College Math Teaching

December 15, 2014

Disagreement on the job of a faculty member…

Filed under: academia, editorial — Tags: — collegemathteaching @ 10:57 pm

Well, I am down to the last page of the calculus I final: 3 “application” problems. This gives me about 90 minutes to go…and a painful 90 minutes it will be.

I am tempted to do it tonight but the Bears vs. Saints is on…which will be more painful: finishing this grading or watching the Bears? Tough call.

Yes, a few students are doing very well, some are doing reasonably well, a few are minimally competent. But there are a few who showed up to every class, tried to pay attention and either did nothing outside of class or “just don’t have it.”

And there lies the tension.

I feel it is my responsibility to teach as well as I can and to give those who are capable of learning and who are willing to do the work a chance to learn the material. At the end, I judge if they’ve learned the material or not. Whether or not they get the credit/grade depends on the performance of the student.

When someone leaves my course with a passing grade (ok, C or better), it is my endorsement that they’ve learned enough.

On the other hand, there are those who feel that it is their responsibility to “get the student through” and get the credential; leaving with the knowledge of the material and the ability to use it is either of secondary importance, or no importance at all. One of the worst examples of this occurred at the University of North Carolina.

December 4, 2014

But I need a B to keep my financial aid…

Filed under: academia, editorial — Tags: — collegemathteaching @ 10:55 am

It is that time of year again; this morning I get the following e-mail message from a “graduate” student:

actually i am maintaining a scholarship of 20% from the beginning of my graduation. I need to get a minimum of B grade in your course in order to keep up my scholarship and not to go to probation which affects my academic career. So could you please reconsider the grades which you have allotted and make some liberal grading which will be highly helpful to me.

Note: this student’s attendance has been, at best, spotty and his performance has been dreadful; it would be difficult to infer from his work that he was ever in class.

I’ve decided to respond in the following fashion: “your grade is strictly determined by academic performance; using any other criteria constitutes academic fraud.”

Imagine this: “hi, I am doctor X and I’ll be treating you. Oh, I did miserably on my medical school examinations but I told the professor that I needed these classes to graduate so…here I am!”

Or: “hi, I am your pilot. I did almost nothing right during my final examinations/check-outs but I convinced them to pass me anyway because I really wanted to be a pilot. Enjoy your flight!”

I know: students begging for grades that they didn’t earn is nothing new.

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