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How to handle "argumentative" students?


harrisonfjord

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I am a new TA, this is my first semester. I am still working my way through things and learning. I have one group of students who are complaining about their project grades, but they showed up late for their presentations, did not turn in half of the assignment and didn't even look at the rubric that I handed out in class and posted online. They do not attend class regularly, they leave early/show up late and they generally just are disrespectful. They have never once asked me for help or emailed me on a regular basis to clarify things.

 

They continue to hound me via email asking me why they received the grades they did. I gave them a breakdown of what they were missing/what they did well and they are straight up trying to argue with me. I told them I would meet with them in person to discuss the grades. Any advice on handing students who argue about grades with grace? 

Edited by harrisonfjord
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Unfortunately, they are just persistent. Whenever we have even one student complaint I have to meet with the department. It is usually pretty obvious that the student is not doing their work or failing to attend class, but since this is finals week it is even more annoying. I already set the meeting so I cannot cancel. I genuinely want this student to understand why she lost points and failed the project. I'm just looking for general advice on how to avoid a power struggle situation and how to handle students like this? She's probably going to complain to the department anyway and I just want to be sure I did everything possible to address her concerns beforehand.

Edited by harrisonfjord
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I've found it is something that gets easier to deal with over time. As a TA starting out you feel nervous, unsure if you even *are* qualified to teach and perhaps could have made the grading rubrics clearer beforehand. Anyway, I'm almost certain that students can sense this kind of uncertainty in their TA, even if they couldn't articulate it.  

 

Be briskly firm, but polite. Have a stock set of phrases to use "You needed to do X to get an A grade...and you didn't do that." Remember that you are in charge and that the power rests firmly with you. Do not get drawn into arguments with the student - state your reasons and keep stating them if they keep on arguing. Do not talk more than is necessary - anything you say an opportunistic/desperate student will want to use against you. You aren't actually obliged to waste time with the student if they are being argumentative and refusing to listen to you - tell them that. 

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I agree with St Andrews Lynx. I always make a grading matrix beforehand. If they argue, I pull out the matrix and show them. If they argue with interpretation, I make it clear that my interpretation is the only one that counts.**

 

If they ever pull the "But Student X here made the same mistake and only lost 2 points, why did I lose 3?" and if the matrix says "-3 for that thing", then I would usually ask to see Student X and regrade their assignment. Generally, my rule about regrading is that I will take the entire assignment and regrade the entire thing. 

 

(**Note: For things like this, it really really helps to have clear communication with the prof for the course. At the beginning, the prof and I always decide ahead of time who is responsible for what so that the students can't go to the other when one doesn't give them what they want. For example, generally, we decide that the prof is the only one who is allowed to give extensions while the TA has absolute authority on grading homework. If a student asks the prof to regrade something, the prof will just turn it over to me.)

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When I was a TA I was told by the prof that if you give plenty of feedback on assignments and clearly point out what was wrong or lacking in the assignment then you will get less complaints. Of course, this doesn't eliminate complaints completely but it will help a lot.

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St Andrews Lynx, thank you so so much for the input. I actually spent several hours making this rubric even clearer than the first project. They had two months to complete the project as well and I extended the deadline from a Friday to a Monday, so they had an entire extra weekend to finish the project. I listened to students who said they had issues with the project and stayed after every class period to answer questions. No one from this group asked me for any help. The students who are complaining are also the ones who turned in the project late. Only 5 groups out of a 100+ person class turned in the projects late. Everyone else managed to get them turned in on time. 

 

Thank you both for the advice about interpretation and the set of stock phrases. That really helps out a lot. One student is demanding a B, but has no rationale for it. She does not even send me emails with complete sentences or capitalization. Her paper was so grammatically incorrect but I did not deduct points for that. 

 

Jenste, that is also really great advice. I did provide comments to them about where they lost points/did well, but they are arguing with me over my rationale. It's all really a matter of interpretation and I think they are just trying to challenge my authority. I offered to meet with them to show them how I graded the assignment. It is very evident these students did not even look at the rubric even though I handed it out in class and posted it online for them.

Edited by harrisonfjord
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In the future, don't discuss grades over email at all. Only discuss it in person. And, at that time, ask the student why they think the grade they received is not correct based on the rubric and guidelines distributed for the assignment. That usually helps them see that they have no real basis for receiving a higher grade.

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Guest Gnome Chomsky

They do seem pretty persistent and motivated. You should say to them, "Where was this fire during the semester? You put more effort into disputing the grade than doing the project."

Edited by Gnome Chomsky
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I should clarify, I don't discuss their grades through email. The course is a lecture course with an online LMS (and there is a box for comments on each graded assignment). It is a common standard among my university's guidelines to post feedback with the assignment grade in the virtual gradebook and the student is allowed to view the comments. I invited them to discuss it in person for this reason. I do not generally discuss grades via email. 

 

 

Gnome Chomsky, I really wish I could say this to my students. If they had put the effort they spent arguing into the project, they would have been successful. 

Edited by harrisonfjord
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Thank you both for the advice about interpretation and the set of stock phrases. That really helps out a lot. One student is demanding a B, but has no rationale for it. She does not even send me emails with complete sentences or capitalization. Her paper was so grammatically incorrect but I did not deduct points for that. 

 

It gets worse when they do give you rationale. I had a student who said they were on academic probation and if they didn't get a 70% in my class they would have to drop out of school. I just said that I was sorry, but it wouldn't be fair to the other students, many of whom would also have good reasons for wanting an extra 3% on their final grade. (And what I thought but didn't say was, "If this grade was so important you should have studied more.") 

 

At least the story ends well: The following term I saw the student on campus walking to class so either they worked it out or were full of shit. Either way, I stuck to my guns.

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If they ever pull the "But Student X here made the same mistake and only lost 2 points, why did I lose 3?" and if the matrix says "-3 for that thing", then I would usually ask to see Student X and regrade their assignment. Generally, my rule about regrading is that I will take the entire assignment and regrade the entire thing. 

 

 

I usually just say, "Student X isn't the one we're discussing here" or something like that. I don't think I would regrade an assignment to lower the grade, even if I knew I made a mistake. Sometimes instructors just make mistakes that benefit the student, and lucky for the student. Unless the grading is wildly inaccurate or throws off a bell curve or something, I'm not going to take back someone's exam to lower their grade because of my own error.

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I usually just say, "Student X isn't the one we're discussing here" or something like that. I don't think I would regrade an assignment to lower the grade, even if I knew I made a mistake. Sometimes instructors just make mistakes that benefit the student, and lucky for the student. Unless the grading is wildly inaccurate or throws off a bell curve or something, I'm not going to take back someone's exam to lower their grade because of my own error.

 

I agree that I would never force someone to give me back their exam/paper to regrade because of my own error and that if I screw up and gave extra point, then lucky student! This means, to me, that if I made a mistake with X's paper, then lucky X gets to keep the extra point but that doesn't mean everyone else gets an extra point too.

 

I guess I wasn't super clear in my older post--what I mean is that if two students (X and Y) come up to me and Y says "X over here only lost 2 points" then I would say "well if X would like to give it to me, I can fix that mistake I made" (in a joking way) and basically state that my policy is to correct any mistakes not to give everyone bonus points when I make a mistake. Needless to say, I have never actually deducted points in this manner but I find that this statement is an effective way for students to understand that I will not give Y additional points because of this.

 

And as for completely regrading an assignment, I choose to do this because I feel that if I am trying to regrade on the spot with the student looking at me expectantly, it puts a lot of unwanted pressure and could potentially cause me to grade unfairly in one way or another. So, unless it's something silly like I just didn't see the final answer on the back of the page or I added up the points incorrectly, I will ask to take it back and regrade it completely. I also choose to do this because it prevents some of the more aggressive/argumentative students from thinking that they can always get a couple more points if they argue and fight for them.

 

Again, to clarify, I don't ever force anyone to hand back their assignment--once I grade it, enter it into the spreadsheet and give it back to the student, I consider the grade final unless the student chooses for me to grade it again (and it's within course policy for a regrade).

Edited by TakeruK
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I agree that I would never force someone to give me back their exam/paper to regrade because of my own error and that if I screw up and gave extra point, then lucky student! This means, to me, that if I made a mistake with X's paper, then lucky X gets to keep the extra point but that doesn't mean everyone else gets an extra point too.

 

I guess I wasn't super clear in my older post--what I mean is that if two students (X and Y) come up to me and Y says "X over here only lost 2 points" then I would say "well if X would like to give it to me, I can fix that mistake I made" (in a joking way) and basically state that my policy is to correct any mistakes not to give everyone bonus points when I make a mistake. Needless to say, I have never actually deducted points in this manner but I find that this statement is an effective way for students to understand that I will not give Y additional points because of this.

 

And as for completely regrading an assignment, I choose to do this because I feel that if I am trying to regrade on the spot with the student looking at me expectantly, it puts a lot of unwanted pressure and could potentially cause me to grade unfairly in one way or another. So, unless it's something silly like I just didn't see the final answer on the back of the page or I added up the points incorrectly, I will ask to take it back and regrade it completely. I also choose to do this because it prevents some of the more aggressive/argumentative students from thinking that they can always get a couple more points if they argue and fight for them.

 

Again, to clarify, I don't ever force anyone to hand back their assignment--once I grade it, enter it into the spreadsheet and give it back to the student, I consider the grade final unless the student chooses for me to grade it again (and it's within course policy for a regrade).

 

Ah, okay. That makes sense. If two students came to me with the complaint that I've given one of them a lower grade for the same answer, then yeah, the student who got the accidental "benefit" point has put himself in a bad spot.

 

I've never had that exact situation, but I have had students who came to me and complain that I let someone else in the class hand in late work or miss an additional day so they should be able to too, etc. And sometimes that is the case, but it usually involves special circumstances. So I tell the complaining student that other students are none of their business and that I'm not at liberty to discuss anyone else's circumstances, end of discussion.

Edited by hashslinger
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It gets worse when they do give you rationale. I had a student who said they were on academic probation and if they didn't get a 70% in my class they would have to drop out of school. I just said that I was sorry, but it wouldn't be fair to the other students, many of whom would also have good reasons for wanting an extra 3% on their final grade. (And what I thought but didn't say was, "If this grade was so important you should have studied more.") 

 

At least the story ends well: The following term I saw the student on campus walking to class so either they worked it out or were full of shit. Either way, I stuck to my guns.

 

Sorry I should have been more specific, I meant rationale that actually has a bearing on their grade. This girl that was arguing with me didn't turn in portions of the project, "but she wrote three pages" and thinks she deserves at least a B. It's total B.S. I invited her to come speak with me during office hours and she didn't show up. It's so frustrating dealing with students like this because I bend over backward to help them and it never matters anyway. She still failed the class because she didn't even take the final…that was online, open book and open for 3 days. 

 

I know what you mean though. It is awful when a student says they need "X" grade for some reason or another. Glad things worked out well anyway.

Edited by harrisonfjord
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Handling argumentative students over grading is actually very simple, for the most part. Instead of defending your grading, teach them how to advocate for themselves. The first step is to reassure yourself that you're human and you make mistakes and, more importantly, if you change a grade after careful consideration and acknowledging your error in a mature fashion that you can support with your course, you will get more respect from the students in general.

To teach them how to advocate for their grade (because profs do make mistakes, or they grade when grumpy, or something), don't answer their question(s), ask them a question. For example, why did Joe get 20 points on this and I only got 19? Stop and look at it thoughtfully for a period of time. In composition, I spend about 1 minute of time considering a paragraph, no less than 30 seconds considering a sentence. In other fields, an appropriate amount of time. This has two purposes. One, it gives them the impression that you are taking their concerns seriously and they appreciate that. Two, it allows you to stop and really think about why you did what you did and how that relates to the assessment criteria you applied--not why they got the points the got, but how their work relates to the grading rubric/assessment criteria. The next step is to shift their work so you can both examine it, but mostly so they have a stronger view of it. Then ask them what grade they should have gotten and why. If you have a copy of your assessment criteria that they can view, get it out. Lead them into making a persuasive case for their grade. If they have a different grade for the exact same work, obviously you've got to fix your mistake. However, most grading isn't like a set of basic addition problems in base ten, where it's either a mis-mark or it's not. A lot of grading is subjective because no two answers will be the same. Even multiple guess problems aren't pick the correct answer, but pick the best answer. Teach them how to present an argument with supporting evidence. It should never be a case of Joe got a 20 and I got a 19, my answer isn't that different, it's not fair, you should give me a 20, too. It should always be: I think I should have gotten this particular grade/this particular problem right because of X, Y, and X (all taken from lecture notes, the text, other credible sources, and/or your assessment criteria.)

Usually the first time you do this to them, they're completely unprepared. Smile. Tell the student that you'd like to give them the opportunity to prepare a bit with the text/lecture notes/whatever, so you'll see them in the next few days (name a day and time that would be convenient) to discuss the grade further. By giving them a specific appointment time, you focus their attention on when it would be good for them to come see you rather than on trying to argue fair instead of arguing the material.

The key here isn't that you stop them from arguing with you, it's that you stop them from arguing stupid. You can't defend against a student's conception of fair because they've already made up their mind what the fair grade should be based on, usually, personal feelings. Instead, you teach them to argue with you based on course material, which you can defend because it's not about feelings, it's about the course material.

I hand my rubric out at the beginning of the course, along with a four paragraph essay my then 14 year old kid wrote, and I teach them how I (and most people in composition) grade essays. I explain why I don't really care if they end sentences with a preposition, but their next professor might react any one of the more disgusting scenes from the Exorcist for the same offense. Then I tell them that if they believe the grade they get isn't what they earn, then they should come to my office hours with the rubric and their paper and make a case for the grade they should have. Of course, the first day of class, right after I pass out the syllabus, I sit on a table (if possible) and ask them how they know I'm qualified to teach the course.

There are some students that this does not work for. They argue because they don't believe you have the right to "give" them any grade other than what they think they "earned." Be firm, but pleasant (as possible). This is the grade this work earned; see chapter two in the textbook. If they don't drop it, refer them to your supervisor. ALWAYS maintain a log. Date, time, potential witnesses, and the gist of what of you said without editorializing.

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Thanks, it got a bit complicated because the professor ended up retiring early this semester and the other GTA in the class became instructor of record, so I kind of had to take on the role of two people. It was a stressful and tough semester for me since I just started working as a TA.

 

danieleWrites, great advice. The only issue is that some of these problem students don't even come by office hours so there's never a chance for me to enact some of these ideas or else I would. I totally agree with you about involving the student in the process. I really do appreciate you taking the time to outline this process though. I will keep it in mind for future semesters.

 

I really haven't been struggling with "so-and-so got a better grade than I did" because each member of their group earns the same grade for the project. It was mainly just disagreements on the actual grading of the assignment even though I made a very clear and concise rubric. It's hard dealing with students who just don't care. This class had the opportunity to earn an additional 20 extra credit points to their OVERALL grade, so its not like I was being some tyrant and wasn't trying to help them. Only 8 out of over 100 students actually did the extra credit.

Edited by harrisonfjord
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Handling argumentative students over grading is actually very simple, for the most part. Instead of defending your grading, teach them how to advocate for themselves. The first step is to reassure yourself that you're human and you make mistakes and, more importantly, if you change a grade after careful consideration and acknowledging your error in a mature fashion that you can support with your course, you will get more respect from the students in general.

To teach them how to advocate for their grade (because profs do make mistakes, or they grade when grumpy, or something), don't answer their question(s), ask them a question. For example, why did Joe get 20 points on this and I only got 19? Stop and look at it thoughtfully for a period of time. In composition, I spend about 1 minute of time considering a paragraph, no less than 30 seconds considering a sentence. In other fields, an appropriate amount of time. This has two purposes. One, it gives them the impression that you are taking their concerns seriously and they appreciate that. Two, it allows you to stop and really think about why you did what you did and how that relates to the assessment criteria you applied--not why they got the points the got, but how their work relates to the grading rubric/assessment criteria. The next step is to shift their work so you can both examine it, but mostly so they have a stronger view of it. Then ask them what grade they should have gotten and why. If you have a copy of your assessment criteria that they can view, get it out. Lead them into making a persuasive case for their grade. If they have a different grade for the exact same work, obviously you've got to fix your mistake. However, most grading isn't like a set of basic addition problems in base ten, where it's either a mis-mark or it's not. A lot of grading is subjective because no two answers will be the same. Even multiple guess problems aren't pick the correct answer, but pick the best answer. Teach them how to present an argument with supporting evidence. It should never be a case of Joe got a 20 and I got a 19, my answer isn't that different, it's not fair, you should give me a 20, too. It should always be: I think I should have gotten this particular grade/this particular problem right because of X, Y, and X (all taken from lecture notes, the text, other credible sources, and/or your assessment criteria.)

Usually the first time you do this to them, they're completely unprepared. Smile. Tell the student that you'd like to give them the opportunity to prepare a bit with the text/lecture notes/whatever, so you'll see them in the next few days (name a day and time that would be convenient) to discuss the grade further. By giving them a specific appointment time, you focus their attention on when it would be good for them to come see you rather than on trying to argue fair instead of arguing the material.

The key here isn't that you stop them from arguing with you, it's that you stop them from arguing stupid. You can't defend against a student's conception of fair because they've already made up their mind what the fair grade should be based on, usually, personal feelings. Instead, you teach them to argue with you based on course material, which you can defend because it's not about feelings, it's about the course material.

I hand my rubric out at the beginning of the course, along with a four paragraph essay my then 14 year old kid wrote, and I teach them how I (and most people in composition) grade essays. I explain why I don't really care if they end sentences with a preposition, but their next professor might react any one of the more disgusting scenes from the Exorcist for the same offense. Then I tell them that if they believe the grade they get isn't what they earn, then they should come to my office hours with the rubric and their paper and make a case for the grade they should have. Of course, the first day of class, right after I pass out the syllabus, I sit on a table (if possible) and ask them how they know I'm qualified to teach the course.

There are some students that this does not work for. They argue because they don't believe you have the right to "give" them any grade other than what they think they "earned." Be firm, but pleasant (as possible). This is the grade this work earned; see chapter two in the textbook. If they don't drop it, refer them to your supervisor. ALWAYS maintain a log. Date, time, potential witnesses, and the gist of what of you said without editorializing.

 

I think this is a good approach. But FWIW, I take a slightly different approach. I, personally, would not ever, ever change a grade I have already given unless I clearly miscalculated or overlooked something or made some obvious and quantifiable mistake. Grades are indeed subjective: I might assign a slightly different grade to a paper based on when I grade in relation to the other papers (before or after I've seen how other students completed the essay, for instance), and to obviate this issue I reconsider grades multiple times before returning the essays. But I do think we need to trust our own professional judgment to some extent and not allow our own standards and grading scale to be "moved" based on the arguments that students might be able to make. I don't think it's necessarily about our egos (although no one likes to be second guessed); for me, it's about trusting my professional judgment so I can guide students toward writing a better next paper.

 

I try to present grading as more a "learning experience": here is my professional judgment of your work, and here is what you can do to write a better paper in the near future. When I write comments, I generally conceptualize them as a list of recommendations rather than justifications. And when students come to see me in conference, I avoid defending my grade and instead present my appraisal of their work as advice for what to avoid or implement in the next paper or next assignment. Just taking this attitude generally works--students come into the conference asking to better "understand" what needed more work and to get advice for the next paper.

 

Sometimes I let students rewrite their papers if they ask or if they clearly didn't understand the assignment. However, I would never change a grade or let students think the door is open for a grade change.

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Hashslinger, you make some excellent points. As I am still learning, you are absolutely right. This isn't about my "ego" when I'm grading the papers. If anything, I am too lenient. I totally agree with the idea that changing grades or opening the door to doing so might backfire. I wouldn't mind grading re-written papers or helping out students however I can. However it does prove rather difficult in a class of over 100 students (because I then have to give the opportunity to all students) and that requires a lot of extra grading time. If I have the time, no issue, but if it's a week or two before the semester ends...not going to happen. 

Edited by harrisonfjord
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  • 4 weeks later...

I have a strict policy that if students want to dispute a grade they must wait 24 hours after I give them the grading sheet back to give me a written reason as to what exactly they feel was graded incorrectly. If you sit there and explain why you gave every single point you will simply talk yourself into corners when you get to the more subjective points.

 

Making them wait at least a day (and I do this whether they are angry or not) allows them to cool off a bit. Making them write what they think I did correctly gives them less ammunition (they often focus on small points when I tend to focus on the bigger things) and keeps us on track. It also gives a paper trail if you do have to go through more official dispute processes. Luckily, I have establish early in the semester that grade reviews can make your grade go up or down and that I am a lot nicer than my boss is, so I don't really have to deal with this much.

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They do seem pretty persistent and motivated. You should say to them, "Where was this fire during the semester? You put more effort into disputing the grade than doing the project."

 

I strongly recommend that you do not participate in this type of back and forth with undergraduates no matter how much they may merit such a reply nor how satisfying it would be to provide one.

 

IME, interacting with argumentative undergraduates is almost as difficult as managing malingering Teamsters. Rolling around in the mud with either makes matters worse, not better.

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I have a strict policy that if students want to dispute a grade they must wait 24 hours after I give them the grading sheet back to give me a written reason as to what exactly they feel was graded incorrectly. If you sit there and explain why you gave every single point you will simply talk yourself into corners when you get to the more subjective points.

 

Making them wait at least a day (and I do this whether they are angry or not) allows them to cool off a bit. Making them write what they think I did correctly gives them less ammunition (they often focus on small points when I tend to focus on the bigger things) and keeps us on track. It also gives a paper trail if you do have to go through more official dispute processes. Luckily, I have establish early in the semester that grade reviews can make your grade go up or down and that I am a lot nicer than my boss is, so I don't really have to deal with this much.

 

I know a lot of people who implement the "24 hour rule." If it works for someone, then more power to them. But I'm personally not a huge fan of it. There's what you're saying and then what they're hearing. You're saying that they need to cool down for 24 hours (for their protection more than anything); they're hearing that they did terrible on this test or exam--so badly that they might not be able to control themselves. They're also hearing that YOU are the one who they will obviously be angry with because you have that kind of power. They're hearing that you're the antagonist, not the impartial person who simply evaluations their work in an impersonal, detached way. 

 

When I give back papers, I tell the students that there were "many wonderful papers" but that, yes, some of them needed some work. (Telling the students that some of them were good lets the others know that it IS possible to get a good grade and that other people in the class know what they're doing). Then we take a little time to go over the issues. Then, before I pass back papers, I remind them that I'm available in office hours and that they should feel free to bring their papers by to chat. I also tell them that they can email me for an appointment time if they can't make my office hours, and then I remind them that I don't discuss grades over email. I tell them once more that if they don't understand my comments, or if anything is unclear, that they should not hesitate to come see me.

 

Surprisingly this works; I have had very few students who blew up at me or who wrote long screedy emails. Only one in the last 5 years, I think. (And I teach somewhere between 40 and 80 students a semester.)

 

I just think that sometimes when you institute a rule like "no talking to me for 24 hours!" it kind of makes you look defensive, and it seems to tell them that you're expecting the worst of them. I also wouldn't use the word "dispute" when talking about grades. Because there's nothing to dispute. There's your grade, and their understanding of the rationale for that grade. The point of any kind of after-the-fact conference would be to gain a better understanding of how the paper or exam went wrong and how it might be improved. Basically, it's a feedback conference.

 

But if it works for you, then by all means do it. I just wanted to offer a slightly different perspective.

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I agree with what hashslinger says about arbitrary 24 hour rules. I think it's possible to get the "cool off" period desired without appearing as the antagonist by simply asking that all questions about grading come in person rather than by email. 24 hours is not a magical time period that cools everyone off! Most of the time, when a student wants to discuss a grade with me, they send me an email and ask when they can meet me. This back-and-forth generally makes it so the meeting is not until the next day anyways! The only time I get a question immediately after I hand back the work is if they were confused about something I wrote (or if I just missed an entire page of work). In my experience, when students get a grade they were not expecting, they do take the time to review it and decide what they want to say to me anyways. So, in my opinion, there is no need to have additional and arbitrary requirements for talking to you!

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I agree with what hashslinger says about arbitrary 24 hour rules. I think it's possible to get the "cool off" period desired without appearing as the antagonist by simply asking that all questions about grading come in person rather than by email. 24 hours is not a magical time period that cools everyone off! Most of the time, when a student wants to discuss a grade with me, they send me an email and ask when they can meet me. This back-and-forth generally makes it so the meeting is not until the next day anyways! The only time I get a question immediately after I hand back the work is if they were confused about something I wrote (or if I just missed an entire page of work). In my experience, when students get a grade they were not expecting, they do take the time to review it and decide what they want to say to me anyways. So, in my opinion, there is no need to have additional and arbitrary requirements for talking to you!

 

 

Yes. And when you make students meet with you in person to discuss grades, they're usually less likely to "go off" or argue with you anyway. Most people do not like to argue with their teachers in person. I did have one guy who went off on me a long, long time ago when I first started teaching, and it was after 24 hours had already passed. (He accused me, among other things, of keeping him out of medical school--apparently the B- he got on a paper had a chilling effect on his potential to make it in the medical field.)

 

But by and large students tend to get more upset over email where they feel more empowered to say things that they wouldn't otherwise. That's why I remind my students constantly that I don't discuss grades over email (and I use FERPA as my excuse here).

Edited by hashslinger
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