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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Survey Says...

Okay, this has nothing to do with running, but I have dilemma and perhaps you guys can help solve it. I have a student who is bothering me to get his grade changed. Here are the facts:

Student profile: Constantly late, often absent, turns in late work, all work was either F or D quality. He is, apparently, very involved in clubs, organizations, and student council, and claims to have been too busy with all of those committments to focus on my class (I'd had a conversation with him mid-term explaining that while it's great to be involved in activities, he's in college for an academic purpose and he'd better get his priorities in order). I gave him a D for the course, which -- trust me -- already felt generous.

His petition: He turned in his last paper after I had already submitted grades (which means it was over a week late); therefore, I didn't fully assess him. He needs a C to pass the course (college requirement for writing courses), but he's not asking for that; he wants a C- or D+ (yes, college has a + and - system) because if he doesn't bring up his GPA, he's out of college (he must be on academic probation).

My stance: He knew through the course of the semester that he was doing poorly, yet I saw no real initiative to improve his grades, his attendance or his tardiness (something that particularly irks me). I think he deserves the D. However, I'm not cold-hearted and I think students do deserve another chance if they are truly deserving or have had some major difficulties in the course of the semester (though, I don't think that being busy with student council is a justified "major difficulty" -- I had a student who was diagnosed with cancer this term and she finished the semester and finished all her work!).

My dilemma: Will standing my ground on his grade cause more problems than it's worth? On the other hand, I do still think of myself as an instructor with integrity (god knows how many more years that will last) and is it fair to change this student's grade when there were other students who worked hard all semester, were on time, were there every time, turned their work in on time? If I'm willing to change a grade willy-nilly, does their hard work count?

These are the troubling questions, my friends. What's the consensus? Do I change his grade from a D to either a D+ or C-? Or do I stand my ground and leave his grade, and subsequently, he will be kicked out of the university?

14 comments:

Ryan said...

I say Fail him. That shithead is going to have to learn that being a member of glee club doesn't mean jack shit in the real world.

Full Metal Lunchbox said...

I know nothing of the academic world, having graduated from college 15 years ago and have not ventured on campus since.

But I have a piece of advice that I give to anyone I know whenver they face a professional dilema:

Trust your instincts.

Whatever you decide, I say go with your gut.  You're the one who knows how to be a teacher.  You probably already know what to do.

Sean said...

The only time I changed a grade(and this was before they were turned in) was when the student was willing to take an assignment home and work it through so it was better(which incidentally was in my syllabus).

However, from the sounds of it, this guy is in college for the social aspect rather than for the academic aspect. You talked to him about it AT MIDTERM, and from the sounds of it he wasn't willing to put forth the bare minimum effort(which would have netted him a C) for the academic side of college.

Fail his ass. Esp. since grades are turned in. You've done all you can as a prof to help the kid succeed, and he failed to keep his end of the bargain. *shrug*

Anonymous said...

That last comment was from Sean Froyd, but blogger beta won't let me sign in with my blogger account, so I had to use google.

brunettechicagogal said...

Jess, stand your ground. I encountered this sort of situation when I taught at the high school level. He's done nothing to deserve a passing grade, if you ask me, and if that's how he's operating as a student, he deserves to be kicked out. Especially since he's a college student -- he's an adult now, in my opinion, and needs to learn that you reap what you sow. You showed your concern earlier, and he still chose the wrong path. Changing his grade will do him no favors in the end.

TriSonq said...

It sounds like he knew all the information and the situation he was in from the beginning. You even told him flat out what needed to be done. He still didn't put out any extra effort.

The best lesson you can teach him wll be learned by giving him the grade he earned which sounds like to me an F.

Just my opinion. BTW, I like your blog.

neese said...

i urge you to stand your ground

Firefly's Running said...

I would not budge his grade one bit. He does not sounds like someone who deserves it. I think this will set off a wake-up call for him to shape or be shipped out. He needs to learn to take responsibility for his own actions....and start NOW!

Anonymous said...

Jess, I have to agree with everyone else, stand your ground. Giving in to him is teaching him nothing except that he can do the minimum to get by, as he feels like it. An employer is not going to give in to him and you shouldn't either.

JK Running

PS. What the heck is up with blogger not letting me sign in?? Stupid thing.

Anonymous said...

He'll learn a lesson either way. If he gets a failing grade, he'll learn there are consequences for his actions. But if you pass him, then it's reinforcing negative behavior and he's just learned that he can talk his way out of anything.

Nicole said...

I think you should stand your ground - you warned him. Plus if he couldn't turn his paper in on time he should have contacted you the day it was due.

runner26 said...

Hmmm...most people seem to be telling you to stand your ground. My first inclination was to make him write a paper (you teach something English related, right? Even if you don't though--this might work) that defends his point of view. Suggest that he not only convince you that he deserves a C or whatever, but also to show you (and impress the hell out of you, through his writing skills) that he is a good enough student to deserve the C (or whaever he asked for). Give him a deadline, and if he takes it seriously, has excellent reasons--not just defenses, and has written a solid paper turned in ON TIME, then you might CONSIDER the grade change. If he blows that off, or turns in crap that you can tell was hastily written, then you have done all you can to "give him a second chance". I think this way you will also feel better about your role in his final grade in the end. I don't know if this is even possible, but I thought I'd suggest it anyway.
I think one of the most important things in school is that kids LEARN from their mistakes. It is not yet the real world. Yes, there are penalties, but if this student works hard to make up for his mistakes, then perhaps that could set the tone for how he deals with things the rest of his life. On the other hand, that might just be the way he is...but at least this way, you don't have to beat yourself up over not giving him a second chance. All my best!

mouse said...

stand your ground, Jess. part of being in college is about learning to act like an adult, and if he is constantly given free passes (which it seems like he may be accustomed to) then he is going to have a rude awakening waiting for him when he enters the real world. you did everything in your power to help get him on track.

mouse (who is also having trouble with blogger commenting. blah)

miss petite america said...

i totally agree with what everyone says for the exact everyone has given. stnad your ground jess. it's totally worth it to know you had no hand in making a big slacker and even BIGGER irresponsible slacker.