Comments needed for my grade dispute w/ department chairman

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jdhopeful11
Posts: 481
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:39 pm

Comments needed for my grade dispute w/ department chairman

Postby jdhopeful11 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:16 pm

Long story short - I needed an A in my last class in UG to bring my LSDAS GPA to a 3.0. I worked my butt off only to be given a B+ by my stupid adjunct homosexual (he was openly gay and obnoxious) professor who cares more about his ego than teaching fairly. When I tried to inquire about my grades, the teacher not only gave me the wrong grades that he used to calculate my final average, but also neglected to respond to an an explanation for the grades. That is when I appealed the grade to the department chair.

I have posted the current transcript between the dept chairman and I, and hope to get some helpful arguments and input from the brilliant aspiring lawyers on this forum. As you will see, this is a controversial case.

I believe that this post is in the proper forum because of what is at stake. I am trying to help my law school admittance chances here by fighting for a grade that brings my LSDAS GPA to a 3.01, which we all know looks better to adcomms than a 2.99. My PT scores are right around a 170-173, and as a splitter, I feel far more confident going into this cycle with a 3.01 LSDAS GPA than a 2.99.


The goods:

Email 1

Dr. XXXXXX,

I am emailing you to appeal my final grade in the course XXXXX
that I took this past summer semester. I was given a B+ but believe
that I fulfilled the requirements to receive an A in the course. I directed my
concerns to my instructor XXXXXXX, but a response was never
returned.

I fulfilled my requirements to graduate from XXXXXX this past semester.
Going into the semester, I knew that I needed A's in both of my summer classes to
make my LSDAS GPA above a 3.0 before applying to law schools this upcoming cycle.
Given the importance of this semester, I was extremely conscious about class
participation and attendance points. Generally, those are two areas in course
grading that I view as "easy points" because I always go to class and I do not shy
away from participating. As a result, I did not violate the excused attendance
policy, and I participated actively, displaying knowledge that I read all 900+ pages
of the assigned reading.

I acknowledge that the course consisted in a great deal of open discussion, but that
only supports my claim that I should have received a better class participation
grade because I was a part of the majority of relevant discussions. I say 'relevant'
because on countless occasions the class discussions became irrelevant to the course
topics. I cannot tell you how many times current politics took over the class
discussion. Sometimes I forgot that I was taking a History course. The unusual part
of it was that most of these tangents were sparked by Mr. XXXXXX's
anti-conservative views. As a result, many in the class would input their opinions
and direct the discussion towards budget cuts, gay rights, or health
care. One entire class session was was even spent on the Iraq war and spending,
which resulted in an apology from XXXX the following day. As a political
science graduate, I am well aware that discussing politics amongst peers rarely goes
anywhere productive which is why I refrain from expressing my opinions when it is
not warranted. I spent the spring semester interning in Washington, D.C. with the
Attorney General, so I have learned this firsthand. Therefore, I stayed out of
almost all irrelevant discussions without thinking twice that it would affect my
grade. I do not feel that it is fair that my decision to stay out of irrelevant
discussions should be used against me, especially when I demonstrated a thorough
understanding in the course readings.

The only other logical explanation for what could have negatively impacted my class
participation/attendance grade was my infrequent tardiness. I admit that I was tardy
a few times due to unexpected construction on XXXXX Ave, but I explained
myself every time to XXXXXX when I was tardy and was given a "don't worry
about it" response. To my defense, XXXXXX even stopped taking attendance and
caring about tardiness about halfway through the semester. And people in the class
who were late and absent more times than I was received a higher class
participation/attendance grade than me! As a matter of fact, XXXXX was
probably late to class more times than I was. He even made last second class
cancellations on multiple occasions that created an inconvenience for myself and
other commuter students in the class. Gas and parking money is not a luxury that
unemployed students have.

I feel as though I was robbed out of my A. If the class discussions focused more on
relevant topics, I would have been able to better showcase what I learned, instead
of taking a backseat at times during irrelevant discussions. Once again, that is not
to say that I do not already feel as though my participation was worthy of something
greater than an 85. Instead, I believe that the scale used by XXXXX to
measure those factors was not entirely fair. Also, XXXXXX's attendance policy
was a joke, and he knew this when he gave up on taking attendance. To give me
anything below a perfect grade for my attendance, which did not even violate the
attendance policy, is absurd, especially given the conditions of the semester. I
believe that XXXXX just gave out grades as he pleased, and maybe even
purposely skewed with my grade because he knew how important getting the A was for
me and may have held me at a higher standard than the rest. As a result, XXXXX
found it appropriate to give me an 85 for class participation and
attendance which amount for 30% of my final grade. The 85 was enough to lower my
grade from an A to a B+.

I learned a lot about the culture in the United States during the Cold War as a
result of having him as an instructor. However, I am having trouble accepting my 85
in class participation/attendance, and overall B+ in the course. Moreover, the
ramifications of this have left me with a 2.99 LSDAS GPA instead of a 3.0, which
although irrelevant to the matter at hand, create a possible hindrance for my
future. With law school admittance becoming more of a numbers game recently,
admission committees at top tier schools would rather see the number "3" in front of
the GPA. For this reason I did not take this semester lightly, nor did I wish to
leave open the possibility of losing easy points in areas such as class
participation and attendance.

The fact of the matter is, XXXXXX taught a very unorganized class which made
it difficult for students like myself to track our academic progress through the
semester and display our knowledge through anything besides the assignments. He did
not go by the syllabus and instead taught the class his way and administered quizzes
according to his mood; which although unexpected, did not require too great an
adjustment. This has easily been the most unorthodox semester that I have ever taken
in my 143 credit college career. For all the reasons above, I ask that you consider
changing my final grade in the course.


Best,

XXXXXX



Chair Response 1


Dear XXXXX,

I have now received Prof. XXXX’s response. Here is your grade breakdown for the course.

Essay quizzes (40% of total):
7/15: 85
7/21: 95
7/26: 95
8/9: 85
8/11: 88
score: 89.6 (35.84 points out of a possible 40)

Attendance (15% of total):
score: 100 (15 points out of a possible 15)

Participation (15% of total):
score: 85 (12.75 points out of a possible 15)

Final exam (30% of total)
Take home (50%): 77
In-class (50%): 87
overall score: 82 (24.6 points out of a possible 30)

Total: 88.19 (B+)

Both of you wrote rather long essays that included far more arguments than I can really use, so I’m going to try to boil them down to the specific, concrete issues. Here are the points I can identify in your statement.

1) You need a higher GPA for admission to law school.
RESPONSE: Grading at all universities rests on performance, not need. All students could legitimately claim that they need better grades for their future endeavors. We cannot consider this sort of thing in grading or in grade protests.

2) For a variety of reasons, you should not have been penalized for tardiness or absences.
RESPONSE: You were not penalized. Your score for attendance was 100%, so there are no grounds here for a grade protest. Please note that the attendance and participation grades were separate, each being worth 15% of the course grade.

3) You deserve a higher class participation grade. The supporting argument is that you took part in most of the discussions, but stayed out of countless discussions that were irrelevant and could only be expected to take part in discussions on the readings.
RESPONSE: As for whether the discussions were irrelevant, I will quote from Prof. XXXXXXX’s response to that point:

Numerous scholars have pointed out the parallels of the Cold War and the post-September 11 political and cultural climates. Likewise, students often drew their own parallels about questions over the President’s place of origin and notions of a “Manchurian candidate,” the xenophobia associated with both anti-communist and anti-Muslim rhetoric, the rhetorical stain on “socialism” that has been used so effectively in debates about healthcare and fiscal policy, and the relationship between the Cold War era “lavender menace” and the emergence of the modern LGBT rights movement. Nonetheless, the course was a history course and we doubtless spent more time discussing the 1950s and 1960s than we did the early 21st Century.

Most history teachers believe it is important to highlight connections between history and current events. Students do not always see how history is relevant to our lives today, so it is important for professors to make those connections clear. Apparently in this case, you did not see those connections, but from Prof. XXXXXX’s note, they seem clear enough to me, and his note shows how easily he explains those connections.
Class participation is by no means limited to discussing the assigned readings. It includes the ability to analyze those readings and to think critically about their implications.
As for the assessment of your class participation score, I will again quote from Prof. XXXXX’s note:

XXXXXX was one of the quieter and less provocative students in a class of students who were remarkably engaged and rigorously critical. XXXXXXX did demonstrate that he read, but he did not demonstrate much critical analysis beyond the basic reprocessing of the author’s arguments or historical details.

Ultimately, the assessment of class participation is up to the professor, not the student. Many students would award themselves higher scores than their professors do, but no university allows students to set their own grades. The score of 85 is a respectable score, but I see no grounds for making it any higher.

4) The professor did not go by the syllabus and instead taught the class his way and administered quizzes according to his mood.
RESPONSE: I cannot be entirely sure what you mean when you say he did not go by the syllabus, so it is difficult to answer this point, but I should note that professors always have the right to make changes to lessons plans. The grading system stated on the syllabus is indeed the one he used.
As for the point that he taught the class his way, that is what professors do.
Finally, regarding the point that he administered quizzes according to his mood, my understanding is that these were essentially pop quizzes. That is how they work: the professor decides when it is time for a quiz and what the quiz will contain. Most of us use some form of such quizzes.

In sum, I do not see any grounds for upholding a grade protest here.

If you have any other information for me to consider, I remain willing to hear it.



My Response


Professor XXXXXX,

I would like to dispute the grades that XXXXX reported to you as
grounds for my appeal because they are wrong and I have proof.

First, XXXXXXX's quiz policy all semester was to drop the lowest quiz
grade. The final quiz grade in the attachment did not reflect the lowest
quiz grade being dropped. This policy was no secret to the entire class.
My 8/9 quiz grade was also returned to me with an 88/B+ not an 85.

Second, the two "95" quiz assignments were returned to me with "A" scores
on them with no numerical grades attached. Since an A is the highest grade
in the XXXXX grading scale, I believe that it is only fair that they
count as 100s. I have never had a class count an A on an assignment as
anything less than a perfect score. I see no reason why this class should
be an exception.

Third, I am very alarmed by the alleged 77 grade in the take-home part of
the final exam that was included in the attachment. If this grade is
accurate, I ask that you review the exam because I demonstrated that I
knew the material far too well to have been given such a low grade. XXXXXX
displayed a bias against "students who write too much to try and
show their teachers that they know the material" before administering the
in-class portion of the final exam. I feel as though that bias was used to
penalize me. Given how seriously I treated this assignment, I tried to be
as thorough as possible while staying within the page limit. Once again, I
have never been penalized for being thorough.

Fourth, I was informed via email by XXXXX that my final exam grade
was an 87, not an 82 (see below).


date Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM
subject Re: We WILL have class today
mailed-by gmail.com

hide details Aug 20

Hey XXXXXX,

I know that you're in Ohio now, but can you send me my final exam, class
participation/attendance, and Dr. Strangelove grades at your earliest
convenience?


Thanks,

XXXXX


date Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 1:24 PM
subject Re: We WILL have class today
mailed-by gmail.com
signed-by gmail.com

hide details Aug 20

Dear XXXXX,

I happen to have my grade book on me for just this reason.

Dr. Strangelove: 88

Final exam: 87

Participation: 85

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

Best,

XXXXXX


I have also attached a screen shot of the above email conversation to this
email. The 87 final exam grade was sent to me after final grades had been
posted. Therefore, there should have been no confusion on what the final
grade should be. If XXXX responds by saying that the final exam
grade that he reported to me was an error, then he is wrong because my
final grade in the class would have been a B and not a B+ (see below).

Essay quizzes (40% of total):
7/15: 85
7/21: 95
7/26: 95
8/9: 85
8/11: 88
score: 89.6 (35.84 points out of a possible 40)

Attendance (15% of total):
score: 85 (12.75 points out of a possible 15)

Participation (15% of total):
score: 85 (12.75 points out of a possible 15)

Final exam (30% of total)
Take home (50%): 77
In-class (50%): 87
overall score: 82 (24.6 points out of a possible 30)

Total: 85.95 B


Thus, I believe that the accurate breakdown of my grades should look like
this.


Essay quizzes (40% of total):
7/15: 85 (dropped)
7/21: 100 (grade changed to reflect an A)
7/26: 100 (grade changed to reflect an A)
8/9: 88
8/11: 88
score: 94 (37.6 points out of a possible 40)

Attendance (15% of total):
score: 100 (15 points out of a possible 15)

Participation (15% of total): (this should still be adjusted)
score: 85 (12.75 points out of a possible 15)

Final exam (30% of total)
overall score: 87 (grade changed to what was reported via email to me -
26.1 points out of a possible 30)

Total points: 91.45 A


Even when the two A quiz grades are kept the same, my final grade
computation is still an A (see below).


Essay quizzes (40% of total):
7/15: 85 (dropped)
7/21: 95
7/26: 85
8/9: 88
8/11: 88
score: 91.5 (36.6 points out of a possible 40)

Attendance (15% of total):
score: 100 (15 points out of a possible 15)

Participation (15% of total): (this should still be adjusted)
score: 85 (12.75 points out of a possible 15)

Final exam (30% of total)
overall score: 87 (grade changed to what was reported via email to me -
26.1 points out of a possible 30)

Total: 90.45 A


I feel as though if XXXXXXX is going to be put in a position to act
as a professor, then he should live up to the obligations of one. Right
now I see XXXXXX as someone who cares more about keeping a paycheck
instead of acting out of duty to his students. This is indicative in the
discrepancy of information that he did and did not give both you and me.
He now sets himself up for making a controversial response by saying that
the grades he sent to me via email were made in error. But if this were
true, that would mean that he not only neglected to give me my full class
participation/attendance grade, but that he also accidentally only gave me
my in-class final exam grade as well. I believe, based on how terribly
slow XXXXXX was at returning papers, that he did not even read my
take-home final exam by the due date for final grades to be submitted.
When this is complemented with his last minute emergency flight to Ohio
after finals, I find grounds to believe that he neglected our final
take-home exams in place of his other more important courses and/or
personal needs. This could be why he only reported to me the grade that he
had available at the time. I know that these are rather strong accusations
to make about somebody, but after reading the way that he described my
participation compared to the rest of the class, I see that he is only
concerned about himself in this matter.

I once again ask that you go over the new information above and make a
decision concerning my grade.


Best,
XXXXX

User avatar
bk1
Posts: 18402
Joined: Sun Mar 14, 2010 7:06 pm

Re: Comments needed for my grade dispute w/ department chairman

Postby bk1 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:21 pm

Uh, why does his sexual orientation matter?

User avatar
jdhopeful11
Posts: 481
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:39 pm

Re: Comments needed for my grade dispute w/ department chairman

Postby jdhopeful11 » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:28 pm

bk1 wrote:Uh, why does his sexual orientation matter?


It doesn't. I wanted to describe the professor as best as I could. He was openly gay. If the professor was openly heterosexual I would have included that as well.

Happy to see that at least 1 person read past the first line.

User avatar
vanwinkle
Posts: 9740
Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:02 am

Re: Comments needed for my grade dispute w/ department chairman

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Sep 11, 2010 1:34 pm

jdhopeful11 wrote:Long story short - I needed an A in my last class in UG to bring my LSDAS GPA to a 3.0. I worked my butt off only to be given a B+ by my stupid adjunct homosexual (he was openly gay and obnoxious)

These comments are incredibly inappropriate and do not belong, and even OP admits they're irrelevant to the discussion. OP gets a 24-hour timeout for making them.

OP can restart this thread in a less offensive manner when they get back, if they want.




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