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Wednesday, May 3, 2006
By Dr. Steven Taylor

One of the things that bugs me about students begging for points at the end of the semester to try and boost their course grades from one letter grade to the next is the assumption that nowhere in the entire class did they even get the benefit of the doubt. They never think that they get more points than they deserved, but always think that they deserve a few more. As such, the “if I could just get 5 more points on the final–I mean it’s only a few points” argument somehow sounds good to them.

It may be that one could argue that on exam X one could wring a few more points, but it is equally true that perhaps that essay that I scored as a “B” was really a “B-” and I made a mistake in your favor.

So unless I am going to fine-tooth comb everything I graded for a given semester (which would probably result in me finding more errors on the student’s part than my own), I am thinking that students ought to stop begging for a point here or a point there.

If I make a mistake (as I did today, and was called on it) then please let me know. If you didn’t earn the grade you wanted, however, please don’t pester me.

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7 Comments

  1. You could always reply by saying things like, “if you could just have studied 5 more minutes for the final–I mean it’s only a few minutes.”

    Comment by Richard Scott Nokes — Thursday, May 4, 2006 @ 6:58 am

  2. No joke.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, May 4, 2006 @ 8:03 am

  3. I require formal, written appeals before I will even consider changing a grade. I tell them the burden of proof is on them to explain why what they wrote (not what they wish they had written or were thinking at the time) actually is correct. And I will review all other answers on any multi-part exam. And they will not be notified till after the end of the quarter of my decision.

    The process works well (for me): Few appeals. Granted, these are masters students, not undergrads. But before I instituted these procedures, I used to get a lot more “point-bargaining.”

    Comment by Matthew Shugart — Thursday, May 4, 2006 @ 9:49 am

  4. That is something to condsider.

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Thursday, May 4, 2006 @ 10:01 am

  5. If a student’s opinion is welcome here, please allow me to agree wholeheartedly both with the original sentiments and the first comment offered by Mr. Nokes. It wouldn’t even occur to me to beg for extra points on a paper or a test. Does it make me old-fashioned that I would rather earn my own grade in its entirety?

    Comment by Willowmist — Saturday, May 6, 2006 @ 8:04 am

  6. All opinions welcome.

    And the attitude of which you speak doesn’t make you old fashioned, it makes you right! :)

    Comment by Dr. Steven Taylor — Saturday, May 6, 2006 @ 10:56 am

  7. [...] leagues are just now getting finished with their semesters. Steven Taylor comments on grade negotiations, and Chris Lawrence observes that he gets a lot of “grade grubbing” [...]

    Pingback by Arguing with signposts… — Wednesday, May 10, 2006 @ 8:51 am

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