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My experience: I read 'Academia varies more than you think it does', but in school or university I've been to or heard of, students can always see how they were graded for any paper/exam/ test/homework they were assigned.

  • In some cases, the school won't let them keep it, but they will at least let the students view it.

  • I believe it's every student's right to know how they were graded on, well, a graded requirement. (see Dan Fox and David Hill) The only exception I can think of is Educational Testing Service, but it's not really a school or anything.

My sibling's experience: My sibling is second year undergraduate. Recently, my sibling was a little surprised with a grade on a paper/an exam and wants to know about how their particular paper/exam was graded. But when my sibling tried to ask to view the marking/grading of the exam/paper, this was the reply of the professor (paraphrased or redacted to help with privacy)

  • Dear [insert name of sibling],

  • Are you an exchange student? [insert university] does not provide marks to students after the examination. The only thing that can be released is the Grade or Pass/Fail. Giving you the marks would be a violation of the regulations. In fact, all such information will be destroyed after a period of time. You can try asking other teachers about marks, they will also tell you the same.

  • The [insert fee required to appeal for a change of grade, which is the equivalent of about $32.10 US] is for the examiner to check and confirm your grade. You will then have a letter from the Faculty confirming the grade or otherwise.

    • Note: My sibling is NOT an exchange student.

Main question: Do/Should students have the right to see their how exams were grade?

Guide questions to support the main question:

  1. Is this policy unconventional or unethical or unfair?

  2. How will any student get feedback on their communication or their mistakes if they do not see any of the gradings/markings of their work?

    • Putting aside the seeming ex parte grading (Not sure about the use of this legal term, but...), I think this is a missed learning opportunity.

      • Students would've been able to know how to better communicate or organise their ideas for future exams/papers.

      • And of course, besides of all the soft skills stuff, how do students learn from their actual mistakes if they don't know what they are?


Some notes:

  1. My sibling and their classmates were allowed to keep the exam/paper questionnaire, and they have a copy of their exam/paper answers since the exam/paper was online.

  2. This particular course/subject has only two requirements - 20% for a single homework and 80% for a single exam. There is no midterm only finals. (This sentence is partly related to Buffy's answer.)

  3. The grades were released very late, about 4-5 weeks after classes for the semester began.

  4. There are some procedures to appeal for a change of grade, but there's a fee for this (about $32.10 US). The original forwarded message (again paraphrased or redacted) to all students of my sibling's course/program/programme/major is as follows. I'm stating this to give context for the $32.10 US fee stated above.

    In accordance with [insert some code number of a policy here], there shall not be any appeal against the examination results and all other forms of assessment. However, if a student has sufficient reasons to say that there is some irregularity in procedure or technical error in how his/her assessment results are determined, then he/she can apply [details, details].

    Please note that a fee of [$32.10 US] for each assessment will be charged. The student should pay [details, details]. However, if the Department's investigation into an application of a student concludes with that there was an irregularity in procedure or a technical error and the assessment result is revised, then the fee is to be refunded.

  5. The professor says 'You can try asking other teachers about marks, they will also tell you the same' instead of referring to the student handbook.

  6. They do not have a student handbook.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Massimo Ortolano Feb 24 at 21:32
  • @DavidHill I didn't state it for privacy. Thanks. I suppose a B is a good enough. – BCLC Feb 28 at 2:30
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    @BCLC I know you've been cutting, but I think you're likely to get better responses (and votes to reopen) if you cut all the extraneous detail and get to the point immediately. Think maybe 1/3 the current length. For example, the whole part about your experience, which is not the experience you are asking about, is unnecessary. Most of the block quotes are as well. – Jeff Feb 28 at 2:58
  • Is the university or program accredited by the organization that accredits universities for your region, or programs in this field? Is this a not-for-profit university, or a for-profit university? Is the entire program online, or just this exam, or just this course? – shoover Feb 28 at 21:19
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I doubt that this is a case of a student "offending" an individual professor and more one of rules in place that may not make sense and that you may not approve of, but still, rules.

I don't like, personally, such rules. I think they are wrong, but an individual professor has little actual control over rule making. They may not be willing to break the rules, especially if they are a junior faculty member.

Personally, I probably wouldn't give back final exams, though I did give back all others. But I would certainly let a student look over the grading. But I was bound by no such rules.

And, note that, depending on the scale of the institution, it might be very difficult to permit students access to final exams. When I was a TA, we graded Calculus finals as a group, with each TA grading only one problem. So, a student's grade was an amalgam of judgements. We were guided by a rubric, of course. But the professor didn't grade the finals and so might find it difficult to respond to exactly why a point (or ten) was lost. Smaller institutions can "afford" a more personal touch and usually strive to do so. It should be (perfect world) possible for larger ones to do so also, but often don't. And if there were a few hundred students, it is difficult to respond to individuals, just for the time it takes. Ideal. No.

Intermediate exams are a different matter, in my view, since they can and should be used to guide the student's learning. But, Rules.

And usually, by enrolling in a university, the student makes an implicit (at least) agreement to abide by the rules in place.

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks Buffy. About the first paragraph, of course you are right. The offense part is only part of the guide. About 'Intermediate exams are a different matter', do you mean as follows? For an intermediate exam, this would guide students' learning and so may be worthwhile to invest into this. However, for a final exam, a student would not necessarily learn from mistakes as much as an intermediate exam and so is not necessarily worthwhile to invest into? – BCLC Feb 23 at 17:14
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    Not an absolute about mid-term grades v. finals. But seeing what you did incorrectly on a mid-term, assuming there is actual feedback, can help you improve in that course. Finals have a lesser effect. – Buffy Feb 23 at 17:32
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    Indeed, there are many strange rules and regulations around. However one can always (try to) request the exact reference to the rule that is being applied. I found it amazing to see how many "rules" were plainly misinterpreted or just conjured out of thin air :-) – fedja Feb 23 at 21:01
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    @fedja: For most profs, I would unfortunately not recommend to annoy them with those questions, especially if they will grade you later unanomysiosly. – user111388 Feb 23 at 21:24
  • @fedja Good point. I'll check my sibling's handbook. Thanks. Why do you comment in Buffy's answer instead of in the original post? – BCLC Feb 24 at 4:14

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