Feedback on being a better professor (ridiculously long) (Read 327 times)


And in the end...

     

    Oh my word, you are obviously not a student.  If unrounded, 89.8 is a B+, which, at least at my university, is a 3.3 on the 4 point scale, while a 90 is a 3.7.  Not rounding is obviously TRAGIC.

     

    No, I meant as the professor.  I fully understand why the student would petition for a grade review.  I just think, as a matter of practical reality, that in a situation like this there is ample reason to revisit the grading and "find" the needed couple of points.  While I am all for standing on principle, if practical reality says that the "cost" of the issue (my time, the dean's time, etc) exceeds the value of the principle... I'd decide that the acceptable margin of error on my grading is 2/10ths of 1%, change the grade, and move on... focusing my real efforts on those who warrant my time.

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    The GITM is moot.

      In all seriousness, is it worth anyone's time to argue over the difference between 89.8 and 90?

       

      A grade appeal is a direct challenge to one's integrity.   In effect, the student claims that the professor has acted in a capricious manner or has made an egregious error.  Because those things can happen, just about every institution has an appeals process. Unfortunately, the appeals process is abused frequently in cases just like this, which usually go nowhere. Additionally, most if not all appeals processes use the word student, not parents.

      2013 H1:  7 hours/week base.  Q3: Train for goal race.  Q4:  Goal Race.

         Typically curves are not arbitrary, it will be defined relative to other students. For example my organic chem class in college.  To get an A you needed to be in the 90th percentile of the class or higher...80th for a B....etc.  So it was not arbitrary, and was defined in advance, but it was relative to your performance vs others in the class rather than to the actual score on the test.  In the example above, a 70% average would usually get you an A (he was a challenging prof).  Conversely, in my MBA I took an economics class where I got an AB (weird scale, A-AB-B etc) despite having only missed 4 points during the whole semester because the class was so easy that a number of people had perfect or more-perfect-than-me performance.

         

        I've not seen truly arbitrary grading scales used after the fact, but that's not to say it isn't done.  I would think that would be setting the prof up for a LOT of headaches though.

         

        From my class experience there is a range, like you mentioned, but not set in stone or announced. In some class the A/B/C/D/F could be 10%/40%/30%/10%/10% (I'm making this up), and in another it could be 10%/30%/40%/15%/5%...etc. Also the profs seem to try to pick a cutoff at a place where there' s gap in the grade distribution, just so to avoid borderline cases (example 86 points for A because the next highest grade was an 84 from a particular student). What's I'm trying to say is that the mentality in my schools had always been: 1) Try to make the standard cutoff (90/80/70/60...etc) and 2) hope you get lucky if you are just a little below the cutoff. It's hard to argue for a grade "upgrade" when the cutoff is initially unknown and then set at a place that is not easy to "hop over"

          I wonder how common (or uncommon) is the adherence to the letter grade cutoffs in universities in general? In most of the classes I took (like at least a decade ago) 90 is only a minimum for an A, most class grades are curved and the cutoff is sort of arbitrary as decided by the professor (say, 85, or 80 for an A) at THE END of the semester, and never decided up-front.

           

          MTA: Worded it wrong, I meant to say a 90 guarantees an A but the cutoff can be lower (<90)

           

          For most of the classes for which we were graded on a curve there was the general understanding that the only thing that guarantees and A is a 100% score. Part of the risk of accepting the curve is knowing that if the average is 95% then 95% is a C.

           

          We also didn't do + or - grades so an A (4.0) and a B (3.0) could be the difference of a fraction of a % in final grade.

           

          Those were the rules and I never thought to question them (though I did petition to have a F changed to a B in one class where I scored 89% for the semester but due to an error made by the TA when entering my student ID number at the end of the semester I didn't have a grade submitted).

          zonykel


             

            No, I meant as the professor.  I fully understand why the student would petition for a grade review.  I just think, as a matter of practical reality, that in a situation like this there is ample reason to revisit the grading and "find" the needed couple of points.  While I am all for standing on principle, if practical reality says that the "cost" of the issue (my time, the dean's time, etc) exceeds the value of the principle... I'd decide that the acceptable margin of error on my grading is 2/10ths of 1%, change the grade, and move on... focusing my real efforts on those who warrant my time.

             

            I think she made a decision at the beginning of the course about the cut-offs.

             

             

            6) On being close to an A. I announced in class the first day that points cut-offs were not soft. One could use similar logic to lower a grade.

             


            And in the end...

               

              A grade appeal is a direct challenge to one's integrity.   In effect, the student claims that the professor has acted in a capricious manner or has made an egregious error. 

               

              In principle, yes.  In reality, the drama/effort over 2/10ths of 1% seems kind of silly to me.

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              The GITM is moot.


              Feeling the growl again

                 

                From my class experience there is a range, like you mentioned, but not set in stone or announced. In some class the A/B/C/D/F could be 10%/40%/30%/10%/10% (I'm making this up), and in another it could be 10%/30%/40%/15%/5%...etc. Also the profs seem to try to pick a cutoff at a place where there' s gap in the grade distribution, just so to avoid borderline cases (example 86 points for A because the next highest grade was an 84 from a particular student). What's I'm trying to say is that the mentality in my schools had always been: 1) Try to make the standard cutoff (90/80/70/60...etc) and 2) hope you get lucky if you are just a little below the cutoff. It's hard to argue for a grade "upgrade" when the cutoff is initially unknown and then set at a place that is not easy to "hop over"

                 

                I have never seen something like this employed personally.  I don't doubt this is what you experienced.

                 

                I would think it would make it EASIER to argue your grade.  If the cutoff is placed arbitrarily and after the fact, the prof is left with little logic to justify why it could not be in another spot and the student's grade changed.  IMHO a completely arbitrary system as you describe is not one I would ever use and opens up too much room for debate.

                 

                It is easy to defend the decision that an A is defined as scoring 90% or higher, or as being in the top 10% of the class.  It is very hard to defend that a student got a B because they got a 90% but the next highest student got a 95% and lots got 85-90% so it was just convenient to set the cutoff at 93%.

                "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                 


                Feeling the growl again

                   

                  In principle, yes.  In reality, the drama/effort over 2/10ths of 1% seems kind of silly to me.

                   

                  Students talk.  Once you start giving in and not enforcing your policies, the floodgates have opened and it becomes difficult to justify why you stand your ground in one situation but give in on another.  A little give to save the drama/effort can lead to a lot more drama/effort in the long run.

                  "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                   

                  zonykel


                    . Part of the risk of accepting the curve is knowing that if the average is 95% then 95% is a C.

                     

                     

                    I had a professor who hated confrontations, so he typically gave lots of high scores (in the 95 to 105 range). Then he would grade on a curve at the end. Although a seemingly nice guy, he ended up with lots of confrontations and complaints at the end of each quarter. To my dismay, he went from temporary professor to permanent. Oh well. I preferred the harder professors who made the rules clear and upfront.

                       It is easy to defend the decision that an A is defined as scoring 90% or higher, or as being in the top 10% of the class.  It is very hard to defend that a student got a B because they got a 90% but the next highest student got a 95% and lots got 85-90% so it was just convenient to set the cutoff at 93%.

                       

                      I agree that would be a bad scenario (to get in the >90% percentile and not get an A). All the curves I have encountered have cutoffs set at lower than the standard range, so I've forgotten to consider the above case (in my engineering school, top 10% percentile usually translated to numerical grades of >80-something)


                      And in the end...

                         

                        Students talk.  Once you start giving in and not enforcing your policies, the floodgates have opened and it becomes difficult to justify why you stand your ground in one situation but give in on another.  A little give to save the drama/effort can lead to a lot more drama/effort in the long run.

                         

                        Perhaps then, one would be better off allowing some latitude.  There are many principles to which we all will find reasonable exception from time to time.  I think 2/10ths of 1% fits in that category, but I'll admit that it's just a subjective opinion and I can't really argue the point.

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                        The GITM is moot.


                        Am I doing this right?

                           

                          I want to be Blackhawk helicopter parents.  We'll give you the best training and gear we can, but once you fast-rope into enemy territory,  Mom and I will be back in the O Club enjoying happy hour.  Go ahead and radio in for advice, but in the end it's your ass on the line so you'd better look out for it.

                           

                          +1

                          No excuses....

                             

                            I want to be Blackhawk helicopter parents.  We'll give you the best training and gear we can, but once you fast-rope into enemy territory,  Mom and I will be back in the O Club enjoying happy hour.  Go ahead and radio in for advice, but in the end it's your ass on the line so you'd better look out for it.

                             

                            This just needed to be quoted again

                            "You NEED to do this" - Shara


                            A Dance with Monkeys

                              The difference between the 89.8 and 90 is real, despite variability, and the early expectation was that grade cutoffs are firm.


                              AND the OP stated that at least 10 points on one exam were given as a freebie to accomodate variability, erring on the side of the student. Take that away and the raw score would be lower.

                                 

                                I want to be Blackhawk helicopter parents.  We'll give you the best training and gear we can, but once you fast-rope into enemy territory,  Mom and I will be back in the O Club enjoying happy hour.  Go ahead and radio in for advice, but in the end it's your ass on the line so you'd better look out for it.

                                 

                                Sad  It doesn't always work out that way, though.