Tales From The Trenches

Seriously, I have got to stop being surprised by students.  There is no end to the stupidity they can come up with.  Yesterday I posted final grades for the semester in my abnormal psych class (one of the classes I teach at the “big, real, full, 4 year university”).  I have since wasted at least 2 hours dealing with one of my students.  She got a D in my class and could not understand how she got a D.  So I explain very matter of factly that the total possible points in the class is 750 and she earned 507.  That’s 68%, which is a D on any standard 10 point grading scale.  This should have been the end of it, but it wasn’t.

In a series of four phone calls, she went on and on about how she had made such good grades on her quizzes and she knew two other students who had made worse grades than she did, but they got higher grades than she did.  So I dutifully pull out my nice, color-coded spreadsheet.  “Yes,” I tell her, “you did well on the quizzes, but you failed the Unit 1, Unit 3, and Final exams.”

“Well these other people made lower grades than I did and they ended up with a B and  a C and I just don’t see how that’s fair.”

:prays for patience:  “I can’t discuss the grades of other students with you, and I don’t know what you think you saw, but you earned a D.  They earned whatever they earned.  My entire course is made up of straight, objective measures.  This is simple math.  Total points earned, divided by total possible points, times 100.”

“But I saw their grades and they made less than I did!”

Repeat, “I can’t discuss other students grades with you…you earned a D.”

She continued to argue, so I finally asked her who she was referring to.  I went to look at their grades and they did, indeed, make considerably higher grades on their unit tests and finals than this student did.  I told her as much.

“They did not.  I saw their grades! They were on a different grading scale than I was!”

:patience is wearing pretty thin:  “I don’t know what you saw, but they earned their grades, and you earned yours.  That was a D.  The only people who were on a different grading scale were those 9 students who had A’s before the final and were therefore exempt.  They were based on a 600 point scale.  Anyone who took the final was on a 750 point scale to account for the 150 points the final was worth. ”

“But I earned more than half the possible points. That should be at least a B!”

:blinks:  “In what world?  Anything less than 60% is failing.”

“What are you talking about?”

So I explain to her the standard ten point grading scale, which she clearly doesn’t understand, as she still thinks she earned a B.  “The grading scale for everyone should be 600 points.  The entire purpose of a final is to give those who don’t have an A a chance to bring up their grade.”


“No, the point of the final is for you to show mastery of the material, which you didn’t.  Those students who had A averages before the final exam had already shown mastery.  Exemption is merely an incentive for students to do well earlier in the semester so they don’t have to take the final.”

She continued to argue with me, apparently under the impression that the quizzes counted for more than the unit tests or final exam (because there were more of them, maybe?), even though the sum total points for the quizzes were 300 as opposed to the 450 for the unit tests and final.

She’s working on setting up an appointment with the dean.  I already have a nice, color-coded copy of my spreadsheet printed out for him.

5 thoughts on “Tales From The Trenches

  1. And this is exactly why I quit teaching (I was a TA for almost 4 years, and lecturer of my own classes the final year). The constant arguments, pleas, and excuses just got to me. I had students calling me at home, at all hours of the day and night (when I had my OWN classes to take). I even ended up going to court in the capitol (student was suing the state, not me, LOL) and had to provide evidence of attendance. Thank God I’d kept my attendance roll carefully that year….

    1. In three years of teaching, I’ve NEVER had a student do this before. There have been a few who misunderstood the grading scale, but once it was explained to them ONCE, that was the end of it. I’m still just shaking my head at this girl’s idiocy.

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