Thursday, April 4, 2013

Grade Grubbing, Blubbering Grace

Grace----you are so cute, really.  The way your little chin quivers when you get upset.  It's kind of charming.  I think you could make a go of it in Hollywood.  Really. 

But your B+ is not such a catastrophe.  Really it is not.  Yes, you followed all the instructions.  You used your sources well. Yes, I did remark in my end comment that you have a nice writing style.  But your essay lacked depth.  Utterly.  You barely skimmed the surface of the topic, and discussed it in a childlike way.  Also, you made a mistake----your essay contained a factual error.  And it was sort of important.  I did not take more off for that because you discussed that portion of your topic well in spite of that error.  But still....

I understand, really I do, that you consider yourself an A student.  You are a traditional student; you are planning to transfer to a real school.  I know all that. You need A's because you think this school is such a piece of crap that anything less than an A here will get you barred from even the State U down the road.

You are a fanatic about your grades.  Yes, I get that too.

I just wish you were more of a fanatic about your actual performance.  If you were, then maybe you would have sent me in a draft of your essay.  I guarantee you that you would have been able to correct that error and that I would have pointed you in a "deeper" direction if you would have let me look at your work before you handed it in.   

Nope.  I don't do rewrites.  You had your chance.


  1. They pull that shit on me, I have the Tokarev to their face, gangsta-style.

  2. I have a standard line on this sort of thing: "This isn't high school. Following all the instructions does not guarantee you an A. This is where we determine whether you are a mediocre intellect, a mere cog in the system, or someone with potential. Right now, you're Slightly Above Cog."

  3. The sad thing is that, even if you'd had a chance to push her toward more depth, it might not have helped, because she's too anxious to take chances. I understand the anxiety -- it's a tough world/economy out there, and students aren't entirely wrong when they feel they don't have the luxury of taking chances that might lead to (temporary) failure as well as ultimate growth -- but it does hold them back.

  4. I agree with Contingent Cassandra about the power of anxiety holding students back from taking chances. Most of the anxious students wind up never achieving their intellectual potential because they are too afraid of "getting a bad grade" to gamble on their own reading or ideas. I have, however, had a success story. Anxious Annie began by failing to read my comments, or reading them incompletely, and barraging me with panicked demands for better grades. Annie could not, however, graduate without taking more of my courses, and at the beginning of the second course I began directing her to other students' submissions, as I had everyone post their papers on Blackboard. After two days I got a chastened email; before the second paper was due Anxious Annie had admitted her anxiety to me and most importantly to herself, and by the third paper had worked with me AND the writing lab counselors to generate anxiety reducing writing strategies. Her final paper was, in fact, A material, and she is doing well in her final required course with another professor. I am very proud of Annie -- self awareness is hard for anyone, and what Annie did takes bravery, honesty, and hard work. Reading REAL A papers written by other students in the same class does not always produce a reduction in grade grubbing, but on occasion it can definitely help a student like Anxious Annie.