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Need Advice

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

So, I just got this test back today....75.

The avg was a 59 and the guy gave us a 10 pts curve so I got an 85, which is a B. Problem is, our teacher is a grad student (teaching a 300 level class) and I don't really like him. I lost 22 pts on one problem for doing a dumb mistake. I know it was my fault but if he keeps grading like this and I make a sign error on the next test...there goes my A. I guess getting a B isn't that bad, but I have a 4.0 right now and I'm a junior. I'd really like to graduate with it, so I just don't want to get that first B. Especially if it's because the teacher has no experience and doesn't know how to grade or ask questions that actually test the students' ability to do the relevant material.

If I drop the class I'll get a "W" on my transcript and it won't affect my GPA. I can then take it next semester and get an A in it without any problems. How bad does a "W" look on a transcript? What do you think I should do?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I might be mistaken, but if you dropped the class and retook it later, wouldn't the W completely vanish and be replaced with the grade you got the second time around?
 
  • #3
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Hmmm, I never thought about that. I'll go ask Monday, but my undertanding is that the W stays there permanently. How bad is it to have a W on the transcript?
 
  • #4
I couldn't tell you, really. My guess is that if you got an A the second time around, the W would hardly hold any significance.
 
  • #5
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Zarathustra said:
I might be mistaken, but if you dropped the class and retook it later, wouldn't the W completely vanish and be replaced with the grade you got the second time around?
It doesn't where I'm from, but I'm sure it's different everywhere. If you retake it and get an A, I don't think it matters whether or not you have a W on your transcript :smile:.
 
  • #6
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If you had a W and then went back and got an 'A' on the same course, I'm not sure how bad it could look. For all they know (they being whoever is looking at your transcript), you could have had family problems, dropped the class, but finished it later and succeeded.
 
  • #7
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Hmmm, that's interesting. I just realized that I only had trouble in 2 of my engineering classes so far (this one being one of them) and they were the only 2 upper level classes taught by grad students. They should really stop grad students from teaching 300 level classes.
 
  • #8
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Physics_wiz said:
Hmmm, that's interesting. I just realized that I only had trouble in 2 of my engineering classes so far (this one being one of them) and they were the only 2 upper level classes taught by grad students. They should really stop grad students from teaching 300 level classes.
Speaking from my own experience, they should stop all grad. students from teaching courses.
 
  • #9
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The best students make mistakes, the only difference is that they make an even number of sign errors :tongue:
 
  • #10
apmcavoy said:
Speaking from my own experience, they should stop all grad. students from teaching courses.
I'd like to say that too; I've had nothing but bad experiences from grad students as teachers. But they gotta learn somewhere. I definitely agree with Physics wiz though that they shouldn't be teaching 300+ classes.
 
  • #11
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Oh please, MAN UP. A B? It won't kill you. Just look around your school. There are plenty of saps out there who aren't doing nearly as well as you. Or go to a lower level class. There are plenty of people who are struggling with concepts you have mastered years ago.

I seriously do NOT understand why someone would rather waste 3 months of their lives instead of getting a mark on their report card which nobody will care about in what, 2 more years? After you get to grad school, will anybody else care that you got a B on a 300 level physics class?

PL
 
  • #12
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He is a undergraduate student, that is why :rofl:
 
  • #13
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Zarathustra said:
I'd like to say that too; I've had nothing but bad experiences from grad students as teachers. But they gotta learn somewhere. I definitely agree with Physics wiz though that they shouldn't be teaching 300+ classes.
You're right though, they have to start somewhere (as will many of us in the future). I'm sure there are some excellent grad. students/teachers out there, I just haven't encountered any. However, I can't talk badly about all grad. students -- there are a lot of very smart professors out there that don't make great teachers either.
 
  • #14
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On the test, one problem was worth 50% of the test grade. This problem had a wrong mechanical drawing showing a wrong dimension. People were asking him about it and he just ignored their questions telling them to keep working and they'll get it. Halfway through the test he drew on the board what he really meant to draw, which caused 95% of the class to redo the whole problem...the other 5% were the ones who still didn't know what was going on. Some kids were still confused and kept asking questions throughout the whole test just about how the problem looks. 22 of the points I lost were because I made a geometrical error on this problem. It wasn't really his fault since I knew what he meant to draw but I applied all the concepts and equations right and made a geometrical error...he counted this as 22 points off. Don't you think he should give the whole class full credit for this problem? I don't think I'll drop the class..I'll just go talk to the dean or something to make them stop grad students from teaching us.

For those of you interested, this was a fluid mechanics problem. There was a gate at an angle standing against water supported by its own weight. The weight of the gate was given and we had to do a summation of moments about the hinge to find what the max height of the water in the tank had to be before the gate opens. I did all that except that when I did summation of moments, I used the wrong distance between the hinge and the force exerted by the water on the gate. I know I should lose points but don't you think taking almost 50% off the problem grade for that mistake is a bit to much, or am I just one of those stupid students who complain about stuff when it's their fault?
 
  • #15
tmc
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you cant complain about that.

Ive had quite a few teachers mark on a right or wrong basis, ie full marks of 0 on each problem.

They want to know whether you can solve the problem, not whether you can solve the first half of the problem.

And a 59 average isnt anywhere near catastrophic, so you cant complain about that either.
 
  • #16
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tmc said:
you cant complain about that.

Ive had quite a few teachers mark on a right or wrong basis, ie full marks of 0 on each problem.

They want to know whether you can solve the problem, not whether you can solve the first half of the problem.

And a 59 average isnt anywhere near catastrophic, so you cant complain about that either.
If he graded like that, no one would get above a 50% because no one got that problem right. The answer was that with the given dimensions, the gate couldn't hold the water using only its own weight. That's not the point though, the guy couldn't draw an engineering drawing right..he shouldn't be grading the problem like that. When I talked to him about the mistake I made not nearly being worth 50%, his only response was that other students lost points too...:confused:
 
  • #17
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tmc said:
you cant complain about that.

Ive had quite a few teachers mark on a right or wrong basis, ie full marks of 0 on each problem.

They want to know whether you can solve the problem, not whether you can solve the first half of the problem.

And a 59 average isnt anywhere near catastrophic, so you cant complain about that either.

you must be joking, please tell me you are! An average of 59 is terrible! It should be around the mid 70's! Giving a zero or full credit is equally stupid. Even teachers make stupid mistakes on the board, for crying out loud. So if i do the problem right but mark down the wrong units, i should get a zero? Pah-lease.
 
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  • #18
Moonbear
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
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cyrusabdollahi said:
you must be joking, please tell me you are! An average of 59 is terrible! It should be around the mid 70's! Giving a zero or full credit is equally stupid. Even teachers make stupid mistakes on the board, for crying out loud. So if i do the problem right but mark down the wrong units, i should get a zero? Pah-lease.
It depends on how they calculate the final grades. If they make that 59 a C, that adjusts it so it's not really that bad and gives more resolution of the scores...but only if they intend it that way. If you expect your exam to have an average of 70 or 75 and wind up with an average of 59, you need to consider that it was a poory written exam. There are a variety of ways to remedy this, such as changing the weighting of the exam (if you give 3 exams in a semester and each counts for 30% and the remaining 10% from other things like homework or quizzes, then you might decide to change it so the bad exam is weighted only 20% in the final grade, or only the best two out of three will be counted, or everyone's grade gets a 5% or 10% bump up at the end to account for poor exam questions). Actually, he might have already factored this in by giving the 10 points back to everyone as a way of adjusting for the time lost on the question before it was corrected, whether that resulted in losing points on that question or the others on the test.

I've experienced every imaginable grading scheme out there. Some believe that 50% of the points are for getting the right answer and 50% for how you got there. Others decide if your mistake was a major or minor one worth one or two points or 10 or 20 points, which can be subjective.

As to the original question, a W isn't going to look terrible unless it drops you below a full course load and looks like you tried to take an overly easy semester. When I was in college, we had WP and WF for withdraw passing and withdraw failing, so it was a bit harder if you were failing a class to get away with just dropping it. On the other hand, one B is also not going to be a big deal either, and you also have no assurance you'll 1) get a final grade of a B anyway, or 2) that you'll do any better in another year. There should be a faculty course supervisor who the TAs are reporting to who is able to help them with issues of course content, grading, etc. (they shouldn't be teaching totally solo in an upper level course if they are still a grad student), and this might work for or against you. It might mean they'll notice the pattern of scores and make sure the final grades are adjusted up appropriately, or they could be the person telling your TA how to grade and will tell the TA next year to grade the same way.

In the end, it's your decision. Consult your academic advisor if you are uncertain what the best approach is for your major at your university.
 
  • #19
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cyrusabdollahi said:
you must be joking, please tell me you are! An average of 59 is terrible! It should be around the mid 70's! Giving a zero or full credit is equally stupid. Even teachers make stupid mistakes on the board, for crying out loud. So if i do the problem right but mark down the wrong units, i should get a zero? Pah-lease.
That's what I thought at first too, but then I started talking to my sister and her physics class, and then I looked at the open courseware of MIT and looked at average test and quiz scores. They are almost always around 60%, sometimes as low as 50%.
 
  • #20
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Im sorry moonbear, but it still sounds bad to me. Look, lets say I write a test knowning in advance half the class wont get it. Then I do a disservice to the people that did study, as they are likely to do poorly too. Whats there to separate the people that did their work from those that did not? You cant discriminate the people who work hard from those that do not as easily. It hurts everyone in the end. If you REALLY want to give hard problems, make them homework so the student has the time to think twice when doing the work. U know.......?
 
  • #21
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You know.... once you get out in the field, more than 98% of the people won't get the right answer, and the problems are going to be really poorly designed and ill concieved. Only 2-3% of product development or research efforts actual succeed. In many cases, success means you eat, failure means you get thrown out in the cold. If I look back to my fellow alumni, every single one of us went through one or more failed companies or divisions, or research programs that got cut by congress. It happens, even with the best engineers and scientists, a screwup in accounting, marketing, politics, or even engineering can take your project away. My friend Randy has his PHD research project changed 2.5 years into it, and had to start over due to an unfortunate act of congress.

Work level has little to do with success, other than no or marginal work means no chance of success. There are a lot of parameters over which one has little control as an individual. I think to skip this important part of education in the interest of grades and or self esteem is doing a serious disservice to ones students. (otoh, this does not exclude inept teaching)

If anything, I appreciated my profs would did give us the insane tests, where no one got above 74% and then he promptly failed all of us on that exam, thus eliminating any probability of getting an A, and making a B pretty difficult. It was the first exposure to real life for many, and there were a lot of people dropping such classes. Otoh, in looking back, the profs that did so, tested for ones ability to apply the material, rather than to simply have a rough understanding of it. In many cases, that was probably putting the expectations a little too high, but otoh, I think it was a very worthwhile experience.

As far as units go or stupid mistakes... guess what happens when you blow that in real life? Apart from a failed space mission, people can loose their jobs, plants can close, and in the worst case, people can die.

Sorry to come off like some old codger, but this thread really hit me the wrong way... although getting an F on an organic chem test with a score of 72 gave me much of the same feelings you are going through.

Ron
 
  • #22
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I see and resepect your point of view Ron, but as I said, you can do hard problem just as your example, through PROJECTS. You have clear teamwork, a deadline, and a hard problem to solve, but with TIME TO THINK! :-) Everyone has different tastes though. Im not saying hand out A's, im just saying make it somewhat possible for someone to get an A if they studied.

As for units, yeah people make units mistakes, even NASA, but look. In a 50 min test, you are bound to slip up here or there, that does not mean you get a flat out zero. In a project, you have team members who review eachothers work independently, and SHOULD weed out these kinds of things. Its a different situation altogether. If i was a really nasty teacher, I could give a 50 min test that even a PHD would have a hard time solving in 50 mins if I WANTED to. You see my point, it makes it seem like he doesnt know what hes doing. Given more time im sure he could easily solve it.

btw, nice to meet you ron.

What type of engineer are you? where ya from? LoL excuse my questions if you dont want to anwser.
 
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