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In grading, professor takes into account submission time, performance compared to other students, and visibility of posters. Is it fair?

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( 4 months ago )

I came across this site trying to see if the way my professor has graded certain assignments is fair, and if it's grounds to complain to someone higher up at my college (I'm not sure who I would go to - maybe the dean?). But any way, I have this professor who's been grading some assignments in what I, and other students in the class, realize is quite unfair. So, for example, we had to post a discussion post assignment online, along with responding to our classmates posts. When it was graded, I received a 17 out of 20 total points. Upon looking at the rubric, there was section for "initiative" - if you were one of the first 10 students to submit the assignment, you received the full 2 points. I submitted my assignment pretty close to the due, but, keep in mind, it was turned in completely on time! I know professors reserve the right to grade how they see is best, but come on... If the assignment is turned in on time, how can the professor be allowed to take points off for not doing it early?? Professors/teachers - does this seem like a fair and legitimate way to grade students? Should I look into reporting this to someone higher up at the university?

Here are some other examples that I believe are not fair to students. She often said how she grades off the "best" students work. Like for written assignments, she would say that she had to look at all of them, decide whoever's assignment was best, and then grade everyone thereafter based on that student's work. Is it just me or is that crazy? Should I not be graded based off my own abilities, how I'm understanding the material/completing the work based off common expectations, and whether the work sufficiently meets common standards (like a rubric). My professor just made everything a huge competition which is very frustrating as even though I was putting in the effort and time, I knew it wouldn't matter because there are other students in the class who are smarter, may have more time to put in, and have a different educational background (like they may have taken classes that I haven't that aid with this course). In addition, we had a project that was presented (a case study poster) where other students and some professors were invited to come in and see them. She had observers put stickers on their "favorite" poster and those who received the most stickers received extra credit. However, the people who came in didn't have to go look at every poster. So, many came into the room, looked at the first few posters that were set up right when you walk in, put stickers on those, and then left. Posters on the other side of the room didn't have an equal opportunity to be seen, because everyone who came in wasn't going to look at 16 posters.

All in all, this is just super frustrating and, if it seems reasonable, I want to send in a complaint.

To clarify, grading based on initiative was never stated in the syllabus. As for the rubric for first assignment I mentioned, we were not give an initial rubric stating this. I came across the rubric used for grading on the online program where grades are posted (it was a link on the grade given to me).

In addition, all of my concerns were addressed in a course evaluation. So I guess that it would be best to leave it as that, as it seems that although some may believe this is not the best way to grade, it is not completely unheard of.



( 4 months ago )

Why not ask your professor what she is trying to achieve with this grading before escalating? There is a clear discrepancy between how you expect to be graded (by common standards) and how your professor is actually doing that.

I understand your frustration, but I would like to add some nuances:

  1. She is rewarding early submissions. She may be doing this to try to teach all of you better time management. It is debatable whether this is the best way of doing that. Given such a system I'd be a bit worried that a not-very-early submission could cause a failing grade.
  2. She is grading off a standard as set by excellent students. In the US, it's very common to grade on a curve which inherently contains a comparison with fellow students. However, the details are typically different.
  3. She is rewarding visibility/popularity. In industry and science, these are also commonly rewarded. One could even go so far as to say that securing a poster position close to the door is part of increasing visibility, although I think that's overly harsh.

All in all, I think your professor has some good ideas but her implementation leaves something to be desired. Also, all of this should be clearly stated in the syllabus. I'd have a conversation with her about this, possibly argue for a higher grade for yourself, but I'd very much consider how much time and effort you want to put into this after that.

what's your interest