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Napoleon Bonaparte

Is this kind of grading fair?

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This is my story. One of my courses this spring had the following breakup.

1. 10% for 5 paper critiquing assignments

2. 15% for homework

2. 25% for 2 projects

3. 25% for midterm

4. 25% for finals

Of the five paper critiquing assignments, I had not submitted one assignment. Now the last week before the finals everyone in my class requested for a final exam waiver. The prof thought about it for a while and agreed to give a final exam waiver to anyone who had submitted all the assignments. This rule he came up two days before the exam. Also he said that if anyone goes for the waiver then their grades would be as follows depending on their present average.

>85 A

77-85 B

<77 C

At that point of time I had 83.5 as my average. I would have got a B had I opted for the waiver. As I mentioned, I had not submitted one assignment. So he forced me to take the final exam. Most others got waiver. The finals was tough. So I could not score very well in it. My total average went down from 83.5 to 72. Because of that he gave me a C.

Now my question is

1. Is it fair to compare my score to that of others (since I have completed all the 100% of the course work while others have completed only 75%)

2. Do I have a case to pursue this further?

Edited by Napoleon Bonaparte

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I had not submitted one assignment.

Now my question is

1. Is it fair to compare my score to that of others (since I have completed all the 100% of the course work while others have completed only 75%)

2. Do I have a case to pursue this further?

But you didn't complete 100% of the coursework. You failed to turn in one paper. And your classmates did complete 100% of the coursework. A final exam isn't coursework. They were rewarded for doing all the assignments, which you did not do. I agree that it sucks that this opportunity for a waiver came up unexpectedly at the end of the term, but you failed to qualify for that waiver by your own action (or inaction, as the case may be).

I might approach the professor and ask if there's anything he is willing to do as far as a grade compromise for you, but I don't think I'd pursue it any higher up the chain of command than that, since you A.) didn't turn in an assignment and B.) apparently bombed the final, both of which are on you, not the prof.

Just my two cents. Good luck if you do pursue it, and sorry not to be more positive.

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But you didn't complete 100% of the coursework.

Yes, I agree

You failed to turn in one paper.

True. I Accept.

And your classmates did complete 100% of the coursework.

Not true. Most of them went for a waiver and completed only 75% of the course work

A final exam isn't coursework.

Can you please elaborate on that further. Because this definitely was part of the coursework as announced during the start of the semester.

They were rewarded for doing all the assignments, which you did not do.

Reward according to me is fair if it comes in the form of an opportunity to walk out of coursework with a present grade. But this should not come at the cost of creating an unfair competition for other fraction of the class. I am calling it unfair because, my final average was compared with those guys who opted for waiver which I dont think is fair.

I agree that it sucks that this opportunity for a waiver came up unexpectedly at the end of the term, but you failed to qualify for that waiver by your own action (or inaction, as the case may be).

I failed to qualify, I agree. But I still feel that my grades cant be screwed up so badly just for 1 paper critiquing assignment. Even had I submitted a blank document with gibberish in it, I would have been qualified for a waiver and got a B.

I might approach the professor and ask if there's anything he is willing to do as far as a grade compromise for you, but I don't think I'd pursue it any higher up the chain of command than that, since you A.) didn't turn in an assignment and B.) apparently bombed the final, both of which are on you, not the prof.

Just my two cents. Good luck if you do pursue it, and sorry not to be more positive.

Thanks a lot for your reply. I appreciate it.

Edited by Napoleon Bonaparte

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Coursework -- as I see it, anyway -- includes the papers and other assignments you do throughout the term. The final exam is simply a test of your (presumably cumulative) knowledge that you built by doing said coursework, reading the books/article necessary to complete it, and participating in class. So, a final exam is part of your grade, but I wouldn't call it coursework.

The prof's logic is probably that if you did all of the coursework, you've accumulated the knowledge necessary to perform well on the final, and thus don't need to actually take the final (thus saving him the time he'd have to spend grading it).

You make a good point about turning in a blank assignment for the one critique. Point that out to your prof. Maybe he'll be lenient. But I still wouldn't pursue it any further than that.

Edited to add: on review, it seems like maybe you're being graded on a curve? That might add a level of complexity to determining whether it's "fair" or not. Maybe a more math-oriented person could speak to that.

Edited by rogue

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Coursework -- as I see it, anyway -- includes the papers and other assignments you do throughout the term. The final exam is simply a test of your (presumably cumulative) knowledge that you built by doing said coursework, reading the books/article necessary to complete it, and participating in class. So, a final exam is part of your grade, but I wouldn't call it coursework.

The prof's logic is probably that if you did all of the coursework, you've accumulated the knowledge necessary to perform well on the final, and thus don't need to actually take the final (thus saving him the time he'd have to spend grading it).

You make a good point about turning in a blank assignment for the one critique. Point that out to your prof. Maybe he'll be lenient. But I still wouldn't pursue it any further than that.

Edited to add: on review, it seems like maybe you're being graded on a curve? That might add a level of complexity to determining whether it's "fair" or not. Maybe a more math-oriented person could speak to that.

Thanks a lot rouge for your reply. The coursework (in your context) covered only about 50% of the syllabus. The other 50% was covered in the finals. So finals definitely wasnt intended to test cumulative knowledge of the course work because, it covered only the second half of the syllabus.

And the grading was absolute. It was not curved.

Edited by Napoleon Bonaparte

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I failed to qualify, I agree. But I still feel that my grades cant be screwed up so badly just for 1 paper critiquing assignment. Even had I submitted a blank document with gibberish in it, I would have been qualified for a waiver and got a B.

But it wasn't the missing assignment that made you screw up your grade-- it was your bombed final. If the waiver only came up two days before the final, you should have been prepared for the final, anyway

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If you are interested in pursuing this, you may want to look into your school's policy regarding changes to the syllabus, if one exists. A syllabus isn't a legally binding contract, but your school may have a policy regarding major changes to course requirements late in the course. Then again, it may not, as these things vary from school to school. Still, be wary about going to head-to-head against a prof with administrators. You can end up just making yourself look bad to everyone involved.

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Or for that matter of fact, had everybody taken the finals, then the class average would have gone down and I would still be getting a B despite the fact that I had not submitted that one assignment.

You can't know that the class average would have gone down. Other students may have done significantly better on the final than you did, either raising their grade or letting them keep the same grade they had already earned.

If you are interested in pursuing this, you may want to look into your school's policy regarding changes to the syllabus, if one exists. A syllabus isn't a legally binding contract, but your school may have a policy regarding major changes to course requirements late in the course. Then again, it may not, as these things vary from school to school. Still, be wary about going to head-to-head against a prof with administrators. You can end up just making yourself look bad to everyone involved.

Agreed. It may not be allowed to change one's syllabus so late in the semester. At the same time, the syllabus may say that it is subject to change. And, at any rate, challenging a prof and the administration on this will make you look like a whiner. Even if you do get the grade changed, you will generate a lot of ill will in your department towards you.

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You are not in competition with the other students for grades (no curve, right?) so it doesn't matter if they took the final or not.

No, I think it matters because. For others their score was average of 5 Assignments + Homeworks + 1 Midterm. But for me it was average if 5 Assignments + Homeworks +1 Midterm + 1 Finals.

An incredibly dull analogy would be to compare speed of two people, one of whom run only 100 meters while the other run 200 meters. Obviously the one who run larger distance will have lower average speed than the former [for obvious reasons]. This dosent meant that the latter has lower performance than the former.

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An incredibly dull analogy would be to compare speed of two people, one of whom run only 100 meters while the other run 200 meters. Obviously the one who run larger distance will have lower average speed than the former [for obvious reasons]. This dosent meant that the latter has lower performance than the former.

Right, except that running longer distances has a direct impact on speed, while doing more assignments does not have a direct impact on your ability to do good work. If anything, you had more chances to do well.

But the point is that it is completely irrelevant how your classmates were scored, or what their grades were. Your grades based on your performance is what count. Stop worrying about the other folk and take some responsibility for your role in this situation. You didn't do all of the assignments, so you weren't eligible for the special exemption. Based on those circumstances, you earned a certain grade. Other students do not enter into it.

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Anyway, thanks everyone for your time.

I will try to do something about it.

In the mean while I will be greatful if mods delete this thread as this issue is sorted out.

Thank you

Edited by Napoleon Bonaparte

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Agreed. It may not be allowed to change one's syllabus so late in the semester. At the same time, the syllabus may say that it is subject to change. And, at any rate, challenging a prof and the administration on this will make you look like a whiner. Even if you do get the grade changed, you will generate a lot of ill will in your department towards you.

I agree 100% with this. He shouldn't have made a change to the course like that in the middle of the term, but you could hurt yourself a lot more by ticking off this prof and other people in the department. I would try talking to the prof in person to explain your view, but I wouldn't go any further.

I also ask, is the grade important for the sake of a grade, or does getting a C put you on academic probation? If the latter is the case, I would def talk to the professor and politely ask for his help. If it's just your pride, just let it drop. Not worth the repercussions.

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An incredibly dull analogy would be to compare speed of two people, one of whom run only 100 meters while the other run 200 meters. Obviously the one who run larger distance will have lower average speed than the former [for obvious reasons]. This dosent meant that the latter has lower performance than the former.

Flawed, too. You yourself have admitted you did 100% while others did 75%, whereas your analogy was 50% to 100%. That's a significant difference. If you compared a race of 100m to 135m, you would have a better idea. Furthermore, in this race, the person running the longer length had an additional day (or more) to train since they did not run at the same time as the other person. So poor analogy, to be sure.

As for reality, simply put, your grade is the purview of the professor. They are the expert, you are not. And barring behavior in direct contradiction of defined codes of conduct, a prof can do as he or she pleases. Liken it to a job: your coworkers show up on Monday and put in their eight hours, whereas you stay home to play golf. Two weeks later, the boss shows up and gives a two days off to all those who came on Monday, but asks you to stay. You gonna argue that? Be my guest, but guess who's gonna make the final decision?

I would say to consider this a lesson learned. Though the prof defintely threw you a curve, you could have made an A on the final, rendering your grade a moot point (in fact, I would have done so just to prove the prof wrong). You did not, so your lower average is far more the result of your own lack of facility with the subject matter (or sense of entitlement) than your prof's decision to hook everyone else up (and this may be a common thing that the prof has done for years and simply chooses not to put in the syllabus).

In the end, you're starting to run with the big dogs now, and if you can't run at the same speed you might very well get left behind. A education is required by law only through the age of 16. After that, you have to work for it and, to be perfectly honest, it looks like you didn't.

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He shouldn't have made a change to the course like that in the middle of the term

I have seen very few syllabi that did not contain a "this syllabus subject to change" clause somewhere within.

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I have seen very few syllabi that did not contain a "this syllabus subject to change" clause somewhere within.

Hmmm point noted. Looks like the overwhelming majority concur that the fault is on my side. Anyway, my actual intention was to clarify if I was the one who erred or not [and not to take a warpath against the prof...]

Ok thank you so much everyone. I have come to the conclusion that I could have done better [eventhough I feel what has happened to me is a little harsh]. But this is a good lesson on why not to ignore the most trivial things. Anyway thank you all for your insights. I appreciate it.

It will be really great if mods can delete this thread. I dont want to sound like a whiner.

Edited by Napoleon Bonaparte

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I have come to the conclusion that I could have done better [eventhough I feel what has happened to me is a little harsh].

I think that's an excellent summary of the situation. I do not mean to excuse the prof entirely, since I do think it was a bit of an extreme step (i.e. one that I would not take as a prof), but your acknowledgment of your part in it is important as well.

It will be really great if mods can delete this thread. I dont want to sound like a whiner.

I think you clarified yourself rather well and anyone who follows the thread will not think poorly of you. I know that I, at least, do not.

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