Thursday, October 05, 2006

bucking for a challenge

I received a call today from the associate dean at the campus where I'm teaching this semester. Seems a student visited her to share things with her that she 'didn't feel comfortable sharing with me.'OK, no problem.First concern from student: she's concerned about the paucity of 'A's' that I give in the grading process. Seems this student told the a.d. that I told the class that I've only given out 2 or 3 A's in my teaching career.

Well, I assured the dean that what I had, in fact, said was that I have only given two 'F's' in my career, both to students who failed to complete an assignment that was worth 25 percent of the total grade. The grades in my classes tend to run, in general, about a third 'A's,' a third 'B+'s,' and a third 'B's.' This is a graduate program, and the students need to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA to remain in the program, and if their work is 'B' or better, no problem. If someone turns in written work that would not garner at least a 'B,' I tend to return the work to them with feedback and an opportunity to rewrite the work for a 'B.' My goal is not to fail students willy-nilly, but to allow them to learn from mistakes.

So, no problem, the dean would have backed me up even if it had been true that I don't give 'A's.' It's the instructor's prerogative, they have freedom in this program to set their classroom grading standards.

On to the second concern: personal disclosures. Hers, or mine? I asked. Apparently, mine. The student told the dean that she was uncomfortable with personal disclosures that I have supposedly made, and yet, when pressed by the dean to provide an example, the student could not. If she is so uncomfortable by these alleged disclosures, wouldn't they register firmly enough in her mind to at least have had one example on the tip of her tongue?

I think I see a student setting up what just might become a challenge at the end of the semester if she doesn't get her 'A' (yes, her -- we have only two male students in the class of 30). As in, if she doesn't get her 'A,' she can claim it's retaliation for going to the dean.

Problem for her is, I grade all assignments blind. Students use the last four digits of their SSN on their paper, and I keep the grade book without names. It isn't until I'm inputting final grades into the system at the end of the semester that I see the name of the student next to the grade.

Basically, she won't have a leg to stand on.

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