Monday, July 07, 2008


Because the university paid me for five hours of exam marking, and it took 40...
...and because I "irresponsibly" took some of the weekend "off" to attend a conference where I was presenting a paper...
...and because the final grades deadline was three working days after my class's final exam...

...I was faced with a choice of meeting the grades deadline but not getting the fails cross-marked in time, or canceling my trip to the next conference, submitting grades late, and waiting until a colleague had time to cross-mark the (three) fails.

I chose the former.

Two days after the grades deadline, the colleague, in front of a bunch of other senior academics, told me to "just pass" the fails. She admitted she hadn't read the exams yet, but that we really couldn't afford to fail anyone this year, as we need the student numbers. The other academics agreed with her. They all told me to resubmit new (passing) exam marks.

I tried to do so (against my better judgment), but by then the students had been notified of their results. Technically this delay is my fault, since it is against university policy to submit final grades without getting all fails cross-marked.

I now have three emails in my inbox, from the three failing students, wanting to know if there is "anything" they can do to pass (and reminding me, for which they get minus points, of how much they paid to take the class).

And the thing is, there is something they can do. If they were to lodge a grade appeal, which by university policy I should now tell them they can do, the appeal goes to my colleague who told me to pass them. She will (a) be highly pissed off I didn't do so, and (b) pass them.

So do I do that? Or just tell them there was a "mistake" and their passing grades will come out soon as an amendment (and then lodge that amendment)? Or remind them that they failed every piece of internal assessment, AND the exam, AND didn't attend half the classes or do the homework (like, EVER), and ask them if they really think they deserve reconsideration (and hope they don't call my bluff)?



Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

How about this -- you send the colleague who was supposed to read the fails the spread sheet of the failing students grades? You could do three alternatives... one in which their actual exam score is a factor, one in which their exam score is a C and one in which the grade is calculated as if you never gave a final.

Propose the following -- everyone who passes both of the last two gets a C and everyone else keeps their F.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

You could also make them do some work and then given them the pass, since they asked if there's anything they can do. Like, have them do all of the homework they missed and turn it in by a certain deadline. Then if they do that, just pass them and don't give yourself any more grief over it. If they don't, then they probably feel doing the work isn't worth it and will give up on the grade change.

True, the grade will be meaningless, but it might have a bit more meaning than if someone else just changes it over appeal or if you just change it to avoid getting in trouble.

And yeah, the situation sucks.

liz said...

Ugh. I'm sorry.

StyleyGeek said...

ITPF: we already have those options. If a student would have passed the course by exam only, or if they would have passed without the exam, they pass. These students failed EVERYTHING, no matter how you calculated it.

Profgrrl, for students who get between 45 and 50, the university has a policy that you can give them supplementary assessment to see if they can pass that (if so, their mark is exactly a pass), but since this exists for students in that grade range, it seems wrong somehow to offer it as a possibility to just anyone (the students in question have marks below 45).

I think I'm just going to amend the freaking grades to P and tell the students the (approximate) truth - due to the late exam date, we didn't have time to have the exams cross-marked before release of grades. Upon cross-marking, it was decided they should have passed after all.

It's going to sound totally bogus, especially since it directly follows their email pleas for mercy, but I'm just going to do it and pretend it never happened.