I am a 5th year grad student. This is the first time I am allowed to teach a higher level major course on my own. We just had our midterm today and I am confused as to how to proceed.
On the midterm that I created, the instructions were to "attempt only 5 problems" out of a total of 8. But I didn't specify on the exam what would happen if the students were to attempt more than 5 problems.
I noticed half of the class (11 of 20) did follow the instructions and only handed in 5 problems or clearly marked which one are to be graded. But there are those who did more than 5 and did not specify which ones I should grade, perhaps hoping that I would pick their highest 5 problems or they simplify forgot.
What should I do in a situation like this? I know it is "standard practice" to simply grade the first 5 problems in numerical order that they have attempted. Unfortunately it seems most if not all students have no clue how to do problem #2 and #3 (these were fair questions, but required students to be clever), therefore if I were to follow this standard procedure, the students who attempted more than 5 (which basically means they attempted all) will almost certainly get a failing grade, which seems a little cruel.
(I listed on the syllabus "rough" grade cutoffs, i.e. A = 90+, B = 80+, C = 70+, etc. with pluses and minuses. The grades of students in the class are basically clustered at the moment, with a bunch of students around 90-95%, then a couple around 70-80% and then some around 30-50%, with not many outliers.)
Any advice would be appreciated!
EDIT: I asked two faculty members they both told me to simply grade the first 5 attempted questions in numerical order, and the difficulty of each question shouldn't matter. They said the same policy is used on qualifying exams. Sorry that I was just overthinking. That's what I'm going to do.