It’s never over when it’s over

The semester is officially over and the grades are in, which means that it’s officially Grade Complaint Season. I don’t mind showing students numerical breakdowns of how they did in class (actually, I do mind that, a bit; I hate having to quantify everything), but what I really don’t like is finding multiple "Why did I get a B?" queries in my e-mail inbox. It makes me want to hide for the next two weeks and pretend I’ve skipped town already. Or growl and snarl and show my teeth.

On the upside, after this round is over, I’ll never have to deal with another grade complaint again unless I decide somewhere along the line that I really, really want to return to teaching, which looks unlikely at this point.

Oh, and see generally Michael Bérubé, whose blog I’ve been reading of late (must update blogroll again), on the subject of how to reduce grade inflation (NYT, registration required). What he says about the default A/B scale in English departments — "English departments have basically worked on the A/B binary system for some time: A’s and A-minuses for the best students, B’s for everyone else and C’s, D’s and F’s for students who miss half the classes or threaten their teachers with bodily harm" — is certainly true here. (Which is why it’s especially galling to get deluged with change-my-B-to-an-A requests at the end of each semester.) I like his proposal that colleges factor in "degree of difficulty" in determining students’ grades, but I’m kind of glad I won’t be there if it ever gets put into practice.

5 Responses to “It’s never over when it’s over”

  1. Michelle says:

    This is depressing.
    I cannot believe the number of students who show up trying to argue about their grade. My boss taught a grad-level grant-writing class this semester and the writing itself was so deplorable that most deserved a C on that basis alone, and still, they showed up whining and bitching about how difficult their lives were, how stressed out they were, yada yada, yeah, been there done that. I couldn’t believe how patient she was with them.
    Grade inflation. Hmm. I recently told one of my profs that I wasn’t planning to pursue the phd and he later gave me a better grade. I’ve not seen my term paper yet but I worry he’s just given up on me.

  2. Postdoc says:

    I know what you mean. I actually had a student query why she got a low A instead of a high A this semester. Having to justify an A?? What next??

  3. A few years ago I got an e-mail from a student who had written such a horrible paper that I couldn’t give it a passing grade. Instead, I gave her another chance to write it with the help of the University’s tutoring service. She was furious and stated, “I cant [sic] believe you want me to re-write this. My mom read it and she says you should give me an A.”
    I guess her mom should be teaching the class.
    I now make students self-grade (with very specific criteria). They don’t like doing it but I get no grade complaints after the term is over.

  4. Amanda says:

    “I actually had a student query why she got a low A instead of a high A this semester.”
    Been there, done that. Multiple times. In fact, two of the current round of grade complaints are from students who got A-minuses. I’m so not going to miss that.

  5. Grade Inflation

    It is past the college application hysteria, and past the drama of acceptance.