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Author Topic: Talking to Professors About Grades  (Read 3417 times)

smittypits

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Talking to Professors About Grades
« on: June 30, 2008, 12:41:29 PM »
Has anyone found this process actually worthwhile? As a law student, I'm sure most people here can attest to how grades can seem totally misrepresentative of how well you know the material and how well you can apply it (in other words, the professor just wanted to finish grading 150 exams), but that's belly-aching that I've done too much of lately, and I'll steer clear. My question is, is it even worth it to approach professors about your exam? I know some people say it's worth looking over your tests to see where you can do better, to talk to professors and work on improving your writing, bla bla. Seems like a load of crap to me to be honest. But has anyone actually had a grade changed? I have a number of solid points to bring up for my property exam, but law school seems to be so dedicated to the theory of professor infallability, and it makes me wonder if it's even worth my time to argue these points to my professor. She is very friendly and open to students, but I feel like she'll just find my arguments a personal attack on her grading, and dig her feet in and not budge. Thoughts?

Imactuallya2Lnow

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2008, 01:13:52 PM »
Well wouldn't changing people's grades destroy the curve? I guess I just assumed professors wouldn't change grades even if they thought you might have a good argument because then the curve would be messed up.

StevePirates

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2008, 02:04:31 PM »
Changing a grade would alter the curve, but most curves have ranges so it wouldn't destroy it, unless they'd already maxed the curve.  Most professors shoot for the middle of the curve as far as I can tell, so raising one grade wouldn't kill it.

It would destroy the rankings though.

Many schools have strict policies against re-grading.  Sometimes efficiency and certainty trump absolute fairness (Con Law anyone?).  As for your prof. digging in her heels, I think it depends on how you approach it.  Stating that you feel she missed giving you points when you said something is probably a loser.  Asking her what you could have said here that would have gotten points might show her that you did in fact say what she wanted you to.  Ot, she'll explain why you didn't get points.

As for the "where to improve" argument.  If you'll have that professor again, then it's definitely worthwhile.  If you won't, then unless all your grades were low, I don't know if it really is. 

Clara Bear

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2008, 01:45:58 PM »
I probably wouldn't go in and argue about the grade.  However, if you're going to have her again, you should definitely go talk to her.  I went to talk to my contracts prof after the first semester's grades were out, and he showed me exactly what I could have done to get more points. I got top paper in that class second semester, so I'd say it helped.

NoUsername

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2008, 01:57:59 PM »
I had plenty of grades changed in college, including one final grade.  In law school it isn't going to happen, IMO.

As far as I can tell, law profs grade tests one of two ways:
1. they have a precise matrix listing each issue they wanted you to spot, each law they wanted you to recite, and they simply tally these up for each exam.
2. they throw the stack of papers down the steps and that is the grade distribution.

With respect to the first, you aren't going to be able to change your grade because it is so precise and objective.  You can't really argue that one issue should have been worth points and another shouldn't, becuase the professor wrote the test with what they wanted in mind.

With respect to the second, it isn't even worth your time and frustration.  My first semester civ pro grade was the lowest final grade I have ever gotten.  It took the professor two months to grade the exams, meaning I was already about a month into the second semester when I got my grade.  The professor had left the school and taken the tests with her.  It took another month of me asking weekly to be able to look at my exam before I was able to see it.  When I finally got it, there wasn't a single mark on it.  It was literally just a print up of what I had written.  How do you challenge that?

smittypits

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2008, 04:03:10 PM »
Well here is the issue I have with one of my professors...in Legal Writing, our grades were based on 2 AND ONLY 2 assignments...2 lengthy papers we do with a partner. I got significantly higher scores than my partner did (we were graded on our separate portions), and, no exaggeration, IDENTICAL marks on the assignments as a friend of mine (I saw his papers). The marks were very specific, not "A" or "B", but a grading system that is basically as precise as 1-100. Yet miraculously, I got a lower grade than her, and the same grade as my partner, in the class. I wrote an email to my professor and said, "I would never ordinarily do this, but there seems to be a fairly noticeable anamoly here." I then described to her what I just mentioned above, and asked if she could simply compare my grades against students with identical marks, and see what their grades in the class were. She then said, quite bluntly, (as if I even asked her to do this), "I will not discuss other student's grades with you". All I did was ask her to again look at my assignment grades, I wasn't disputing any assignments grades, or arguing with her, I simply asked her to do something simple, but her notion of her own infallibility and "finalness" trumped any sense of "justice" for lack of a better word. I don't want to sound dramatic, but if that isn't objectively unreasonable, I dont' know what is.

StevePirates

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2008, 04:05:22 PM »
Well, if it seems like a computational error, then that is something that is usually changeable.  Your student handbook should have the procedure for correcting a computational error in grading.

Do you guys have a Faculty Support office?  or Student Services that you can go talk to about this issue?

RickLax.com

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2008, 06:36:44 PM »
Has anyone found this process actually worthwhile? As a law student, I'm sure most people here can attest to how grades can seem totally misrepresentative of how well you know the material and how well you can apply it (in other words, the professor just wanted to finish grading 150 exams), but that's belly-aching that I've done too much of lately, and I'll steer clear. My question is, is it even worth it to approach professors about your exam? I know some people say it's worth looking over your tests to see where you can do better, to talk to professors and work on improving your writing, bla bla. Seems like a load of crap to me to be honest. But has anyone actually had a grade changed? I have a number of solid points to bring up for my property exam, but law school seems to be so dedicated to the theory of professor infallability, and it makes me wonder if it's even worth my time to argue these points to my professor. She is very friendly and open to students, but I feel like she'll just find my arguments a personal attack on her grading, and dig her feet in and not budge. Thoughts?

Never heard of anybody ever having a grade changed. But if you're going to have the prof again, then do it.  1) you might actually learn what they're after on an exam.  2) the next time around, they'll be less likely to give you a bad grade 'cause it'd be like them acknowledging that they were unable to help you out when you came to them for help.  it'd be like them giving a bad grade to themselves.

-Rick @ http://ricklax.com

ouffha

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Re: Talking to Professors About Grades
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2008, 07:01:04 AM »
Has anyone found this process actually worthwhile? As a law student, I'm sure most people here can attest to how grades can seem totally misrepresentative of how well you know the material and how well you can apply it (in other words, the professor just wanted to finish grading 150 exams), but that's belly-aching that I've done too much of lately, and I'll steer clear. My question is, is it even worth it to approach professors about your exam? I know some people say it's worth looking over your tests to see where you can do better, to talk to professors and work on improving your writing, bla bla. Seems like a load of crap to me to be honest. But has anyone actually had a grade changed? I have a number of solid points to bring up for my property exam, but law school seems to be so dedicated to the theory of professor infallability, and it makes me wonder if it's even worth my time to argue these points to my professor. She is very friendly and open to students, but I feel like she'll just find my arguments a personal attack on her grading, and dig her feet in and not budge. Thoughts?

Never heard of anybody ever having a grade changed. But if you're going to have the prof again, then do it.  1) you might actually learn what they're after on an exam.  2) the next time around, they'll be less likely to give you a bad grade 'cause it'd be like them acknowledging that they were unable to help you out when you came to them for help.  it'd be like them giving a bad grade to themselves.

-Rick @ http://ricklax.com

I dunno man.. I mean every body is speaking very logically here. But this RickLax character, I just don't agree with him. He is not making any sense to me whatsoever.