Friday, May 24, 2013

Note to Self and Others - Avoid Good Deeds Such As This One.

 Impossibly Illiterate Iris sent an e-mail to the Dean this morning.  Apparently, her prof had not given her enough time to hand in her last three assignments, and so Iris should be allowed to hand them all in now, a week after grades were due.

Except, she had been given PLENTY of time to hand in those assignments!!!  They were due up to a month ago, and Illiterate Iris just handed in a blank document each time.  Each time, she claimed in seemingly tearful, impossibility illiterate e-mails that she had no idea how this could have happened, and could the prof try another computer or something?  Because II Iris could read the documents on HER computer.

The professor on the case, kindly Professor Kate, decided to give this doofus one last chance the night before grades were due, and sent Iris an e-mail saying no, she had tried on every possible computer and even on her Ipod, and taken the documents to the lab and had the "experts" there try to open them as well, and they could all see nothing there but a blank document.  But if Iris would send her the assignments before 10am the next day (grades were due that day at noon), she would be so Kindly as to grade and accept them.  Auuugh.  Why did she do that?  Because our incredibly stooopid Academic Dean now seems to see it as if Kindly Professor Kate gave Iris ONE day to do all three assignments.  Which is what Iris is now claiming, and producing the e-mails to "prove" it.

So now I am going to try to put together ALL the e-mails, the ones which include those which prove Iris is a lying idiot, in a way that is clear enough and easy enough to understand even for an Academic Dean.  Kindly Professor Kate forwarded the e-mail chain to both me and the Dean, but the Dean needs me to make the whole situation more clear, as it seems to him that the student needs another chance.   In the meantime, Kindly Professor Kate has, finally, received the documents, each one impossibly illiterate.  But she does not want to grade them now.  And who could blame her?

I am in for hours of work if I want to make this right.  Augh!!!!


  1. Fight the good fight, Bella. Don't give in.

    I'm happy to help students succeed, and I'm also happy, when circumstances warrant, to cut students a break if they've run into trouble. But one thing I will not do is cave into students like this, who use alleged failures in the technology to try to put one over on me, and/or who run to the Dean when their whining doesn't get them what they want.

    In a case like this, I'd be quite happy to devote all the time necessary to ensuring that Iris does not get what she wants out of this situation.

    1. Augh, yes. I gathered together the assignment sheets, the syllabus, the e-mails, the reports from Blackboard. I put them together with circles and arrows and color coordinated legends and everything and sent it all in to the Dean. And I did not hear anything back yet, which is a good sign. It means he can't easily find a way to make me do what he wants me to do.

      I still wish Kindly Kate would not have done that. If any CMer is tempted to send such an offer the night before grades are due, I advise them to please take another shot and watch porn instead. But I don't think the typical CMer would do this anyway. Kindly Kate is a very sweet woman who probably would not be attracted to the angst and wit of CM. We are kind, but we have an edge to us, don't we.....

  2. Well, the professor did kind of dig her own grave. But the student should get whatever is earned based on the professor's leniency. She should have to grade that shit (it shouldn't take much time, given that it was done in one day) based on her willingness to accept it. And the grade will stand as is.

  3. Having been in a similar situation to Kindly Kate after a student claimed my refusal to grade late work was unfair, I appreciate your desire to back her up, Bella. On behalf of all disempowered instructors being subjected to the whims of tools who haven't set foot in a classroom in (potentially) decades -- Thank you.

    In my case, I was forced by one member of a grade appeal committee to grade the work right in front of him. In retrospect, I found a solution that I offer to you and Kate:

    Make the forced grade a ZERO. Seriously, if Big Daddy Dean decides to force the issue, Kindly Kate seems well within her guidelines to give that steaming pile the zero it appears to have earned, especially if it's the illiterate mess we're all imagining. Problem solved.

  4. Okay, I'll confess. I issued a similarly ill-timed "last chance" email this semester, and am waiting for the possible consequences to hit the fan (which in this case really aren't so bad; if I'm told to grade a single very-late-sent file, I will, and the student's grade will shift from the dreaded C- which requires a retake of the class for graduation to a C or above -- how far above I'm not sure, since I haven't graded the late assignment, only glanced at it to verify that it's basically satisfactory). The email with the missing file finally arrived *after* I had posted the grade to the registrar's system (in fact, I'm pretty sure that the problem is that the student was not checking hir university email regularly -- this had been a problem throughout the semester, in an online class I might add -- so the failing grade popping up on hir transcript was the first sign of trouble as far as ze was concerned, even though I'd sent an earlier "I need this now" email). The excuse was that the student "was sure" ze had posted said file to the LMS. I replied with a quotation from the syllabus about students' responsibility not only to upload assignment files, but also to double-check that they are there, and are the correct file (this might have helped a bit with Iris, but only so much, since she was claiming the file existed; at that point, I think I would have asked for an alternative file format -- e.g. PDF --, or, failing that, a cut-and-paste into email -- *she* can open the file, right?). So far the student has been silent, but, since ze is a somewhat clueless supposedly-graduating senior, I expect it may take a month or two for ze to realize that, although ze marched across a stage last week, the diploma is *not* in the mail.

    Honestly, I won't be upset if I'm told to accept the work, since I played some part in creating the situation (I really, really, shouldn't have sent that last "get it here in 2 hours and I'll accept it" email, which of course is the one to which the student finally replied; in my defense, ze had claimed problems with *sending* email earlier in the term, so I had reason to suspect that there might have been an unreceived message somewhere in the mix). But I have made a resolution not to send such emails in the future. The temptation to do so is, of course, one of the downsides of being able to hand in grades online, which I otherwise love; the ability to leave one grade unfiled while satisfying the gradelust of the rest of the pack (er, class) creates a "one more chance" temptation that those of us with kindly inclinations (and/or a very strong desire not to have the whining and complaining to chairs, deans, etc. spin out for weeks -- my stronger motivation, I'll admit) need to resist.

  5. You people are why most of my students think I'm an asshole.

  6. I just don't accept anything over email. As a former IT guy, I used to respond to "some kind of problem with my email" with specific and detailed questions, which always threw the lying little shits, but eventually I realized I was doing my old job as well as my new one, and that sucked. So I said, "hardcopy only, motherfuckers." I also explain to them why - their lying classmates have ruined it for them. Fortunately, no one is making me use the LMS for assignments (although I do have to use it for grades)... but I have heard tales of woe from others on this point. They have my sympathies.

  7. I do a version of that, Wylodmayer. I do accept the e-mail, but I tell them any problems are squarely on them. If I can't read it, they get a zero. End of story.

    It has actually worked fairly well. I think over the last few years I have gotten the rep of being completely unmoving. And it helps. If I move just a little from my initial position, it just leads to endless negotiations.

  8. This is why I ask for an electronic copy AND a paper copy. It is hard to imagine that there will be an issue with BOTH of them. Also I can read the hard copy sitting comfortably in a chair and then mark up the e-copy using comment features and email it back to them.