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When I was TAing a course, some students came to meet me to talk about marking issues. Earlier, the instructor had said that if students cannot reach an agreement with TAs they should talk to the instructor. Thus when I saw some students disputing marks, I referred them to the instructor. However, the instructor later sent me an email saying he couldn't decide the marks as the TAs made the marking scheme. In my view, he somehow refused to fulfill his duty and passed the buck to me.

  • Possible duplicate of What to do about "grade grubbers?" – henning -- reinstate Monica Oct 27 '17 at 9:08
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    Rapidturtle, email is good for lots of things. But not for everything. If the communication is not working well via email, then visit the instructor in his or her office hours, or stop by the professor's office and ask if s/he has a minute to talk, or request an appointment by email (e.g. "Can I stop by this afternoon to talk about a grading issue?"). The conversation may last less than five minutes -- that's okay. – aparente001 Nov 29 '17 at 16:22
  • Basically, the TAship is a way to cover the cost of your graduate studies. Be efficient. Avoid major conflicts. You will only be working for a particular professor for 3 1/2 months and then you'll move on to another TA assignment. Just try to work things out the best you can with the professor, knowing that you won't be working for this person long term. – aparente001 Nov 29 '17 at 16:24
  • There is no unanswered question here. This is a rant, not a question. – Anonymous Physicist Nov 29 '17 at 22:52
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Generally, unless the mark is extremely, obviously wrong, the professor should support the decision made by the TA. However, this means that when there is a grading dispute you cannot resolve with the student, you need to refer the student to the professor, but also talk to the professor yourself, explaining your marking scheme and reasoning behind the grade. Then the professor is equipped to explain to the student why they got the mark they deserve. You cannot expect the professor to moderate a dispute unless they actually have the grading scheme and your side of the story.

Also, you shouldn't immediately pass the student on. Let them present their case to you first, and explain to them why you assigned the grade you did. Nine times out of ten, the student is happy with that. You should only refer the one out of ten who refuse to see reason to your professor.

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  • I did meet an aggressive student who disagreed with my decision and refused to talk to the professor. I had no idea what to do then. – Rapidturtle Oct 26 '17 at 1:54
  • @Rapidturtle In that case I suggest just calmly repeating "I have explained my reasoning, and you have not provided any reason for me to change your grade. If you are unhappy, you can go speak to the professor." If the student persists without offering anything new, say "This conversation does not fell productive right now. You're welcome back when you have calmed down, but right now I'd like you to leave my office." – Johanna Oct 26 '17 at 14:46

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