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Grading, Changing Grades and Ethics

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  • LAWolfe@aol.com
    Recently, I ve had a spate of students ask me to raise their grades (they were borderline A s) so that they could have a higher GPA for college admissions. I
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 13, 2002
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      Recently, I've had a spate of students ask me to raise their grades (they
      were borderline A's) so that they could have a higher GPA for college
      admissions. I was a bit aghast. A grade is a grade isn't it? And if I were
      to change their grades shouldn't I then go back and change the grades of all
      of their classmates who were borderline as well?

      Then my partner suggested that if I changed their grades so as to help them
      transfer into the college of their choice, then I'd be performing a mitzvah
      so to speak. They're motivated to make the most of themselves...and I should
      do all I can (including changing their grades) to help them.

      Your thoughts?

      Leanna Wolfe
    • Bob Muckle
      My experience is that some universities track the gpa s of students transferring from community colleges. They are essentially checking for grade inflation at
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 13, 2002
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        My experience is that some universities track the gpa's of students
        transferring from community colleges. They are essentially
        checking for grade inflation at the colleges (and in some cases
        factor this into their admission practices). So...be careful, it may
        be doing harm for your future students as well as the reputation of
        your department and college.

        Bob Muckle

        On 13 Dec 2002, at 16:09, LAWolfe@... wrote:

        To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
        From: LAWolfe@...
        Date sent: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 16:09:40 EST
        Subject: [SACC-L] Grading, Changing Grades and Ethics
        Send reply to: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com

        > Recently, I've had a spate of students ask me to raise their grades
        > (they were borderline A's) so that they could have a higher GPA for
        > college admissions. I was a bit aghast. A grade is a grade isn't it?
        > And if I were to change their grades shouldn't I then go back and
        > change the grades of all of their classmates who were borderline as
        > well?
        >
        > Then my partner suggested that if I changed their grades so as to help
        > them transfer into the college of their choice, then I'd be performing
        > a mitzvah so to speak. They're motivated to make the most of
        > themselves...and I should do all I can (including changing their
        > grades) to help them.
        >
        > Your thoughts?
        >
        > Leanna Wolfe
        >
        > Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc (NOTE THE NEW
        > ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.
        >
        > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
        > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        >
        >
        >
      • Dorothy Bruner
        The requirements for my grades are clearly outlined on my syllabus. I have learned that the best policy is to stick by them, then if you are ever challenged
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 13, 2002
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          The requirements for my grades are clearly outlined on my syllabus. I have learned that the best policy is to stick by them,
          then if you are ever challenged by a student or the administration you have a clear-cut policy backing you up. This happened
          to me a couple of years ago with a student athelete. He made a big stink because he NEEDED (note: did not EARN) a better
          grade. The administration stood firmly behind me because my grading policy was clearly ampped out.
          The students today feel that if they need a better grade than it is the professor's responsibility to give them one. They
          learn this in junior high and high school. I have a sister-in-law who teaches in Atlanta (7th grade). She is not allowed to
          give her students a 0 when they don't hand in work. The rationale is that if they get too many 0's at the beginning of the
          semester they cannot possibly pass the course, and they will stop trying. I feel strongly that the students that do well and
          work hard to get good grades should not be cheated, by giving the slackers good grades because they can't be responsible for
          themselves. After who would you rather have operating on you, the surgeon who earned her good grades or the one who whined his
          way into them. (Sorry couldn't resist the gender labels).

          LAWolfe@... wrote:

          > Recently, I've had a spate of students ask me to raise their grades (they
          > were borderline A's) so that they could have a higher GPA for college
          > admissions. I was a bit aghast. A grade is a grade isn't it? And if I were
          > to change their grades shouldn't I then go back and change the grades of all
          > of their classmates who were borderline as well?
          >
          > Then my partner suggested that if I changed their grades so as to help them
          > transfer into the college of their choice, then I'd be performing a mitzvah
          > so to speak. They're motivated to make the most of themselves...and I should
          > do all I can (including changing their grades) to help them.
          >
          > Your thoughts?
          >
          > Leanna Wolfe
          >
          > Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc (NOTE THE NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.
          >
          > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        • anthropmor@AOL.COM
          In a message dated 12/13/02 3:10:32 PM Central Standard Time, LAWolfe@aol.com ... i think it stinks!!!! the grade you give should stick. why did you give it
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 13, 2002
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            In a message dated 12/13/02 3:10:32 PM Central Standard Time, LAWolfe@... writes:



            Then my partner suggested that if I changed their grades so as to help them
            transfer into the college of their choice, then I'd be performing a mitzvah
            so to speak.  They're motivated to make the most of themselves...and I should
            do all I can (including changing their grades) to help them.

            Your thoughts?


            i think it stinks!!!!
              the grade you give should stick.  why did you give it in the first place?  unless there is some kind of error, the grade should be the grade you gave them.
              this is how grade inflation starts.  & your friend - ooohhh they are motivated - apparently not motivated enough to get the "a" to start with. 
            crankily yours - mike pavlik

          • anthropmor@AOL.COM
            In a message dated 12/13/02 4:41:42 PM Central Standard Time, ... excellent comment, bob. mike pavlik
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 13, 2002
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              In a message dated 12/13/02 4:41:42 PM Central Standard Time, bmuckle@... writes:



              My experience is that some universities track the gpa's of students
              transferring from community colleges. They are essentially
              checking for grade inflation at the colleges (and in some cases
              factor this into their admission practices). So...be careful, it may
              be doing harm for your future students as well as the reputation of
              your department and college.

              Bob Muckle



              excellent comment, bob.
              mike pavlik
            • Phil & Carol Stein
              Leanna, I don t what term to use for the opposite of a mitzvah, but this is a situation that requires such a word. Students have to learn to accept their own
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 13, 2002
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                Leanna,

                I don't what term to use for the opposite of a mitzvah, but this is a situation that requires such a word. Students have to
                learn to accept their own responsibility. It's a simple lesson in cause and effect--you don't study, do the assignments,
                attend class, etc., etc., you don't get the "A". I don't even permit students to bring up any factors not related to their
                class performance in any discussion--I cut them off and explain why. It's not that I'm insensitive to their situations, but it
                is unethical to take anything other than class performance into account when assigning a grade. As you say, a grade is a
                grade!!!

                Phil

                LAWolfe@... wrote:

                > Recently, I've had a spate of students ask me to raise their grades (they
                > were borderline A's) so that they could have a higher GPA for college
                > admissions. I was a bit aghast. A grade is a grade isn't it? And if I were
                > to change their grades shouldn't I then go back and change the grades of all
                > of their classmates who were borderline as well?
                >
                > Then my partner suggested that if I changed their grades so as to help them
                > transfer into the college of their choice, then I'd be performing a mitzvah
                > so to speak. They're motivated to make the most of themselves...and I should
                > do all I can (including changing their grades) to help them.
                >
                > Your thoughts?
                >
                > Leanna Wolfe
                >
                > Be sure to check out the SACC web page at www.anthro.cc (NOTE THE NEW ADDRESS!!) for meeting materials, newsletters, etc.
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              • LAWolfe@aol.com
                Thanks to everyone for your reflections. Phil, one of the students in question was S who has followed me around at the various campuses I teach (I m a
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 14, 2002
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                  Thanks to everyone for your reflections. Phil, one of the students in
                  question was "S" who has followed me around at the various campuses I teach
                  (I'm a freeway flyer) to continue having me as her instructor. She claimed
                  that since she'd received an A in the latter classes she'd taken from me that
                  I should consider changing the first grade I gave her (a B) since that class
                  almost got cancelled (so morale was low) and no one in that class received an
                  A.

                  Since so many students have approached me with such impunity around grade
                  changing for circumstances quite apart from their actual performance in
                  class, I'm wondering how often they actually succeed! Or has college
                  culture changed????

                  About a year ago I had a student who had otherwise been an enthusiastic class
                  participant send me a series of character-threatening emails regarding my
                  unwillingness to change her earned B to the A she believed she deserved.

                  When I was a student I never dreamed of engaging in such behavior. In my
                  first year of college I was pretty clueless about how to read/study. I'd
                  attempt to read books cover to cover with no sense of theme -- main points --
                  theoretical positions and I routinely got C's. Eventually I figured out how
                  to study and finished college with much better grades. I do everything I can
                  with my students to prevent them from falling into the rut I did with
                  preparatory quizzes, focussed discussion, and study sheets.

                  Right now I'm pursuing a mid-career PhD and initially was a bit non-plussed
                  to find out that my school does everything on a pass/fail basis. Part of me
                  wanted big fat A's on my work...and then soon I settled into thoughtful
                  discussions with my professors on papers and projects. I wish we could do
                  more of that with community college students....

                  Leanna
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