A student came by my office (for the first time all semester) because he was worried about his final grade. I heard the usual “I really tried hard during the semester” and “I really want to succeed in your class.” Of course, he’s been there infrequently and what he’s turned in has been both piss-poor and off-topic.
“Ay, Memo,” I said. “My problem is that when I fill in the grade sheet at the end of the semester, I only have five choices: A, B, C, D , or F. As much as I’d like to, I can’t give you an E for 'effort' or a G for 'ganas.' The computer won’t let me."
- Señor Snarky from San Diego
Hah, I actually took a language class in Europe in which I was placed (because of familiarity with a related language) in a much higher group than I should have been, and just got stomped. At the end of the course the instructor took me aside, and started with "Now, the bad news is that you have a D. . . the *good* news is that in this country, there's also an "E" grade between that and F, so it's better than it sounds!" So some places do have 'E for effort', I guess.ReplyDelete
I really like G for ganas. You have to say it like Edward James Olmos, though.
Actually, I could give an "E" for effort. We have an "E." It's equivalent to an "F," of course.ReplyDelete
I had a student crying in my office on Tuesday. She came in for "advice" on the 6-8 page critical review that was due the next day. When I started going through the paper and telling her what needed to happen to improve it, she said "But I worked really hard on this!" and started to cry. I handed her a box of Kleenex and said "I understand that, but what's here is a very rough draft that doesn't do X, Y, or Z--I am trying to help you give me what I'm looking for." She said "I'm just going to turn this in," to which I replied, "Then don't be surprised with your grade when you get the paper back."ReplyDelete
I'm SO SICK of "But I worked really hard!" as an excuse.
My best "worked really hard" student this semester was a guy who consistently handed in papers that were 1/5 the required length.ReplyDelete
I got an "I worked really hard email" a few days ago, but the question was the ever-cringe-inducing "how do I get an A?" I am getting a bit better at dealing with this, I think, especially with science students, and was able to list a couple of features of responses to that assignment that had earned an "A" in the past, all predicated by some version of "especially good/strong" (with the not-so-especially version earning a B). We'll see how it comes out; I now have the final versions of that assignment (the most-heavily-weighted one in the class), and am contemplating how to time grading and (the key thing) releasing of grades given the timing of our online evals (currently in progress). Since we're not supposed to release final grades until the evals are over, and this assignment is worth just under 50% of the final grade, I think I'll grade, but wait to release.ReplyDelete
I'm also getting better at telling students like the one described in the post that they're simply too far behind to pass, and will need to register to take the course (which is offered regularly in multiple sections) again. There, it helps that the minimum grade for graduation credit is a C; lower grades can be assigned, but the student will have to re-take the class anyway.
Oops. "predicated" = "prefaced" (not that the robo-reader would care, since both are sophisticated words, but I do). It's been a long semester, I'm middle-aged, and my brain isn't supplying the right word quite as reliably as I'd like these days.Delete
I worked so hard,ReplyDelete
my brain is fried,
won't my grade at least show
how I tried?
One of your own had a cool posting about this "try so hard" in November of 2010.ReplyDelete
I usually ask the "I worked really hard" students how much time they spent on my class and what they spent the hours on. Inevitably, it falls short of the standard expected hours: 6-9 hours a week for each 3 credit course. The "I really worked hard" student's face then either shows a bit of an awakening realization, or, if the blank-sad face persists, I finish drawing the picture: "you did not work that hard and your study-work-planning methods were missing this and that. Don't dwell on the grade, learn from it." Of course, work-study-planning strategy tips and hours to dedicate to the class were all explained at the beginning of the course.ReplyDelete
An annoying corollary is the "I know I didn't try very hard, but..." At least it's honest, but I really don't get why they think they should bother.ReplyDelete
They think if they're honest, you'll see that as a virtue and take pity on them. Maybe they'll get partial credit.Delete