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294 votes

Grades are too high for the department - what should I do?

One really wants to say that the vice-chair is an idiot, but I will refrain. The policy is idiotic in any case. I've taught at places in which nearly every student excels on every measure I could ...
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  • 271k
281 votes
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In a yes/no question, a student gives the right answer and an unnecessary but wrong explanation. How to grade?

You asked for a yes/no answer (which, as you've discovered, has its disadvantages) and got one plus some other stuff. You should grade the yes/no answer and ignore the other stuff. If you like, you ...
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  • 52.7k
255 votes

A student forgot to answer an exam question

You should give zero for the answers in question. You are grading what the student handed in, not what s/he potentially could have handed in. The logistics are just as much part of fulfilling an ...
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  • 8,301
235 votes

In a yes/no question, a student gives the right answer and an unnecessary but wrong explanation. How to grade?

I think that if you would allow full marks for just yes/no without an explanation at all, then you should allow it here. Otherwise the question is flawed and can't be properly and fairly graded. But a ...
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  • 271k
229 votes
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I grade exams together with a colleague but disagree with their grading. What should I do?

Have each person grade different questions, not different students. Consistency in grading is important, and it is unfair to the students if their grades depend substantially on the allocation of ...
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  • 46.1k
178 votes

I noticed an error in a graded exam during office hours. Should I give the student the lower grade?

Let the grade stand, but point out your error. The principle I try to follow is that students shouldn't be negatively affected by faculty mistakes (or that such effects should be minimized). I ...
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  • 1,045
177 votes

What to do when majority of the students do not bother to do peer grading assignment?

You seem to have the grading scheme mis-targeted. When you make peer review part of your grading scheme you grade the review not the paper reviewed. Failure to do the review should be reflected in ...
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176 votes
Accepted

How to deal with failing a student?

Wait for two days, and if she doesn't give me an exact delivery date (which she probably won't), just give her a fail grade. Given that you already agreed to this extension, this is the only option ...
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165 votes
Accepted

A student in my course does well on exams, but doesn't do the homework: Go easy on them, or make them "pay the price?"

As an instructor, when I find myself in this situation, I invite the student to make an appointment to speak with me privately in my office. During that private meeting, I will discuss his/her ...
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  • 107k
162 votes

As an evaluator in mathematics, how should I grade responses that answer the question asked, but in less detail than desired?

I don't think this is an issue with "literalism", in the sense of students taking some farcical literal interpretation of the question. For example, a prompt to "Write a definition of ...
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  • 70.1k
151 votes
Accepted

How to handle students who try to negotiate away penalties for late submission of coursework?

Adhere to the guidelines and syllabus you posted. If students can get around consequences of late submission by arguing, you have set a precedent, and they (and future generations of students) will ...
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145 votes
Accepted

Is it ethical to limit marks based upon past performance?

What you describe is, in my opinion, horribly unethical! Yes, past performance is often a predictor of present performance, but there are so many other factors involved as well. What if a student ...
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  • 182k
142 votes

Should I intervene when a colleague in a different department makes students run laps as part of their grade?

As an outsider this seems ridiculous. I think a quick email to the chair of the department saying that you have an advisee who is worried about BIO302 (or whatever the number is) and the running ...
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  • 103k
140 votes

Difficult student would dispute every grade in the course and now wants letter of recommendation

It sounds like you've agreed to write a letter so I think you are committed unless the student releases you from your commitment. (Personally, I'd have said no in the first place and explained if ...
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121 votes
Accepted

Is it ethical to award points for hilariously bad answers?

Is it ethical to award a few points for this answer? No. It does not demonstrate understanding. If I wrote a good-intentioned, but poor answer and got the same amount of points, I'd be peeved.
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115 votes

Is it valid to modify a student's exam grade if you feel they did not earn it?

Since you ask, specifically, about legality, I'll say that it is unlikely that it would be a matter of criminal law anywhere, though, of course, I can't know the laws of every jurisdiction. But it ...
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  • 271k
112 votes
Accepted

Is it fair to give zeros to students who missed early assignments because they added the class late?

At most institutions, the last day to add a course is set up by the institution, not the professor. We have an obligation to honor that, which means allowing students to enroll, with full full ...
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  • 19.9k
112 votes

I found an error in my exam that caused me to lose time on other questions, resulting in a lower grade. How can I appeal?

How could I tell him to upgrade my grade and explain to him that I really deserve it and that I really need to have (19/20) so I can pass my semester? Don't tell him how to fix the error, and don't ...
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110 votes
Accepted

Should I intervene when a colleague in a different department makes students run laps as part of their grade?

If the class is about microbiology, the students’ grade should depend on their knowledge of microbiology, and only on that. (Edit: to clarify, “knowledge” covers things like lab skills and other ...
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  • 171k
109 votes
Accepted

How to deal with a professor who grades assignments and exams incorrectly

Not a definitive answer, since I’m a postdoc with comparatively limited experience of such conflict situations, but I do have a few suggestions. They aim to: maximise the chance of getting better ...
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  • 9,472
101 votes

How to deal with failing a student?

Sometimes a student's failure is a teaching success. The lesson is just not the one you wished that you were teaching.
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  • 182k
101 votes

As an evaluator in mathematics, how should I grade responses that answer the question asked, but in less detail than desired?

As an evaluator, suppose I decided to give three points to answer #1, four points to answer #2, and full points (5) to the last answer. Is it not recommended to do it that way? Absolutely not. You ...
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  • 171k
99 votes
Accepted

Test answer rejected for saying more than asked for

I know from personal experience that it's very frustrating not to get proper credit for knowledge that you think you demonstrated correctly, so let me start by saying I sympathize with your situation. ...
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  • 171k
98 votes
Accepted

Student gives two different answers to one exam question, one right and one wrong. How should I mark/grade this?

Sounds like the student has demonstrated partial mastery of the material: they were unable to select the correct method but were able to correctly apply the method once selected. So, absent other ...
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  • 52.7k
97 votes

What to do when majority of the students do not bother to do peer grading assignment?

If I understand right, you are penalizing students who did nothing wrong, because others were supposed to peer review their work and didn't? And you didn't bother to grade your own students' essays? ...
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  • 25.9k
95 votes

Student continues to email me after I told him I would not regrade his paper. Do I need to reply?

No, you don't need to reply, but you should make sure that you retain all evidence for your decisions in the event the student complains to some higher authority. Retain the email thread as well. ...
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  • 271k
93 votes

How to handle a student who will not accept that he is wrong?

Should I just tell him to talk to the instructor, and that my job is just marking? Yes. There's no point in getting into an extended argument with this student. The student thought his answers were ...
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93 votes
Accepted

The lecturer supposed to grade my presentation fell asleep while I held it. Should I complain?

The first thing to note here is that sleeping in such situations is often not a voluntary action, but a physiologically unavoidable response to the situation the body is in - many people die every ...
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  • 30.6k
90 votes

A student in my course does well on exams, but doesn't do the homework: Go easy on them, or make them "pay the price?"

I strongly recommend you start with whatever the policy is in your syllabus. Most syllabi contain details about grading, points allocation, etc. By starting here, you can avoid any claims of "unique ...
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  • 47.9k
90 votes
Accepted

Lecturer in a course I'm TA'ing refuses to give feedback on student assignments

No, you should not confront the lecturer again ("reopen") over this issue. That would not be an efficient use of your time. You've talked to the course instructor. She has explained to you her ...
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