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Après moi, le déluge
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Discussion Starter #1
I thought I'd take my question right to the students.

Since I'm a Ph.D. student, I'm also a teaching assistant, which means for my department at school (History) that I don't teach the class, but basically assist the professor by grading, meeting with the students in the class, etc.

So last quarter I TA'ed for a 100-level European Civ class. I have a student coming to talk to me and the professor tomorrow, because he says he was getting an A going into the final and got a B+ in the class.

The prof basically put the decision of whether or not to change his grade on my hands and gave me back the final to judge whether or not to change it.

So I don't know whether I should change it or not.

The problem is that the guy didn't answer the essay question in the final. For example, instead of analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of feudalism, he just gave a memory dump - "Feudalism was..."

There were two essays and he had a ton of information - almost filling up a whole blue book on each question, but I graded him more harshly, because he didn't frame the info around the question. Plus, he had some pretty out there mistakes, like saying that Europeans came from Asia over a landbridge, but these were the only real major problems. He *did* show that he knew the material we'd covered in class - minus some wacky mistakes and not answering the question in the essay.

What would you want a teacher to do for you, if this was the case - or if this was a friend who wasn't happy about his grade, but you were happy with yours, because you didn't make those mistakes. (Meaning, if you'd done the work and gotten a good grade, would you want me to raise the grade of someone else who didn't do the work as well and put him on the same level as you.)

On the first essay, I gave him 16/20 or 80%. On the second, I gave him 15/20 or 75%.

Please let me know what you think, since I have to meet with this guy tomorrow and am a bit nervous. Thank you. :)

Have a nice day,
Kelly :)
 

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If it was a friend, I'd probably side with him just because I wouldn't be a neutral party, so that really isn't a fair way to look at it :lol

But judging by what you said, the not answering of the question, and the blatant factual errors, I'd say your grade was pretty accurate. If something like that were the determining factor if he passes or fails, then, I think it would be a nice gesture to show a little mercy and give him the higher grade, but when the difference is between an A and a B and it won't make a terribly huge difference outside of principle, I think your decision was right.

From the language and adjectives you used, it seems that you pretty much know what you should do, you're just looking for validation. For what it's worth, I agree with ya.
 

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I don't think it matters what kind of grade I'd want for my friend. Give him the grade he deserved, good or ill. Frankly, if he didn't even answer the question (analyzing the weaknesses and strengths of feudalism) I'm surprised he pulled even a 75.

You're not the bad guy here. Some people just whine and demand grades they didn't earn. Were I in your place, I'd only change a grade if *I* made a mistake, be it in adding up the points or being wrong myself on a fact I dinged him for.

At the meeting, I'd just explain to him where he went wrong and why his paper doesn't warrant a higher grade than that given. You have an ethical duty to grade everybody the same way.
 

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Après moi, le déluge
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Discussion Starter #4
kikachuck said:
From the language and adjectives you used, it seems that you pretty much know what you should do, you're just looking for validation. For what it's worth, I agree with ya.
You're right. I think I'm just reading too much into this because my prof's review on Rate My Professors said, "His TA's suck."

Argo said:
Frankly, if he didn't even answer the question (analyzing the weaknesses and strengths of feudalism) I'm surprised he pulled even a 75.
Yeah, but he had a TON of information about it, which is why I gave him that grade. He knows what he's supposed know from the class, but he didn't frame it within the question. I guess that's what I was wondering. How important is it to frame it within the question if he showed that he knew what it was....

Argo said:
Were I in your place, I'd only change a grade if *I* made a mistake, be it in adding up the points or being wrong myself on a fact I dinged him for.
That's a good way of looking at it. I just don't want to grade him harshly because he might not know how to write an essay or maybe because essay writing isn't his strength....

Thanks! :)

Have a nice day,
Kelly :)
 

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He's missing the point.

The whole point of university is to use the information you have memorized, draw your own conclusions, and think critically.

Getting an "A" on an exam should NOT entail vomitting back massive amounts of facts and/or lecture material. If he didn't answer the question, he didn't answer the question. Who cares if he memorized the entire text or his class notes? Don't let him bully you into giving him the grade he does not deserve. You may be a T.A. but YOU ARE STILL THE INSTRUCTOR.

Just explain to him as cogently as you explained to us why he did not get the "A".

:hug
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks, everyone.

I was just unsure, because it's been a long time since I took a 100-level survey intro course. I was afraid that I was holding them to too high of an expectation.

It's good to hear it from people who've been there, because at least I know I wasn't imagining things when I thought there may have been higher expectations for the students in the class.

It's hard to judge when you work for a professor and don't set the level of difficulty yourself.

Thanks. :)

Have a nice day,
Kelly :)
 

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Hypatia said:
It's good to hear it from people who've been there, because at least I know I wasn't imagining things when I thought there may have been higher expectations for the students in the class.
These guys are in college. I don't think it's expecting much to expect them to read and answer the question that's asked. Sounds like what was expected of him was clear enough.

And I wouldn't bother myself about what the kids say on Rate My Professor. The people who take vengeance on there for bad grades are a plague. I've read reviews there that didn't come close to matching my own perception of teachers I've took.
 
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