Our biology professor asked us to write a report. We had one week to hand it in. Groups were formed. Being in a class with an odd number of students, I was the only one left, and so wrote the report alone. I was however graded identically to those who wrote it in groups of two.

When the professor gave me back my report, he simply said that (this report) "does not fulfil the criteria. One cannot grasp the meaning of what you wrote".

I have two questions:

  • Is that fair?
  • What should I do?
  • 4
    It's often more work to work in a team than alone, anyways. There are benefits of course, too, but if one cannot even grasp the meaning of what you wrote it does not sound like you can attribute this simply to working alone. Maybe you'd have a better case if it was described as too shallow/not enough in depth.
    – Bryan Krause
    Feb 6, 2020 at 15:24
  • 2
    Some professors will allow a group of three in that situation, rather than having a group of one. Did you ask for that option at the time groups were being formed? Feb 6, 2020 at 17:17
  • 2
    If you were uncomfortable with working alone from the start, you should have inquired with the professor at the start. If you were fine with working alone at first, and only became uncomfortable with it once you saw your grade, then you have no ground to complain. Either way, there's not a whole lot you can do. Obviously you can ask the professor to re-do it or request an extra-credit assignment, but that will be up to their discretion and whatever they say is what goes. Feb 6, 2020 at 21:07

1 Answer 1


Sorry, but yes, it is fair. It is the work that is graded, not the person. The comments are devastating, actually. I doubt that there is much you can do now, other than assure you don't get into the same situation in the future.

You can, of course, ask the professor for a second chance. I can't guess what the response will be, but I think you have the right to ask. Under the circumstances, it might be granted. It would mean more work for you, of course, but that might also aid in your overall learning.

If you didn't understand the assignment and needed help then you should have been seeking it along the way. Prior to turning it in, you had some leverage in getting help from the prof since you were working alone.

I don't know why the prof set it up this way. A single group of three might have been a better solution. Asking for a volunteer to work alone might have been a better solution.

But, for your own educational purposes, try to understand where and why you didn't meet the standard.

  • I had the same amount of time to do the work of what others did in groups of two in the same time. Why could I not ask the professor about one additional week to complete the report ?
    – user103892
    Feb 6, 2020 at 13:29
  • 6
    Had you done that at the start you'd have had some leverage, but a report by two people isn't the sum of the individual work. The problem is that you didn't see a way to bounce ideas off of another person and reject the bad ideas, not the length of time. You can ask, of course, but at this point, I'd guess you won't be successful. If you think something is unfair, complain at the start, not the end. some people actually want to work alone and complain if they are partnered. Sorry to be a bit hard on you.
    – Buffy
    Feb 6, 2020 at 13:33

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