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Should I be mad?

  1. Nov 7, 2007 #1
    First, I would hate to appear like someone who blames others for his blunders. But this time around I think I have some pretty convincing reasons to be mad at other things than myself.

    I'm taking a CS class in which I am certain I understand the entire material up to now. But two unfortunate events made me hate that class to death. First, there was an assignment that was due at a certain time. The submission had to be done electronically, through my student account. Unfortunately, my internet connection was not working. I then tried to use my roommates computer - no chance either, his connection was out as well. As a result, I had to wait until a quarter of an hour before the submission deadline before my connection got back up. I then try to log into my student account... surprise, it doesn't work! I tried and tried, but could not get it to work. Because my Internet connection is slow, it takes about a minute per try. Then, 2 minutes before the deadline, out of resources, I write an email to the professor explaining him the above with my assignment appended. The email was sent about 3 minutes past the deadline (it takes time to write an email explaining all of this). He then replies with a "I'll consult the correctors to choose the appropriate course of action". Fine. I wait for my assignment correction and do I get... a 0. A plain 0. They completely rejected my submission. It didn't matter to them that there were reasons beyond my control that prevented me from submitting my assignment properly. Ok, fair enough. The assignment is only worth 2% of my final grade.

    Then comes the midterm. This was by far, by far, and I repeat by far, the worse academic experience I ever had. I am doing great through the midterm until the final question. I have an hour left to figure it out. The problem is, the question is, I strongly think so, very ill-posed. The meaning of the question is unclear and I can't to understand what it is asking. I ask the first supervisor, she obviously doesn't know anything about the matter at hand; she keeps on giving me "just make assumptions, that's all I can say". I ask for help from the second supervisor, who is supposed to be a grad student. His breath reeks alcohol, he looks at the question and says "I'll get back at you". 10 minutes elapse, I raise my hand again, he looks at me, literally ignores me, and walks out of the room to never come back 5 minutes later. Result? I lost all the points on a question worth 30% of the Midterm, not because I was not properly prepared, not because I couldn't figure it out, but because understand what in h**l was the d**n question asking.

    There you go. I am very bitter about this entire thing and very frustrated. I feel that I will earn a poor grade in a class for reasons totally out of my control. I understand the material perfectly, complete my assignments in time, yet I get poor marks. Who/what should I be mad at?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2007 #2
    Have you seen the results of the mid term yet? Maybe most people got that question wrong for the same reason and the grade will be curved.

    In my E&M class the mid terms are usually around 30% average.

    But the grad student should get in to some major trouble for being drunk "on the clock". That's just inexcusable.
  4. Nov 8, 2007 #3
    Yes I got, 65%, the average was 76%. Had I understood that question (which I did after someone explained to me what it meant), I would have probably gotten over a 90. This is very frustrating, as that midterm is worth 60% of my final mark.
  5. Nov 8, 2007 #4
    eh, that sucks. bad situation overall.

    i'd probably go see your professor about both the assignment mark and your midterm proctor. explain your situation calmly, and know that if that fails, it's outside your control and you should move on, focus on doing well on the final...
  6. Nov 8, 2007 #5


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    I think you have every right to be mad. Go speak with your professor (and/or course coordinator) directly.
  7. Nov 8, 2007 #6


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    There's always someone higher in the chain that you can go speak to if you have concerns; eg. undergraduate coordinators who should be independent of the teaching (even if they teach you themselves).
  8. Nov 8, 2007 #7
    I'd be jacked! Def. talk to someone, but I feel your going to be stuck with that grade, i'm sure they'll say, we understand your upset and you should be we'll take care of it, and by them taking care of it, maybe the professor will talk to the grad student, probably not.

    I had a professor try to screw me over because I always corrected his bad coding practices and bad code all together, in the end I owned him.

    He tried to give me a 0 on an assignment that should have been a 100%. It was the final assignment and he didn't give out the grade until really close to FINAL grade submissions to the school (once they are in there, they are in there for good).

    I keep checking my account to see the grade, and finally its up...a 0? WTF! I look for the reason, "WILL NOT COMPILE." So I rush down to his office, and he was just about to leave, I then confronted him and told him to show me the compilation of my program.

    He said okay....he then compiles my program, works perfectly. He then says "OH IT WORKS! My mistake, you get a 100, not a 0."

    Hope things work out for you!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2007
  9. Nov 8, 2007 #8


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    Isn't the whole point of an exam to firstly understand what the question is asking, and then to attempt to answer it? You can't expect someone else to tell you what the question is asking. Therefore I don't think you have a reason to complain about the invigilators.

    The coursework thing is pretty bad: was it your internet that wasn't working, or the college internet (i.e. are you in a room where the internet is supplied by your college)? If it's the latter, then you will have a valid reason in your college's eyes.
  10. Nov 8, 2007 #9
    Since the question is "should you be mad", i'm going to say yes you should be mad. However, the odds that your anger or any action you take will change anything is rather low. You probably have a strong case for your first issue. You can probably have that grade reviewed or something!

    Yet, the second issue is complicated. If there exist at least one student who understood the question and answered correctly, then you lost your claim. It becomes your fault for not understanding the question. Life sucks at times and i'm sorry to hear this happen to you.
  11. Nov 8, 2007 #10
    same thing happened to me on a midterm. As a result, thats the only class I have a B in so far. But 1 person got 100% and plenty of people got the quesiton right, so my complaining to the prof wont work
  12. Nov 8, 2007 #11
    cristo, if the question is posed in a way where you can't understand what's being tested of your knowledge, how can you show that you know the answer?
  13. Nov 8, 2007 #12
    BS. If you got this question on a test: (attachment)

    What would you do?

    No, seriously, I can't believe your reply here. If your boss told you something you didn't undrstand, what would you do? Try to figure it out, or just ask what he meant?

    Attached Files:

  14. Nov 8, 2007 #13
    [tex]V(r,\theta) = 42.[/tex]
  15. Nov 9, 2007 #14
    Depends, if the question was actually poorly posed, then it should probably be taken off the exam, and everyone curved upwards. If, on the other hand, it was simply that the one taking the test didn't understand it, and a number of other people in the class did understand it, then the question was a good one, if a little on the tricky side.

    As far as the assignment goes, I would suggest talking to the prof about it. Possibly he passed it on in an email to the marker, and it got overlooked somehow. But in the end, your assignment was late, and, unfortunately, them's the breaks. I'm willing to bet your university campus has computing/internet facilities that they make available to students, for just this reason. So that "my internet was down" is an invalid excuse. Still, your prof may be in a forgiving mood, or just be a generally nice guy, and let it pass. Talk to him.

    In the end though, for the exam, if other people in the class understood and answered correctly, there's not much you can do. For the assignment, if you talk to your prof, and if he is very strict about it, then there's not much you can do. If your assignment was late, and the university has all the facilities available which you require to complete and submit the assignment on time, then no appeal will succeed, and you'll just make an enemy. (on the other hand, if you were doing it on the university computers, you have a very good case)
  16. Nov 9, 2007 #15


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    Is that the whole question? It does seem a bit incomplete. Did they want you to find the potential outside the cylinder? (I'm going by the method of images hint here.)
  17. Nov 9, 2007 #16
    Regarding your assignment I had a really similar situation. In the end I believe I got pretty screwed over but I didn't make a huge deal of it because I knew the prof well and didn't want to be a nuisance. Now, me and the prof get along really well. He's refered more students then I can count to me for tutoring. Helped me with course work outside of his courses etc. Sometimes it better not to make a big deal of the little issues.

    However about the midterm, if most people understood the question and you didn't then I'd have to place the blame on you. But, with the grad student hung/drunk you have a pretty good case. I'd complain. If nothing else, blackmale the grad student. ha ha just kidding.
  18. Nov 9, 2007 #17


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    We're not talking about my boss: obviously, since I'm being paid to work then I would just ask for clarification instead of wasting time. But, the point of an exam is to examine students on both their knowledge of material, and whether they can apply their knowledge to questions that they have not seen before. Therefore, asking "what a question means" in an exam, is pretty much asking for the answer. Of the many exams I've been in, there are a few when people asked what the question meant, to which the invigilator replied "all the information is in the question."

    Oh, and to your attachment; it isn't really a question. Neither does it ask you to do anything, or to show anything: it is merely a statement of what the person writing the test has done for some problem. So, this would never come up on an examination, and your point is therefore moot.
  19. Nov 9, 2007 #18
    This is awesome. The instructor words a question poorly and you blame the student.

    What's next? "Officer, it's her fault she got raped!"

    Of course. I mean, it was a homework problem, so it's not like he can't make a similar one on a test.

    This was seriously my homework problem. I think I was just supposed to derive the equation he had, but it sure was vague.

    I ran short on time, though, so I just skipped it.
  20. Nov 9, 2007 #19


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    I agree: cristo's replies are weird. He says, "But, the point of an exam is to examine students on both their knowledge of material, and whether they can apply their knowledge to questions that they have not seen before." And how is asking vague, ill-posed questions a good assessment of the students' knowledge and their ability to apply it?! Surely if Werg22 can present a solid case explaining why the question was badly worded, then he was dealt with unjustly. Even if not, what the TA did was inexcusable.
  21. Nov 9, 2007 #20
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