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Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Moderator: Tempo Gain

Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Ducked » 05 Jul 2011, 20:08

I screwed up a students grade and will have to change it.

As some may know, this is a BIG NO-NO here. But there's more.

She missed the Midterm for a valid reason (Uncles Funeral). I forgot this and failed her.

In the case of an exam missed for a valid reason, I assign them the same % grade contribution for the missed exam as they got for a comparable exam (in this case, the end-of-term, 23%) that they sat. This raises her overall grade from 52% to 75%

Taiwanese teachers are not comfortable with this procedure. Possibly they don't understand it, (They don't, after all, generally understand percentages. I am NOT kidding!) but they say its "unfair". I think they would prefer to see some pointless busy-work, like a "make-up" test, to somehow keep up appearances, though as far as I can tell this will almost certainly be less fair, as well as being a pain for all concerned.

This antipathy would normally be of no concern to me, but in this case I'm going to have to defend the grade adjustment procedure, since I'll have to appear before the "why did you screw up your grade(s) committee". The boss has suggested that I'll have to have a "logical explanation" for the adjustment procedure (NOT, please note, for the screw-up).

Would that it was so simple. A "logical explanation" I got, but it is, of course, absolutely NOT what I need. I need an explanation that will satisfy Taiwanese Academics, and it had better, therefore, be bullshit.

Or I just go for open defiance, but that won't fly right because I MADE A MISTAKE (and, MUCH worse, completely failed to conceal it.)

Any suggestions?
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone?

Postby housecat » 05 Jul 2011, 20:35

1) It is unfair to give the student a make-up exam or project because there is no way she could possible preform as well as possible while her heart and mind are suffering the torments of grief. To be fair, you have given her the same grade she made on a previous exam because it accurately reflects how she was preforming in your class prior to her great loss, yet puts no added and undue stress on her at this difficult time.

2) You are very concerned about this matter and about this student, so you have burnt incense and made offerings to your ancestors, earnestly seeking an answer. Your grandfather (who was a very respected and accomplished scholar in your home country) came to you in a dream offering guidance. He told you to assign the same grade she made on a previous exam, so you have done as your ancestors have instructed you to do.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone?

Postby lostinasia » 05 Jul 2011, 21:17

Ducked wrote:I'm going to have to defend the grade adjustment procedure, since I'll have to appear before the "why did you screw up your grade(s) committee". The boss has suggested that I'll have to have a "logical explanation" for the adjustment procedure (NOT, please note, for the screw-up).

Would that it was so simple. A "logical explanation" I got, but it is, of course, absolutely NOT what I need. I need an explanation that will satisfy Taiwanese Academics, and it had better, therefore, be bullshit.

Or I just go for open defiance, but that won't fly right because I MADE A MISTAKE (and, MUCH worse, completely failed to conceal it.)

I think Housecat's #1 suggestion will serve you well. Alternatively: just tell the student to give you a couple of paragraphs talking about something inane, like what she's going to do in summer vacation. Tell the committee this kind of, oh, 'guided research project' will stand in place of the exam.

I've gone before one of those committees before to change a grade: it worked out for the student, but I remember that I followed my boss's advice on how to present my case - and that presentation was mostly BS. It worked out, sure, but I've always felt crappy about lying like that to suit whatever face requirements were being met.

So basically I'm warning you that if you go the "satisfying Taiwanese academics" route, things will probably technically end well, but it won't make you feel happy about yourself. But doing something that makes you feel ethical/ principled may also be a dumb move.

(My own situation was different: I had a student that got something like 55% with me, and then appealed because she was graduating and would have had to come back to school for another year for an English course that was, to be frank, a joke. I felt that although she deserved to fail the course, she didn't deserve to have her whole life put on hold for a year, so I was willing to pass her; my boss told me to give some BS story - I don't even remember what it was - rather than the truth. I still wish I'd told the truth, even though that may have caused trouble for me; but I figure that's what panels of your 'superiors' are for. "Here's the situation: this is what I'd like to do, but I leave the decision in your wise and capable hands.")
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone?

Postby Ducked » 05 Jul 2011, 23:09

housecat wrote:1) It is unfair to give the student a make-up exam or project because there is no way she could possible preform as well as possible while her heart and mind are suffering the torments of grief. To be fair, you have given her the same grade she made on a previous exam because it accurately reflects how she was preforming in your class prior to her great loss, yet puts no added and undue stress on her at this difficult time.

2) You are very concerned about this matter and about this student, so you have burnt incense and made offerings to your ancestors, earnestly seeking an answer. Your grandfather (who was a very respected and accomplished scholar in your home country) came to you in a dream offering guidance. He told you to assign the same grade she made on a previous exam, so you have done as your ancestors have instructed you to do.


First bit is reasonable. But I guess that can't be helped.

2nd bit is pure, fat, waving-cat gold. :thumbsup:

Just have to work on my straight face a bit.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone?

Postby Deuce Dropper » 05 Jul 2011, 23:45

Chinese logic


:roflmao: doesn't exist in the form you know it as. 5000 years of culture matey.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone?

Postby Ducked » 05 Jul 2011, 23:56

lostinasia wrote:
Ducked wrote:I'm going to have to defend the grade adjustment procedure, since I'll have to appear before the "why did you screw up your grade(s) committee". The boss has suggested that I'll have to have a "logical explanation" for the adjustment procedure (NOT, please note, for the screw-up).

Would that it was so simple. A "logical explanation" I got, but it is, of course, absolutely NOT what I need. I need an explanation that will satisfy Taiwanese Academics, and it had better, therefore, be bullshit.

Or I just go for open defiance, but that won't fly right because I MADE A MISTAKE (and, MUCH worse, completely failed to conceal it.)

I think Housecat's #1 suggestion will serve you well. Alternatively: just tell the student to give you a couple of paragraphs talking about something inane, like what she's going to do in summer vacation. Tell the committee this kind of, oh, 'guided research project' will stand in place of the exam.

I've gone before one of those committees before to change a grade: it worked out for the student, but I remember that I followed my boss's advice on how to present my case - and that presentation was mostly BS. It worked out, sure, but I've always felt crappy about lying like that to suit whatever face requirements were being met.

So basically I'm warning you that if you go the "satisfying Taiwanese academics" route, things will probably technically end well, but it won't make you feel happy about yourself. But doing something that makes you feel ethical/ principled may also be a dumb move.

(My own situation was different: I had a student that got something like 55% with me, and then appealed because she was graduating and would have had to come back to school for another year for an English course that was, to be frank, a joke. I felt that although she deserved to fail the course, she didn't deserve to have her whole life put on hold for a year, so I was willing to pass her; my boss told me to give some BS story - I don't even remember what it was - rather than the truth. I still wish I'd told the truth, even though that may have caused trouble for me; but I figure that's what panels of your 'superiors' are for. "Here's the situation: this is what I'd like to do, but I leave the decision in your wise and capable hands.")


I'm afraid I've done maybe three now, and its been suggested that more might be fatal, though the last one was three years ago so I might have some more slack. Last-but-one I had to write a report, which was then mis-translated into Chinese, and then I had to answer questions on the Chinese version (which was not what happened, and which I couldn't read), while attempting to minimise conflict.

It was tricky. I gave up on the conflict-minimisation after a while.

It had been a spreadsheet error which had lowered some students grades by about 10%. No pass/fail differences IIRC.

Cttee member : "It says here there were student complaints. How many students complained?"

Me: "No, I'm afraid that is also incorrect. No students complained."

Cttee member: "Then how was the error detected"

Me: "I noticed it and reported it the day after the grade submission deadline"

Cttee member (slightly incredulous) "You reported it?"

Me: "Yes"

Cttee members look at each other nonplussed. There's an embarrassed shuffling of papers. Eventually, one asks:-

"Ah...Is this because of your religion?"

Me: (Now its my turn to look nonplussed)

"Er...No. I don't have any religion"

More baffled glances....then an especially westernised prof, says, in a going-out-on-a-limb-here kinda way...

"Um..Is it perhaps a....well.......honour code thing?"

I think for a moment: " You mean....telling the truth.....um.....yes, I suppose you could say that"

The assembled company nod sagely, and move on.

I was in a just-sub-borderline situation like the one you describe above last year, and I'm afraid I succumbed to fairly heavy pressure from the boss, and the girls form teacher to fail her. She'd seemed to have colds a lot, but she didn't have official medical excuses.

I suspect that the pressure was partly motivated by the girl being spectacularly sexy, which may have meant they were suspicious of my motivation for wanting to pass her, but I don't think that was my reason.

If I had passed her I don't think there would have been any further enquiry, so it wouldn't have gone to any committee, those are just for grade changes, but the boss would have been pissed off.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone?

Postby ādikarmika » 06 Jul 2011, 07:02

Ducked wrote:Taiwanese teachers are not comfortable with this procedure. Possibly they don't understand it, (They don't, after all, generally understand percentages. I am NOT kidding!) but they say its "unfair". I think they would prefer to see some pointless busy-work, like a "make-up" test, to somehow keep up appearances, though as far as I can tell this will almost certainly be less fair, as well as being a pain for all concerned.


I don't conduct mid-terms or finals. Instead, I base their final grade on a number of video assignments and quizzes. If a student misses a quiz and bothers to give me an excuse (bullshit or genuine, it doesn't matter), I simply tell them that I will give them a score for the missed quiz equal to the score they get on the next quiz. (This seems to be similar to what you do with your mid-terms and finals.) I should add that this is not a policy that I ever announce to the class as a whole, as I expect them to turn up for all the quizzes.

As far as I can recall, in every case the student concerned has thought this was a fair arrangement. But then again, given the alternative of getting zero for the missed quiz, this is not surprising.

My point is, why not present the student's point of view? If he or she thinks it's fair, who is another teacher to say it isn't? It doesn't affect the other students' grades.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone?

Postby Ducked » 06 Jul 2011, 11:01

adikarmika wrote:

My point is, why not present the student's point of view? If he or she thinks it's fair, who is another teacher to say it isn't? It doesn't affect the other students' grades.


I don't think they'd like that AT ALL.

Who are they? They are the Why Did You Screw Up Your Grades Committee

(And dont you forget it, Big Nose.)
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby Tempo Gain » 06 Jul 2011, 12:58

Ducked wrote:
This antipathy would normally be of no concern to me, but in this case I'm going to have to defend the grade adjustment procedure, since I'll have to appear before the "why did you screw up your grade(s) committee". The boss has suggested that I'll have to have a "logical explanation" for the adjustment procedure (NOT, please note, for the screw-up).

Would that it was so simple. A "logical explanation" I got, but it is, of course, absolutely NOT what I need. I need an explanation that will satisfy Taiwanese Academics, and it had better, therefore, be bullshit.



The fact that you are being required to supply a "logical explanation" implies that there is no satisfactory possible explanation. Give the make-up.
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Re: Chinese Logic? Anyone? Anyone? (changing a student's grade)

Postby finley » 06 Jul 2011, 13:49

Cttee members look at each other nonplussed. There's an embarrassed shuffling of papers. Eventually, one asks:-

"Ah...Is this because of your religion?"

Me: (Now its my turn to look nonplussed)

...



Hells bleedin' bells. I've heard some stories about Taiwanese academia but that one should win some awards. Do you promise you're not just winding us up? That actually happened?

I can now fully understand (and appreciate, like fine wines) your regular rants!
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