Hot answers tagged

117

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.


115

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 could well be a matter of civil law and if this were known could easily generate a lawsuit against everyone involved. I think that a person would be very ...


112

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 open with this being a make-or-break for passing your semester. This will probably put him on the defensive, and make him less likely to be sympathetic. In fact, ...


68

You have a bigger problem than encouraging stricter grading. You need to provide consistent grading. Otherwise your scheme is fundamentally unfair. For starters you don't have an option to fail to provide a proper rubric. If you aren't doing that, then you are failing the students. If it is a lot of work to do it, then you have a large task, but a required ...


65

When dealing with angry students, your number one priority should be to de-escalate the situation and bring it back to a more factual ground. That means you want to: Stay calm. Even if you are getting agitated yourself, you should never let it show through in your answer (easier via email than personally, but the same principle applies independently of the ...


51

Any you in my answer is general. I am discussing the general ethics or the ethics of your professor’s actions here, not yours. You have a formal grading system (exams with points, a grading rubric mapping percentages to grades, some formula to derive the final percentage from the exam and other contributions, etc.) to make grading transparent and thus more ...


51

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? It sounds like you have a reasonable case to argue that you did not get a fair chance to demonstrate your knowledge of the material. Note the deliberate phrasing here: that is not the same as saying that you ...


48

There is no doubt in my mind the person in question earned two different distinctions, and used them correctly. Here are some examples at how they might be used throughout the US. At my undergraduate institution, "Latin honors" (cum laude) were solely a function of your overall GPA. The minimum to earn each distinction was a percentile determined ...


48

Here's a different view. You are responsible for managing your time during the exam. You are free to attempt the questions out of order, but if you are not making progress on a question after a while for whatever reason, you are supposed to make sure you complete the questions that are doable for you. Getting to the point where you had more questions still ...


46

This may be almost too obvious to be worth mentioning, but one idea you could consider is to study really really hard for this class in order to make sure you do not end up in the group of people who fail it, large though that group may be. It sounds like it’s not impossible to do well in the class, just more difficult than you are used to. A relevant idea ...


38

A problem I see here is that this scheme may motivate people to divide the points "tactically". Say our group project is worth 10 points and I only need 5 for my goal (which may be the least passing grade or the best grade or whatever). Then of course I would take only 5 points and give 15 to my collegue (which is more than the project is worth). ...


32

I tend to give at least 1 point out of 10 for almost anything that could be construed as being relevant to the question. Compared to the responses I tend to give 1/10 for, this is better in several regards: It has a logic to it. The writer obviously knows it is wrong. The writer demonstrates knowledge of something (in this case normal distributions). The ...


31

I find it helpful to describe the algorithm by which I will calculate the grades in the syllabus. Then, when I get this sort of question, I refer them to the syllabus (Yay! Maybe this means someone will actually read it someday). By algorithm, I mean something like: You will get 12 homework grades, the two lowest of which will be dropped. Homework grades ...


31

You are asking the question incorrectly. The grades alone don't tell whether the course is too easy. After all, upper division students have already proven themselves in earlier courses and the ones still there should be better "on average" than those in the first courses. To improve the question, ask yourself what it is necessary for students to ...


27

TLDR: it’s not technically illegal, but as for whether it is ethical and/or academically appropriate, it’s complicated. (That’s why the answer below is longer than I normally like answers to be — sorry for that.) Your story reflects a tension that exists between two different notions that one might define for what it means for a student to “deserve” to pass ...


25

It depends on what form of ethics you are following. Virtue ethics? Truth is a virtue; this answer is not true, so to reward it as though it was the truth is dishonest and unethical. Your job is to reward truthful answers, not funny ones, so you would be in dereliction of your duty. Hedonic ethics? What matters is making people happy. Giving the student ...


25

I think you're onto the right approach with the idea of a curve that only helps. Based on your description, it sounds like you are in the United States. If so, the simplest way to do this would be to compute twice: Use the standard US metric of A=90%-100%, B=80-89%, C=70-79%, D=60-69%, F<60%. Apply the curve. Give the student the maximum of the two ...


22

One solution to this, if you are willing to change the grading scheme, is Cumulative Grading, which I used for many years and explain in an answer to an older post. The student is always aware of where they are and what they need to do to achieve their goals. I found it very satisfactory and it also reduces complaints about grading. A search on this site ...


22

The honest answer to your question "how to deal with..." is to work hard and study so you will score the required minimum 30/100 on the midterm. And then continue working hard so you learn the material well enough that you can correctly answer many questions on the final. Good luck!


22

Your first step should be to make sure the mark is accurate before you reply. I once had a student complain about getting an "F". I looked in my gradebook and saw that the student had a "B"! My first thought was that I had written the wrong grade on the report sent to the registrar's office. I went, with the student, to the registrar's. ...


21

I like this as an experiment in ethics, but not as an actual grading scheme. If you allow team work, you will have a small number of people getting better grades than they might deserve. And...so what? It’s not intrinsically different from making homework part of the grade, where friends will help each other. Your job is to teach and assign grades you deem ...


20

This is of course why many systems (but not commonly in the US I understand) insist on blind double marking: that is, all marking is done by two people, neither of whom know the identity of the student they are grading. All of our systems and samples of our marking are inspected by "External Examiners": that is respected academics in the same field, but from ...


18

Marks are a measurement of how well the student knows the subject. So it depends on how much of a lack of knowledge that mistake represents: in most cases, if all steps are correct and only a number was copied wrongly, then obviously the knowledge of the subject is very good, and most of the question was done correctly, so "almost full marks" are ...


17

A few things to add: Be sure the TA's know you'll back them and will be the bad guy. The students know the TA's are using your guidelines. If a TA uses their judgement but was too harsh, you'll let both them and the student know it was your fault for not being more clear. Emphasize the benefits of consistency to the TA's. Remind them students compare ...


16

Actually there are many reasons that contribute to this, though as noted it isn't universal. First, there is no real basis of comparison between courses, even in the same major, since the tests, unlike, say the GRE, aren't standardized, nor do they have enough data points for valid statistical inference. The numbers, if reported, would be essentially ...


15

From my experience, the best way to ensure consistency is by setting simple, clear-cut rubrics. This can be done via a moderation exercise: have all the teaching staff mark 10 scripts together and see where the disagreements lie. Alternatively, if you have access to moderation tools like Gradescope, then this obviates the need to meet in person. Bottom line -...


15

From my perspective as a PHD student (the other side of the spectrum) I feel that there are some crucial aspects to giving helpful and encouraging feedback: Give the student constructive criticism. Give them the feeling that you are supportive of what they did (regardless of quality) and that you are giving feedback to improve their work in the future. Make ...


14

This isn't the sort of thing you should introduce after the fact. If you make it part of the course design, known to students at the start, then it might work, though it might just cause more complaining from the students. Teams can "share" the work while doing very different things. Each can consider their own contribution to be essential, while ...


13

Echoing some others' remarks: no, this is unethical, immoral, and unfair. The course materials should have described the rules of the game, and if someone scored certain points according to those rules, then, ... well, they did. Yes, it is true that "grading systems" do not reliably reflect "mastery of material" (whatever that supposedly means, anyway!), ...


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