1. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

WARNING: This is a rant. I was going to just deal with it, but it's really starting to bother me now. I'll try my best next term, as I will no long work full-time anymore! Holy cow it sucks.

I am a student who is frequently haunted by losing stupid marks.

Not because of my stupid mistakes (well ocassionally), but merely for stupid guidelines.

Here are some examples of what I lost marks on...

Calculus Assignment - I lost 8% on my overall assignment because when asked whether or not a funtion is continuous at a certain point, and I argued that it was not because it is not defined there, which means it does not follow the definition of continuity. Yet, I lost marks because I did not show that it was not defined there! For god sakes, it's ****ing a number over zero! What's to show! I LOST 8% DAMMIT!

Calculus Assignment - I lost about 5% for an unknown REASON! The question shows a check mark showing that its correct, followed by 7/10. WTF?!

Calculus Midterm - I lost a mark for something half way through my solution. I was ok with that. I didn't do it wrong or anything... I just didn't generalize, but then I lost a mark AGAIN at the end of the question.

Note: I'm getting the mark back for the one on the midterm because the professor himself was the one who pointed it out, so I'm going to go see the TA in a bit.

Linear Algebra - I lost marks because I used a principle of Linear Algebra I (currently in II). I used the idea that... det(kA)=k^ndet(A). I had to explain why that is! WTF?!

Linear Algebra - I lost marks because when showing that the matrices are not orthogonal I did not explain that it didn't equal the identity, but that's the definition of being orthogonal! I'm assuming the TA knows the definition.

Linear Algebra - I lost marks because when I arrived at an inconsistent linear systerm... I stopped and said it wasn't possible because the system was inconsistent, so I lost marks because I didn't explain why it is inconsistent!

The list goes on.

Note: I lost marks because I differentiated log(n^2) with respect to n directly instead of simplifying log(n^2) = 2 log n then differientiating! They have the SAME solution.

What's up with that?

I try and justify everything I can, but damn even definitions! That's like an english student justifying the use of word by explaning it's definition in the middle of his essay.

I'm doing great in all my classes, but assignments seem to be killing me really badly over stupid stuff.

I just hope I get to do my Honours project next term, so I can hopefully throw a good presentation. Because currently, I look dumber than I really am, when for the most part, I am amongst the few students who actually understand what's going on, but getting marks along with those who don't.
(Students who don't know what they are doing get grades up 85% because assignments are worth so damn much, hence easily killing my grades. My average on my midterms was like 95%, but my assignments... well let's not talk about it. Like I mentionned earlier, I will do my best next term to put every darn detail in it. Also, to make the TA's life hell, I will try to throw higher mathematics in the mix to solving simple problems.)

Note: I agree with the grading system Paul S. Halmos has devised for smaller classes or in general. I will post a photocopy of it sometime in the future hopefully.

2. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

Just finish talking to the chair of the mathematics department, and I have no luck in doing my Honours project. He said I can do it in the summer though, but I don't know if I will have the oppurtunity to do so.

Anyways, regardless of that I get to explore my area of interests without the interruption of an Honours project.

I can't wait until next term. I'll finally have the time to do things that I want, which included reading the Chapter/Section before class! Get enough sleep so I'm not dead everyday because of working 10-14 hours from the previous day.

I HATE WORK!

3. Dec 6, 2005

### Staff: Mentor

Well, my first Differential Equations prof (I had several...) in college didn't give any partial credit, and on a test with 3-10 problems, that means the tiniest of mistakes gets you a low-F (my first grade for him was a 15%). So everyone either got A's or F's.

4. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

I wouldn't mind having that one actually. My English teacher in college was very strict and my first mark was like 55%, but that was high compared to others who average 20-30%. This forced me to learn more and more and more, and I finished with an 80%, which turned out to be the highest mark in the class.

Most students are getting good marks because of part marks, but the solutions or the attempt to a solution is not remotely close.

I heard everyone did bad on the midterm anyways. I think the average was like between 45-55%. I'm proud to say I got much higher than that.

5. Dec 6, 2005

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
I agree with Russ, ask about the one where you got 7/10 with no explanation. There's no harm in simply asking why you lost the points when there's nothing to show you that in the way it was graded. It could be that your TA got lazy and didn't write out the explanation, but there is a good one that you should know. Or, it could be that it was simply a mistake and you should get the points back. Either way, asking also helps provide the TA with feedback that they need to write on the exam the reason for lost points.

Everyone has different ways of grading, so I don't interfere in that (as long as they apply it uniformly for the whole class), but I do think it's important that the students know ahead of time how they will be graded. If there is no partial credit, that's fine as long as everyone knows in advance (you might want to allocate more time to proofreading thoroughly a few questions rather than checking that all of them are "mostly" right if you're running short on time). Likewise, if there is partial credit, it helps to know how it will be given. Do you need to define terms, if you have the right answer, do you need to show all the work, or does showing the work only help if you have the wrong answer (again, something that different people grade differently, and sometimes it depends if they're more interested in seeing how you got the answer or just that you can get the answer).

As for ones like this:
Yes, of course the TA knows the definition, but on an exam, they're evaluating if you know the definition. That's why you're the one taking the exam, not the TA.

6. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

I didn't think we actually had to write the definition to show my solution. I wrote all my work done, and just finished with it is not orthogonal or whatever, which is similiar to my problem with a system being inconsistent.

Anyways, I'll do what I can to stay on top of the game next term, and read texts that are more advanced than the class, and ask questions through that text. Raise my hand for all the questions, and be the top gun. Then one day visit the prof on open office hours, and show him what I get on my assignments when I clearly understand the material, etc...

7. Dec 6, 2005

### Chi Meson

The TA's are underpaid and overworked. THey won't cry for you. One of my TAs gaded lab reports out of 10 points. Miss a sig fig or unit, that was a point and the report that took 5 hours to write was already a "B." Explain a result in a way that was not to his liking (although correct and in proper english), "bing." (And this was before word-processing; everything was typed and hand-drawn).

We have all been there. We feel your pain. Rise to the challenge.

8. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

The funny part is that a friend of mine went to the professor about something he thought was unfairly graded, and the professor agreed. The end result was he got a higher grade, and the TA got fired.

TA's are underpaid and overworked, but that's no excuse for doing your job poorly. Don't take the job if you're not going to do it right.

9. Dec 6, 2005

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Unfortunately, it's not usually a choice. They enter grad school and are told they'll have funding provided, and then find out that it's a teaching assistantship that will fund them.

10. Dec 6, 2005

### Chi Meson

oooooooooooooooh. that actually happened?
I didn't know you could do that!

I suppose it's too....
yeah, it's too late.

11. Dec 6, 2005

### FredGarvin

The TA got fired for one single grade being questioned? Damn...I had that happen a lot when I TA'd a class. I'm glad I worked for a great prof.

12. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

When according to the professor he was 40% off, and the TA probably had a history of mistakes.

I believe it was also because by the comments the TA made about the essay, it was obvious he/she didn't read it, yet giving such a hard mark. You can't have TA's like that running around giving your top guns bad marks. I guess the professor didn't like that idea, so he got fired.

13. Dec 6, 2005

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
That extent of laziness borders on dishonesty (to just give grades without reading the assignments)...if it wasn't just a one-time mistake, but a pattern of behavior, it might have been indicative of problems with that grad student in terms of research ethics as well. I wonder if they "fired" him/her from being a TA, or actually kicked him/her out of the grad program completely.

14. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

Some TA's aren't graduate students, but I'm sure they just replaced the TA to another course, or the TA I had to find some other funds.

15. Dec 6, 2005

### JasonRox

Also, I got a new assignment back.

I lost marks on this one for something I did justify. Not only did I justify it, I even referred it by page number.

That's just crossing the line. I know exam week is coming up and they don't have all the time in world to mark 50 papers (I think that's about it), but don't like mark randomly.

I don't know. I'm just in a pissy mood about all this.

16. Dec 6, 2005

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
How do you have TAs who aren't grad students? That's what a TA is, a teaching assistantship; a way of funding grad students. Otherwise, they're instructors or graders, not TAs.

17. Dec 7, 2005

### JasonRox

I'm not sure how that works, but we have TA's that aren't Graduate Students and I know that.

My girlfriend's school sends out applications to each undergrad asking if they would like to be a TA. (Of course, you must meet the qualifications.)

It can be named something else, but then everyone calls them TA's, and the application refers to TA. Maybe it's a Canadian thing.

18. Dec 7, 2005

### FredGarvin

Ahh..I see. That is a good explaination for the firing. I didn't get that impression when you first mentioned it.

19. Dec 7, 2005

### JasonRox

Unless the prof hates the TA to begin with, then it would be a good reason as I first mentionned it. :tongue:

20. Dec 7, 2005

### Chi Meson

I spent a year at a local state college as a "lab assistant," and I was treated as a TA and was paid as a TA, but I was not a student at that school (I was doing my compulsive education BS work--and that's not bachelor of science).