Tuesday, May 17, 2011

End of Semester Grades

The spring semester is over where I teach.  A few random thoughts about grades and grading...

- Grades aren't gifts or punishments.  My courses have a very detailed grade breakdown in the syllabus.  Assignments are worth so much, exams so much, etc.  Nothing subjective, all based on student performance and recorded in an Excel spreadsheet that automatically calculates the grade.  No need to thank me when you get an A, it was your hard work.  No need to get mad at me when you get a D, it was your own lack of hard work.  There's nothing arbitrary about grades in my classes.

- How the fuck do you "forget" to take a final exam?  A student in an online course forgot that the final exam was due by 8 am this morning (after having an entire week to do it).  Even though assignments have been due 8 am Tuesday mornings all semester long.  Even though the syllabus provided on day one specified the final exam was this week.  Even though it was "Finals Week" at the college.  Even though the course announcements said "Do the final this week by 8 am Tuesday".  Even though I sent email last night to all students who hadn't done it yet.  A math professor also told me a student told them that they forgot to show up for the math final (math has group finals all given on the same day at the same time).  Not my problem, better luck next semester.

- Sometimes I wish I could give out F- (F minus) grades.  An F doesn't quite express how poorly they did.

- Why do students think that telling me they "NEED" to pass the course after earning a failing grade because they never turned in half the assignments, missed a lot of classes, etc. is going to sway me?  If you needed to pass the course, you could at least have made a half-assed attempt to try learning the material.

- I love it when students do a great job on an exam or final paper.  It makes me happy to see good work and have the student earn an A.  I hate having to assign people D's and F's.

- One can often predict, the first week of class, who will end up getting an A or a D.  The young lady with a new binder in the front row who smiles and answers questions vs. the guy in the back corner slouched in his seat with earbuds and a scowl.  No surprises there.

Tomorrow's graduation - it's great to see hundreds of students who have succeeded and are off to four-year schools or a career.


  1. How bad does a student's work have to be to get an F, and what would you think wualifies as an F- ?

  2. Below 60% is an F. Sometimes people manage averages below 40%

  3. When a student asked "Why did you give me an F?" my predecessor in the department in which I teach, a crusty old Kentuckian, said, "Son, 'cuz I couldn't give you a G."

  4. I had one once ask "I needed this class to graduate! How could I fail? I got an 85 on the project!"

    My response: "Yes, but your other 9 grades were a 60, and 8 zeros. That averages to an F."