Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"As If Grading Weren't Arbitrary Enough" - Corporations Students to Have Their Exams Graded By Committee

UPDATE: Seems like prof got the exams graded after all . . .hooray(!)

It didn't take long for several outraged tipsters to send us this, from Dean Mahoney. As many of you who read ANG might be aware, a Corporations professor (don't name him here, ty) didn't get his Corporations grades in from last semester. Turns out said prof had a legitimate reason for the delay. However, last week, the Dean sent out an email that grades would be up this week. But today all the students in the class received this:

Dear Corporations students:

I write to follow up on my e-mail from last week. I was unfortunately too optimistic in my assessment of Professor [Redacted]’s ability to complete grading his exams, for which I apologize.

In order to resolve the situation as promptly as possible, a group of other Corporations teachers (including yours truly) has agreed to grade the exams ourselves. I recognize that this raises a risk of some inconsistency in grading because there will be multiple graders. We will have a conversation among ourselves about what we are looking for in the answers and I will personally take a look at all of the exams to try to assure consistency. I will submit final grades no later than Monday, March 30.

I am sorry that we have gotten to this point and I recognize the solution is imperfect. It is the best I am able to come up with under the circumstances. I hope you will agree with my assessment that the top priority is to have grades submitted in the next few days.

Thank you for your understanding.

Here's what one tipster said:
This is total horses**t and I can’t believe a dean would sign off on it, let alone propose it and follow through. We took this class with the understanding that we would be hearing [redacted]’s view, taking [redacted]’s exam, and getting [redacted]’s grades. Now with this grading by committee idea, it’s not just a matter of inconsistency among graders, but we might as well have taken a different professor’s exam. There is no way that this is the best possible solution under the circumstances, as the Dean suggests. The top priority is not to get a grade in the next few days, but to get the right grade. The fact that we can’t even opt out of this cockamamie plan is just that much worse.

Would anyone prefer that the class just be graded pass/fail? And what of people who needed these grades a month (or two) ago, for job searching and related prosects? Also, did the administration take student suggestions - particularly from those students who are in the class - about how to remedy the situation?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I agree with the tipster, I would prefer the class be graded pass/fail at this point.

Anonymous said...

As a student in this Corporations class, I have to agree that this is NOT a good solution. I've taken two classes with this professor, and he has a very particular view of the law. I imagine it's probably different from Dean Mahoney's. I, therefore, tailored my exam to this particular professor's beliefs, and not to Dean Mahoney's.

I don't think pass/fail is better, because I think that it is unfair to those students who would have done really well on the exam. But I felt pretty solid about a B+, had the professor graded my exam, and I am going to be extremely unhappy if I get a different grade because someone else is grading it.

I don't mind waiting longer to receive my grade. I just want the grade that the professor would have given me.

Anonymous said...

To follow up from my previous comment at 5:49, to my knowledge, the administration did not ask for student feedback about how to handle the situation.

Anonymous said...

5:49 -

"I don't think pass/fail is better, because I think that it is unfair to those students who would have done really well on the exam."

I'd argue pass/fail would be fairer to those students b/c it's unlikely given the professor's "very particular view of the law" that an A in his mind would be an A in another professor's mind.

Anonymous said...

Pass/fail might be more fair than grading by committee, but certainly not as fair as having the professor actually grade the exam he wrote.

As a student in this class, the difference between this coming Monday and a month from now is meaningless. It's already two months late, just keep it fair.

Anonymous said...

5:56, pass/fail might be universally more fair (across every single Corporations class and every single professor), given this professor's view of things. But within the particular class, I don't think it's fair at all to those students who did well.

Being able to choose professors is one of the effects of being able to choose your own classes. People who chose this professor and who would have gotten an A from him shouldn't be penalized by getting a pass. (Trust me, I am definitely not one of those people.)

-5:49

Anonymous said...

I hope Dan or Roland will get involved with this. It's already a ridiculous situation and not involving students more in the discussion of how to proceed just takes the cake. How is this prof still teaching this semester if he can't get the grades in??!!

Anonymous said...

Didn't take the class. Sounds like a rock and a hard place. Pass/fail doesn't seem fair, even if a note is affixed to each transcript to explain why. I hope that the professor is healthy and well. Corps generates a lot of exams to read; perhaps he could just grade a set of 10 or so, w/ comments, so that the committee could understand what he was looking for on his exam. There is no perfect solution here, of course, but it seems like this would make it more likely that people could receive the "right" grade.

Anonymous said...

I think pass/fail is clearly the best option. People are saying it's not fair to the people who did "really well," but what does that mean? It most likely means who would have done best if the professor had graded them. But, we'll never know that. I don't think there's any reason that the committee will get closer to an "accurate" grade than just a pass will. That's because giving a pass is essentially giving you your current GPA as your exam grade (although it won't add any weight to your GPA). If you had to choose an expected value of someone's grade on any given exam, I would suggest their GPA, which is after all a weighted average of their performance on past exams (at least for most students and most classes).

Anonymous said...

I say they should use an A- curve.

Anonymous said...

the professor is clearly having health issues and people are still complaining about not having their grades. law students are such tools. they should give you all B's for being a bunch of little Bitches

Anonymous said...

there is something severely wrong this time around. he has never had grades in this late. hope this gets resolved fairly

Anonymous said...

I don't think people are complaining about WHEN they are getting their grades, and given the professor's illness, that makes sense. These complaints are about the way in which those grades are going to be determined, which nearly everyone in the class finds patently unfair.

Anonymous said...

10:15, your comment is spot on. I really hope that whatever is wrong gets solved, and I hope that the professor gets well as soon as possible.

I just don't like the decision that has been made over how to handle this.

Chris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yeah, the "prof" got them graded.

Anonymous said...

Kudos on 9:26. Why send out an email if he was going to get them all graded that weekend? This couldn't be a better time to investigate the grading method of throwing papers down the stairs.

Anonymous said...
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