Sunday, May 04, 2008
Grades are not Pizzas
A student sent me an e-mail today asking me what his final grade is. He asks, he says (and not nearly as grammatically correctly as I recreate it here), because he needs a 3.0, which he says means he needs a B plus in my class to keep his car insurance discount.
Friends, he has not done B plus work.
The time for students to get the grade they "need" is the 16 weeks of the semester, not final-grading weekend.
This e-mail is typical of the pressure we get from some students who have decided what grade they want or need in our classes and continually push us in that direction, sometimes subtly and sometimes not. Well, I NEED an A, they insist. Despite the fact that I give class instruction in what the elements of an A, B, C, etc. are and I have posted samples of A papers, they think that because writing is (in their eyes) not as cut and dried in its grading as in many classes, where they are often asked multiple-choice questions and are graded by a scantron machine, grades are negotiable, or worse: orderable, like a pepperoni pizza. No anchovies, please.
But grades are not pizzas and are earned, not ordered.