I have been working in a group project of six people at university. I think I made an substantial effort, and would consider me among the two best performers in the group (please accept this as a fact for answering the question). I do not bear grudges against my group, I think we worked well together and I liked working with all of them. I just put more effort in the project, and I am proud of my contribution.

Now the grades have been published, and I have been graded worse than two other students, because of things which were not communicated to be part of the grading process: We finished the project mid of July. Recently, there has been a presentation of parts of our results, which required some extra work. I am currently abroad in an internship. The two students did some additional experiments for the presentation. I was not aware of these additional experiments, because there was no communication about that on our mailing list, basically the two students just happened to be around. I communicated my internship early, and this was accepted by the supervisor. I think the additional experiments do not outweigh my previous contributions by far. Also, I would have helped with the experiments from abroad (which would have been easily possible, because it's computer science), if I would have known.

I am unhappy with this distinction, because I think it is not fair and does not represent my performance, which is also admitted by the two students with the better grades. For me, it would have been ok, if we all got the same grade.

However, the grades are already published, and there is no good way of changing the grades now (pushing the entire team to the better grade is not an option because of politics; I do not want the two to get a worse grade; I would feel unhappy with only me being upgraded). I know this and I accept this.

Now, should I tell my supervisor, that I am unhappy with the grading and explain my reasons why, even though I know it will change nothing in the grades? I do not want to make accusations or anything, just express my problems with the grading.

I do not want to burn any bridges, and might want to work with this supervisor again in the future. I would see this as (i) feedback for my supervisor for the grading process (ii) a way for me to finish the project and get over the frustration (again, I do not intend to make accusations, just lay out why I am unhappy).

Should I do this or should I just swallow my pride and deal with it?

  • 1
    Presenting and communicating any work is part of the work. You did not do this part and they did. Hence, the better grade. This "things which were not communicated" excuse is lame. Don't you have email where you are? Should not you communicate with the rest of the group about the presentation? Have you (the whole group) prepared the presentation before leaving? If not, you should have asked to help with the presentation, while you were away. – Alexandros Sep 9 '15 at 13:49
  • 1
    We prepared the presentation as a group over two Skype meetings, starting 10 days before presentation date. That's when I was told that the supervisor wanted some other experiments, which were already finished. I did help with building the structure and slides of the presentation. Furthermore, I already held a presentation with another team member before in the project. The two just presented to "catch up", so that everyone presented at-least once. Again, I did above-group-average performance during the project. – anon Sep 9 '15 at 14:06
  • In the skype meeting they told me, that the supervisor asked them in person for some extra experiments, that are needed. By the time we had the skype call for presentation preparation, these experiments had been done. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect such announcements to be made over the mailing list, especially when 4 out of 6 group members are not in town anymore and the project already ended in mid-july except for this one presentation. – anon Sep 9 '15 at 14:37

Unless this decision is somehow going to jeopardize your whole future and not just this one grade then I would suggest to "swallow your pride." You mentioned that you are interested in working with this supervisor in the future. That would certainly be great networking which could bring you a number of opportunities and I wouldn't say risking all of that is worth contesting this one grade (which you may still not be in the right). Leave your pride at the door and reach for your goals only until sometime truly disrespects you. Otherwise try to focus on the positives.

| improve this answer | |

It is certainly possible for a student to have a talk with the supervisor about dissatisfaction with a grade. In fact, we professors sometimes want to know these things (though I admit that there are nicer conversations to have). To give an example: Some months ago, I received an email from a student who asked politely for an appointment to have some additional feedback about her thesis grade. During our talk, she said that she was okay with her grade, but not with the fact that others got higher grades, although she worked harder.

In fact, she was right in some way. She decided to use an extremely complicated approach, that took a lot of time, which is why she lacked that time for improving other parts of the thesis. Others used a simpler approach and had plenty of time to get everything perfect.

I was happy to explain to her that I shared her discomfort, but that the grading scheme (which she was familiar with) awarded only very few points for the complexity of the method she used. Having such a talk is way better than having rumours circling around that grading at the Department is unfair.

To make a long story short: You can always mail to ask for 'feedback about the work/grade'. But you should indicate whether you actually intent to have the grade changed (which you probably do not want to do, for various reasons) or not. As a professor, these later type is a good feedback opportunity. In fact, after the episode described above, I discussed with colleagues the possibility of changing the grading scheme in the future.

| improve this answer | |