Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Final Grading Misery

Minutes between the time I revealed final grades on the LMS and the time not one, but two, grade complaints landed in my inbox: <20

Percentage of those complaints that ignore information about grading prominently available on the syllabus, and recently alluded to in an end-of-the-semester email: 100%

When I will answer said emails: some time tomorrow. I'm going to bed now.

Aargh.  It wasn't a bad term, really.  Most of them did good work; a significant number of them did very good work.  But I am very, very tired of explaining why satisfactory completion of lightly-graded ancillary tasks does not magically turn B work on core assignments (the grades for which they don't, interestingly, question)  into an A in the class.

The syllabus does say that participation will be graded on a curve, with the median at B.  Also, I checked to make sure that enforcing this policy as written wasn't dragging anybody's grade below the level of their major written assignments.  It wasn't.  I could, of course, lower the weight of the ancillary assignments relative to the final grade, which would probably decrease the tendency to put too much hope in them as final-grade-lifters, but then they might not take them seriously.   

Or I could grade every little ancillary task on a formal scale, holding to the "satisfactory=B" line each time.    That might in some ways be clearer, and thus fairer, but it would be time-consuming, and  I'd be answering "why did I lose points on x" emails all semester long.  The idea that a student didn't lose points, (s)he just did work at the B level, rather than somewhere above that, is very, very hard to get across.  Answering the complaint emails at the end of the semester may just be a worthwhile tradeoff for getting to concentrate on more substantive matters during the rest of the term.  Maybe.  I'll sleep on it.

Update, c. 12 hours later: of the six grading complaint/inquiry emails I now have in my inbox, all are from students who earned a B+. Maybe I should just stop awarding B+s?

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