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Syllabus change with no warning nor discussion with students worsened grade

Course Queries Syllabus Queries
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Priyanka Chadda


( 5 months ago )

In one of my courses, our syllabus outlined the course material and its contribution to our total grade. Daily homework constituted 10% of the grade, with other major group assignments constituting the majority of the rest.

Recently, due to time constraints, one of the major assignments was dropped; this resulted in the homework being worth 20% of our grade, rather than 10%. Unfortunately, this had a negative impact on my grade, given that my homework performance has been worse than on projects and other major assignments.

The change was sudden, and there was no discussion of the change with us (the students). As I understand the concept of the syllabus, it is supposed to be a contract between instructors and students, an agreement made about how the course material is outlined and how students will be assessed. We discussed the syllabus on the first day of class and agreed on the "terms and conditions". Thus this seems a bit unfair, as it is the last week of classes before finals and the change suddenly worsened my grade.

Should I bring this up with the professor? And if so, what should I say?

Karlie Kloss


( 5 months ago )

I would let the professor know that you had been deliberately putting more effort into larger assignments with the understanding that the coursework was worth 10%, and point out the pattern in your marks as evidence of this. You could ask that the 10% of project marks be distributed over the other project marks rather than the coursework marks. Your professor may be willing to do that as an exception for students that complain.

But I wouldn't go in angry and suggest that a contract has been violated. There should be a mutual goal between the students and the professor to do the best they can at both education and marking / ranking. Probably a lot of students were happy to get more credit for work they'd already done. Spending a lot of time on something that presumably doesn't affect your GPA that much may not be that good of a strategy, or that professional of behaviour.

(How much better were your assignments than your homework? And then this difference is only on 10% of your mark for one course?)

Of course, if you are near a borderline and this really will make a big difference to you, go talk to your professor honestly about this problem and how the decision disadvantaged you. Do this during their office hours.

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