Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"But I deserve an A!"

The following is a conversation I had with a student from one of my summer classes (identifying information removed, of course)

Me: What questions do you have about your grade?

Student: I was just surprised when I saw my final grade. Could you explain why I got this grade on assignment 2?

(I explain why she got a C).

Student: Oh, okay. Well, I was just really surprised by my grade. I thought I was going to get an A.

Me (trying not to look at her like she has three heads): Out of the five grades in the class, one was an A, three were B's and one was a C. How did you expect to get an A?

Student: Well, looking at the grading scale I thought I would. I really think I deserve an A!! I tried really hard!!

Me: I appreciate that you tried hard, but as stated in our syllabus, "trying hard" is not a legitimate excuse to raise a grade. Besides, you didn't (insert a critical component of several assignment that student did not do). (I actually have a whole paragraph on how grades are earned, not given, etc.)

Student (getting indignant): Well, I work with the athletes in our class and they ALL got A's, they told me so. I think you were showing favoritism to them!

Me (Trying not to jump over my desk and strangle student): I don't show favoritism to anyone. I grade on the content of your work, not on who you or any other student is. You got the grade you did because of (listed errors in assignments that we had just discussed).

Student: Well, I still don't think it's fair. I deserve an A.

Me: Whether you think its fair or not, this is the grade that you earned, its the grade that has been submitted for you and its the grade that stands. I haven't heard anything in our conversation to convince me that it needs to be changed. Any questions?

Student: No. (Stuffs graded assignments into bag, walks off in a huff, slams my office door).

I didn't know what to be more pissed about, the fact that she used the "I tried really hard" card or that she accused me of giving preferential treatment to athletes. I make sure that I assess all of my students equally (well, as much as humanly possible) because I refuse to be one of those profs who lets athletes slide. Several football players (and other athletes) have failed my classes because they didn't show up and/or didn't do the work (or did it poorly). I didn't cut them any slack and I stood behind those grades when pestered by their coaches. The fact that she would baselessly accuse me of favoritism nearly made blood shoot out of my eyes. Never mind that half the athletes in the class got Cs or below (which I didn't tell her, for privacy reasons of course) so someone wasn't telling the truth. And the fall term hasn't even started yet (Although I did get an email from a student asking if using an older version of one of the texts is "exceptable")


  1. don't you WANT them to try really hard? and then you're not going to REWARD them for effort? shameful.

  2. This is exactly what I think has changed the most since I've been teaching, this notion that their "effort," which is always limited, should be rewarded with good grades. Does it come from middle school and high school, is it just the entire culture?

  3. Back in the eighties, when I was a student, "A for effort" was a joke which meant that you failed.

  4. I would have said "If you can't figure this out, take Dr. X's classs in critical thinking."

  5. I tried real hard, but I couldn't come up with a great comment. Do I get an A in commenting?

    Mathsquatch out.

  6. I read through the post and even commented. I get an A, right?

    *eyeroll* My department chair had one woman--an adult, mind you, at least age-wise--who wanted an A rather than the D she had earned because "she had paid her full tuition."

  7. Professors honestly take their role to their brains FORGETTING they are humans. Why would you delight in failing a student. I've always said nerds will be nerds even when grown up and teaching. SMH


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