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Proper ethic to ask for explanation for grade?

  1. Jun 15, 2013 #1
    I just got back a grade for an independent study I did this past spring. I really wasn't expecting this grade (B+) since people get away with A's in reading independent study/independent reasearch/reading courses by doing a lot less work than I had done. I can think of a couple of places where I could have done better, but at the end of the day, I did cover a good amount of ground and went through some fairly advanced topics. Is it proper ethics to email the professor and ask for an explanation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2013 #2
    I think that is perfectly fine as long as you do so politely. Express your concerns as you did in the OP.
  4. Jun 15, 2013 #3


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    I had that problem once, sometimes when you take independent study from a jerk they grade harshly because they lose your work, do not read your work, do not understand your work, are biased towards your work, or whatever. I ended up disputing the grade with the college, while they did not raise the grade they removed it from the record which was a good compromise.
  5. Jun 15, 2013 #4
    I am going to strongly disagree with 'dustbin' above. Ethics are one thing; regulations are another. Before you do anything, I would see if your university has any official policy on this. Often, there are formal channels that students are required to make use of if they have an issue with their grades. There is a lot of variation in how seriously institutions take this. At my undergraduate institution, emailing a professor for a concern about a continuous assessment grade was acceptable but concerns about final grades had to be directed to the faculty in a formal letter. At my graduate institution, any and all concerns were to be directed to the independent examination committee and contacting course instructors would have been grounds for severe punishment.
  6. Jun 15, 2013 #5
    I think you should talk to him/her in person. Please do not file any paperwork without talking to the professor. Also if you beleive your work ws clearly better than people who received higher grades you should consider bringing some sort of evidence. An outline of some things other people did that received an A would be useful.
  7. Jun 15, 2013 #6
    Perhaps you are correct. I figure that a general inquiry about a grade could be an email to a professor, but if you want to challenge that grade then that would certainly be a formal process.
  8. Jun 15, 2013 #7
    Doing more than others doesn't mean that your work was of higher quality. These other students could have covered less material with more advanced topics or with a better understanding overall.
  9. Jun 15, 2013 #8
    is it undergraduate or graduate work? did you ask your prof, or did he give you continuous feedback while you were doing the course? rightfully a prof should atleast provide some feedback during the course if he is going to screw up your grade. some people don't do this. sometimes it becomes necessary to make it explicitly clear to the prof that you care about your grade if only to avoid situations like this.
    you could have a nice and polite discussion with your prof giving your reasons and see if he is willing to reconsider. if not, and if his reason doesn't appear convincing then you can consider a formal appeal to the higher authorities.
  10. Jun 15, 2013 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    If you ask him via email, you are asking him for a written explanation of the grade. That will immediately and permanently close down any opportunity to handle this informally.

    Furthermore, "I worked harder than Bob, and he got a better grade" is not going to convince anyone of anything. At least not positively. In college they don't grade based on effort.
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