Responding to student complaints

So far I’ve gotten two emails about grades from ym students. The first student I felt really sorry for and in answering her email I wrote:

Hi ________. I wish I could give you the grade you deserve.You do deserve higher than a C+ and you did an excellent job this year. According to my records you were absent only once and you got a 15/20 on the final

exam. Your number grade was 86/100.

However because of the university curve, I had to give the “B” grades to people who scored higher than you. In your class students with scores from 88-91 received “B” grades.

I know this seems unfair. In fact in some of my other classes a number grade of 86 received an A+, but in your class there were more high-scoring English

learners than in most other classes.

I’m afraid the only thing either of us can do is petition the university to change their grading curve system. I will see to it that this email gets to the coordinator of the IFLE.

And have a merry Christmas and happy New Year. I know it’s hard, but try not to worry about the C+ because you are an excellent student.

The second student received a B even though her average was ten points lower than the first student who complained about her C+. I know it’s crazy, but the curve is based on each class regardless of how good the students are. So a class full of motivated students has more victims than a class full of students who don’t try. I replied:

Hi ________. I would love to give you a high grade that reflects your excellent effort this semester. Sadly, I can’t. I can only compare the points you received to the points other students received because of the university curve. You finished with 76/100 and while you did an excellent job on the oral final, missing that test hurt your grade (8/20 for tests) and the final written test also didn’t help.

I understand that you want a higher grade, but I think you were lucky. There aren’t many students who can miss a quiz and still get a good grade (and a B is a good grade although it’s natural that you want better). When I was calculating the grades, I noticed that you were the last student to receive a B. One less point and you would have gotten a C+.

I will send a copy of this email to the coordinator of the IFLE. We can hope that there won’t be a university curve in the future, but for now I can not change your grade. I know this is bad news, but there’s nothing I can do Please don’t let something like this ruin your holidays. I hope you have a very merry Christmas and happy New Year. And thank you for the Christmas card! I really did appreciate it.

Filed Under: Tests and assessment

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  1. Holly Dilatush says:

    Hi James (Jim?)

    I find it ironic but “fate” that I found your blog by google-searching “trotta esl go” because I wanted to share your wonderful website in a discussion forum for one of the online courses I’m in the midst of.

    I am glad to know of your new discovery of Connect Korea, and will check it out also.

    I laughed when I read your emails to your students, they are nearly verbatim emails I sent, with the exception of your brilliant idea to copy the email to the director (communication is so often the key missing element).

    A survey I did with students as a question prompt on the final exam yielded interesting feedback on “If I could change one thing about this class at CUK, I ______________” — these I did compile and did send to Ms. Koo, Victoria, and the Director. But I will “steal” your brilliant idea and forward my student email messages and my responses to the Director in the future — nice work!

    I will also go check your new color scheme and respond to that query — it is ironically timing as well, because I just completed a task on my course with regard to page design implications!

    And one last irony, this blogsite was recommended again to me just this week — and is on my list to check out — and possibly join… the interaction part with somewhat likeminded folks is what I miss — my third tabulas blog was created as a daily teachers blog but hasn’t taken off — I find myself still handwriting most teaching-related reflections, not sure why.

    Glad to discover yours, and hope we continue to share.

    Oh! and Congratulations! Rumor has it that is now official and you are leaving IFLE for stronger resume builder position at CUK?