is nonresponsive, that in my mind is actually a bigger issue than a single grade.

Practically, two suggestions:

  1. Have you adequately (but briefly) described what is the issue -- and the urgency -- in your email? An email of "Dear Prof X. Will you be at office hours next ...., I have a question?" may well be ignored as "don't ask silly questions" (and when they unexpectedly can't make that office hour there being no recollection of it to follow up with you). A more effective email would be "Dear Prof X. I came to your office hours on ... but you seems you weren't able to make it. I've discovered a rather serious grading discrepancy that it would be very helpful to sort out before the exam and end of course. When could I come see you?" It's more difficult to ignore -- and also lays a more compelling paper trail if you do need to appeal your grade after the course.

  2. Have you tried other communication channels? Again, the prof should be responsive. But too often we double down on what should work but doesn't. Try phoning and leaving a voicemail. Leave a paper note under their door AND at their department office reception. Talk to the TA, if any.

Finally, as a former lecturer, it's worth noting: it's crazy how many students want last minute help, often are confrontational due to their own stress, and can't formulate a reasonable question without it being clear they were paying no attention during the course until the last minute. I see no reason to assume you're part of this crowd, but think through your communications how to ensure you're not coming across that way. You have an important, concrete issue to discuss. Make sure you communicate that even if your email arrives sandwiched between 3 other student emails saying "can I ask you some questions, not sure what yet, during office hour?", "can you tell us more what's on the final exam", and "can I hand in my assignment 2 months late?". Good luck!

| improve this answer | |
5

If you are feeling desperate, go to the department office and tell them you need to contact the professor over a grading issue that you are afraid will slip through the cracks at end of term. Ask to have them have the professor contact you, leaving contact information. You could even write a note for the office to pass to the professor detailing your concerns. The office is likely to see the professor before you do.

The prof may still not respond, but you have left a marker that establishes your timely concern.

Don't be overly concerned about lack of response at end of term. There may be a lot on the professor's plate also. There are also ways to work things out that don't require immediate action, as long as you leave a trail of effort to contact and resolve the issue.

But don't increase the "noise" going directly to the professor. It probably won't help and might hurt.

| improve this answer | |
  • Your advice is very helpful, thank you. I’ll keep in mind the professor’s own business during exam season. – csch2 Dec 12 '19 at 0:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.