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Appropriate to thank a professor who artificially boosted your grade in a course?

by Simfish
Tags: artificially, boosted, grade, professor
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Simfish
#1
Mar19-11, 12:25 AM
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As in, some professors will give you a few extra points on your GPA for a course if they've seen that you worked really hard and that certain freak factors might have prevented you from getting the grade that they felt that you "deserved".

While I'm grateful when that happens, it's awfully hard for me to tell them that. Because (a) they explicitly don't tell you that they boosted your grade, and that (b) it's always somewhat "weird" to thank people for giving you a good grade (since it's "you" who earned it). On the other hand, they do want to feel appreciated for these types of things.

I mean, okay, the best situation is that you treat them nicely afterwards. Sometimes that's hard though (since they're busy and such).
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HeLiXe
#2
Mar19-11, 12:58 AM
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I guess you could thank the professor without saying specifically what they have done, like "I would really like to thank you for all you have done to ensure my learning experience in this class was a success" or something better than that.
turbo
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Mar19-11, 01:07 AM
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Quote Quote by HeLiXe View Post
I guess you could thank the professor without saying specifically what they have done, like "I would really like to thank you for all you have done to ensure my learning experience in this class was a success" or something better than that.
And I would add "Can you suggest something that I should study to help my understanding of (x, y, z)?" Awkwardly worded, but you can polish it.

I had that kind of conversation with Dr. Erling Skorpen, the head of the Ph department, not because he gave me grades that I might not have deserved, but because he let a green sophomore into a weekly 3-4 hour (times were not cast in stone) seminar that he designed for grad students and select seniors. I asked to audit the course, and after a 3-hour conversation (he agreed to meet me for 15 minutes at lunch) he let me take the course for full credit, and I never had to take a first or second level Philosophy course. I'd apply for upper level courses and they would all be approved. I don't mind working my butt off. I hate treading water through the elementary stuff, though. It's such a waste of time and effort.

Math Is Hard
#4
Mar19-11, 01:16 AM
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Appropriate to thank a professor who artificially boosted your grade in a course?

An explicit "thank you" seems inappropriate. It insinuates that the professor was impartial in determining your grade. You have to consider the class curve, and also that ways that you have demonstrated "working hard", like class participation, might be part of their metric when they assigned scores.

On the other hand, it seems like these are professors you might want to keep in touch with on a friendly basis for future recommendations. They rode you hard, but your potential still came through and impressed them.

If they genuinely helped you in some way, you should take time to tell them specifically how, as in "I never understood this concept until you explained it in terms of (whatever)."

I'm a trainer, and I am really grateful whenever a student can provide me this kind of feedback.
Ryker
#5
Mar19-11, 01:17 AM
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Are you guys serious? That stuff actually happens?!
deluks917
#6
Mar19-11, 01:19 AM
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You're professor is likely to be really displeased if you imply he gave you an unfairly high grade. I wouldn't bring this up.
General_Sax
#7
Mar19-11, 03:21 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
Are you guys serious? That stuff actually happens?!
I think it only happens in the States ;p
Jack21222
#8
Mar19-11, 07:17 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
Are you guys serious? That stuff actually happens?!
Borderline cases at my university seem to be "rounded up" if the student seemed to be putting in the effort. For example, in my general chemistry class, I got a 92.4%, which was an A-. A 93% would have been a regular A, so just 0.1% more, and it would have rounded up.

The professor did not round me up to an A, and I suspect it's because I skipped about 6 or 7 classes and didn't do any of the homework (homework was optional, but counted for a couple bonus points).

In another class, I was expecting a B+, but I ended up with an A-, and I suspect this was because one of my six lab reports was an "outlier" towards the low end, but the rest were much better. I always attended classes and put in the effort, and I suspect that's the reason I was nudged up to an A-.
Vanadium 50
#9
Mar19-11, 07:34 AM
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Whatever happened to the old fashioned way of slipping a few C-notes in between the pages of the blue books in the final exams?

Seriously: as usual, MIH is spot on. You can thank a professor for explaining things in a clear way, but not for grading unfairly (which is what you'll be suggesting he did).
mathwonk
#10
Mar19-11, 11:16 AM
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grades are very difficult to give fairly. the only way i can think of for this phenomenon to occur normally, of receiving a grade higher than suggested by your numerical score, is on a curve.

I.e. if the grade distribution is: 92, 91, 90, 89, 81, 80, 74, 62, 60,

for example, there is a clear group up there from 89-92, and then a clear drop off to 81 and below. especially at schools with no + and - grades, you hate to lump the 89 in with the 81, when it is much closer to the 90. Especially when there is room for doubt as to the precision of the grading system (partial credit).

On the other hand, I have certainly made such brutal distinctions whenever the criterion for a certain letter grade had been made very precise, and especially if some low scores had already been excluded. Usually in such cases I go back and regrade the test to make a qualitative judgment as to whether the person grasped the most important concepts, i.e. whether the number really captures the level of understanding. If there is some especially good answer that didn't get a lot of points I may slightly tilt the grade. Of course then I have to reread all the other papers and see if the same thing happened. I.e. this is a question of changing the distribution of scores on the test, and cannot be done if the numerical scores for each question were already specified. I.e. it can only be done to make the scoring fairer for all, not to help one student.

There are two criteria, first living up to any promises that were made as to what would earn a certain grade, and second trying to be fair and give credit where credit was due. Usually it is easier to do only the first. I still remember giving a B to an outstanding student who failed to turn in all the homework because he was absent at a math conference. Later that student solved a famous problem, and always was clearly one of the best students in my class. Nonetheless it was clearly stated that an A required handing in all the homework assignments and he chose not to. Since the grade was on record as having a certain meaning, I did not feel free to change the meaning to include future potential as a mathematician. It just meant how much of the work in the course he had done. In a letter afterwards I was free to explain further why he had got the B and probably this would have more than satisfied any employer who might ask.

Basically it should never be the case that your grade was given on criteria different from the grades of others. Hence there should never be a reason to especially thank a teacher for a grade. Sometimes the teacher treats everyone kindly and all wish to thank him, as when one of my colleagues teaching honors discarded all the tests after a disastrous performance in which he blamed himself for poorly preparing the class. Still one cannot do exactly this if someone performs well.
flyingpig
#11
Mar19-11, 04:16 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryker View Post
Are you guys serious? That stuff actually happens?!
I didn't know it existed either lol

Quote Quote by Vanadium 50 View Post
Whatever happened to the old fashioned way of slipping a few C-notes in between the pages of the blue books in the final exams?

Seriously: as usual, MIH is spot on. You can thank a professor for explaining things in a clear way, but not for grading unfairly (which is what you'll be suggesting he did).
I'll be attaching a $100 bill to my final to test whether this works

Quote Quote by Jack21222 View Post
Borderline cases at my university seem to be "rounded up" if the student seemed to be putting in the effort. For example, in my general chemistry class, I got a 92.4%, which was an A-. A 93% would have been a regular A, so just 0.1% more, and it would have rounded up.

The professor did not round me up to an A, and I suspect it's because I skipped about 6 or 7 classes and didn't do any of the homework (homework was optional, but counted for a couple bonus points).

In another class, I was expecting a B+, but I ended up with an A-, and I suspect this was because one of my six lab reports was an "outlier" towards the low end, but the rest were much better. I always attended classes and put in the effort, and I suspect that's the reason I was nudged up to an A-.
I got 89.7% last term...it didn't get rounded up
Jack21222
#12
Mar19-11, 05:44 PM
P: 772
Quote Quote by flyingpig View Post
I got 89.7% last term...it didn't get rounded up
What did you get? At my university, that's solidly an A-.
Thermalne
#13
Mar19-11, 07:31 PM
P: 264
Quote Quote by Jack21222 View Post
What did you get? At my university, that's solidly an A-.
A lot of schools have grading scales that don't include minuses and pluses, or just have an entirely different grading scale. Or it could be at the whim of the professor.
iRaid
#14
Mar19-11, 07:53 PM
P: 551
What if they didn't mean to raise it? That would be a funny conversation :D
Jack21222
#15
Mar19-11, 08:40 PM
P: 772
Quote Quote by crazyisraelie View Post
A lot of schools have grading scales that don't include minuses and pluses, or just have an entirely different grading scale. Or it could be at the whim of the professor.
That's why I asked what that counted as at his school.
Winzer
#16
Mar22-11, 03:13 AM
P: 605
Fruit Baskets are thoughtful. Or even better, gift certificates to JCPennys for their amazing slacks (Simpson's reference). I kid.


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