Friday, May 22, 2015

I can't even be a pushover for them because they're so f***ing stupid!

I had a really great kid in my non-majors class wind up with a C+ because he forgot to do the final essay.  I want so badly for him to give me something so I can bump him to the B+ he was on his way to earning. 

I am not allowed to do a grade change for a retroactively granted extension, but if he "accidentally" sent it from his personal e-mail address and I "accidentally" deleted it as spam, he can send it to me "again" from his college e-mail and I can correct the "error" at the registrar's office.

I told him this half a dozen times now but he keeps saying "I don't have any other e-mail address.".  I even deleted that confession.


  1. Integrity...I think that it is called that.

  2. Can't you accept the paper, and then do a grade change with a different excuse?

    I had to do a grade change last semester because I screwed up the formula in one of the cells of my Excel spreadsheet. It was accepted no problem, because they're not going to allow the student to be penalized for a faculty mistake.

    Could you do something like that?

  3. This reminds me of those letters to advice columnists that go, "Carolyn, I have a really great boyfriend. It's just that sometimes he gets angry and throws furniture at me. But the rest of the time he's really great!"
    How does a really great student forget to DO a final assignment? Wombat, why are you compromising your own integrity for this kid? What about the other students in the class who could benefit from this type of wink-wink help?

  4. I have a somewhat similar situation -- decent (not great) student who'd done the work all semester posted something to the final take-home exam turn-in that just wouldn't open for me. I emailed him c. 36 hours before grades were due asking him to re-send via email, heard nothing, filed the (passing but low) final grade he'd earned with the work I had. Just about the time the final grades became visible on the registrar's site, I got an email from him, saying he never checks his school email account, couldn't imagine what had happened, the essay opens just fine on his girlfriend's laptop, etc., etc. I answered that I couldn't make any promises, but to please send me both the essay as an attachment and screenshots of whatever evidence he could come up with that the file does, indeed, bear one of the file extensions I'd asked for when viewed on his/his girlfriend's computer, and that it had existed at/before the time he uploaded it to Bb, and I'd grade it and see if I can convince my chair that this wasn't a case of grading new work after the deadline (which is explicitly verboten), but of working out a tech glitch a bit more slowly than ideal.

    That was Monday (maybe Tuesday; it took me a while to catch up with my inbox). I haven't heard a peep. So either he still isn't checking his school email with any frequency (WTF?), or my mention of possibly being able to figure out when the file was created, even if it has since been saved, uploaded/downloaded, etc., based on file properties, scared him off. But I really didn't have the impression he was lying. After all, if you're trying to buy a few more hours by uploading an unopenable file, wouldn't you then have the file ready to send when the professor inquired, or soon after?

    I expect I'll hear from him again in a week, or a month. By that time, however, I will be feeling much less charitable, my chair will (justifiably) be harder to convince, and I'll have considerably less willingness to try.

    These are probably times to fall back on the old CM standby: don't care more about their educations than they do. That goes double for grades.

  5. A classic case of Stockholm Syndrome, I'm afraid. After spending an entire semester with them, you start to sympathize with them a bit. So when they fuck up like this, it tends to pull on one's heart-strings.

    I'm with Cassandra as always: Don't care more than they do!

  6. WoC, with all due respect, You should let this go. The student screwed up. He sounds like the type who will actually learn from his mistake. That is more valuable than a B+.

  7. I agree that you should let it go. You're not helping the student by giving him a do-over. AND he may well come to expect it. Completing assignments is a student's responsibility. Also many colleges have a policy that it is a student's responsibility to check their email. You gave him a chance. He needs to learn.

  8. I agree that you should let it go. You're not helping the student by giving him a do-over. AND he may well come to expect it. Completing assignments is a student's responsibility. Also many colleges have a policy that it is a student's responsibility to check their email. You gave him a chance. He needs to learn.

  9. I've had similar situations come up, and generally I'm of the attitude that giving these students do-overs doesn't really help them in the long run. But sometimes the circumstances really make me wonder. Let me give you two examples:

    One of my Basic Algebra students passed all of the tests with a B average, had a C average on her homework assignments. Then she just didn't show up for the final, causing her to fail the class. If she had shown up and earned even a 50% on the final, she would have passed. And I'm sure that she could have easily done much better than that. But she didn't show up. She had some medical issues earlier in the semester, so it's been a rough semester, but she has persevered until now. And communication was never an issue in the past. So I just wonder what happened.

    Another Basic Algebra student passed all of the tests with a B average overall (including a C on the final). But he was was terribly lazy with the homework, and that brought him down to a D overall, which isn't passing. If homework wasn't included in the grade, he'd have a B from all of his exam scores. But the homework is included, and so he has to retake the course.

    Now, I recognize that these students need to learn responsibility. But in a community college setting, it's often the math sequence that holds students back the most, delaying graduation (sometimes indefinitely). So when I have students who are academically capable of handling the material in Advanced Algebra next semester, I want to see them move on. Community college students often have complicated lives, with family issues (many live with their parents and/or have children to take care of), job issues (most have part- or full-time jobs), health issues (many of our veteran students have various issues). There are so many hurdles in life that can trip them up, that having them repeat an algebra course that they might not really need could delay their graduation by a semester, and that one semester could be the time where a family emergency pulls them out of school.

    Perhaps EMH is right with the whole Stockholm Syndrome thing. But when math holds people back so much, and a student actually leaves the class having learned the material, I really wonder who it serves to let it hold them back even more, even when it's due to their own irresponsibility. Maybe there are other arenas to let them punish themselves.

  10. The student who got the highest score on the final in one of my classes and got As on two other tests given during the semester will end up with a C+ because he did not turn in a major assignment. I offered this student a chance to turn in the assignment earlier in the semester but at this point, eight or so weeks after the due date, the possibility to turn it in no longer exists. This student thought about dropping the class earlier in the semester so I think he's simply interested in passing and racking up the credit rather than getting a good grade; that's his choice and I have to respect it.
    I appreciate your effort to help your students and I will similarly extend myself to students who I think deserve a little extra consideration, but my generosity generally ends a few weeks before the semester ends. At this time in the semester I warn students that if they are not passing they need to come see me to talk about what they can do to get their grades up, because there are no "last minute saves" (i.e. end-of-semester extra credit opportunities) in my course. Happily this semester I did have a few students who moved their grade up by turning in missed assignments; also, at least so far, I have received no grade-grubbing emails asking for extra consideration for "hard work" or "really trying hard" or other such nonsense.

  11. I like the Stockholm Syndrome hypothesis.

    I think if you do anything above assigning the grade as earned, you run the risk of converting this student into a snowflake who believes special consideration is his birthright. Stand firm; you have our support.

    He may yet reveal a legitimate reason that he was incommunicado for the final assignment, which of course may change everything. Or not.