Tuesday, May 22, 2007

67 minutes later

No semester would be complete without a round of student complaints about grades. One of the great joys of the internet is that a complaint that brings mirth to one can soon be brought for the mirth of many. So, in the whinging holiday spirit, the following e-mail was sent by a student to friend of mine who is a professor in an unspecified-but-not-sociology department at an unspecified university:
I would like to express my EXTREME DIS-Satisfaction with the grade you gave me. To the point I almsot take it as a personal insult.

I look over the individual grades you gave me for each project and I cannot understand why it all added up to a virtual "D".

[...] It almost seems to me this grade is based one what I was CAPIBLE of and not what I did. Cause in reality, my projects grades are PRETTY GOOD. But then I come to "Exhibited qualities of creative and intellectual curiosity" And you gave me a "D" ... What does that even mean? I was constently giving my ideas on projects. [...]

And then attendence and participation... "D" This I don't understand. I was ALWAYS participating in critiques.. That's one of the things I know about myself, I like to express my opinion on subjects and give ways of makeing them better. And I DISTINCTLY remember myself participating throught the semester. PLUS -- According to you, you told me I was abscent a total of 3 times with 2 latnesses. Does that really qualitify me for a "D"? Again, I really think that grade is wrong.

Then we come to your written comments which I find particularly disturbing.

"frequently abscent or late" Again, 2 lateness and 3 abscenes in 5 months means "frequent"?

"disrespectful, disruptive" Okay. This I find almost insulting. There ONLY time you thought I was being distrespectful was when I made a joke about you being "brainwashed" it's not like I made a joke about your Mother or something. I don't understand why you felt the need to even put that down.

And disruptive? When was I disruptive? I like to joke around a lot. Have a good time. Have fun. Throught the sememser I don't remember myself acting up at all. Unless your opinion of what "being disrpitive" is, is different from mine, which is probably quite the case.

[...]

So in conclusion, I'm not sure why you felt I deserved such a kick in the balls with this grade, but I am deeply saddened that after all the work and money I spend on supplies and building these projects, a virtual D is what I get in the end.

I Really REALLY stress you rethink this grade. I appologise if there was something about me you didn't like, but if you talk to any professors who have had me, they will all say I've been a pleasure.

PLEASE respond.

[name]
Follow up message from same student's e-mail address one hour, seven minutes later, without there having been any reply in the interim from my friend:
Dear Professor [name],

The previous email that I sent to you was written after I just learned what grade I will be receiving for the semester.
It was written in haste and I was very upset and disappointed. Unfortunately, I hit "send" before I had time to calm down and review the letter. Now that I have, I regret some of the things that I wrote and am writing again to you now to apologize. I want you to know that I enjoyed your class very much and learned quite a bit that I'm sure will help me in the future. Although I was hoping to achieve a better grade, I realize that I should have worked harder to earn it. Perhaps I am more disappointed in myself than the grade that I earned.
Thank you for an enjoyable and informative semester.

Sincerely,
[name]
It's unclear to me if the same person wrote the second e-mail, or if his girlfriend or Mom stepped in for an intervention.

12 comments:

sal said...

i smell intervention and perhaps a tinge of alcohol! ;-)

TheInternetDog said...

Why does it have to be a woman who wrote the second one?

Anonymous said...

well, as someone who has been kicked in the balls by a professor, i really understand where this kid is coming from.

i do agree that the response isn't necessarily from a mom or girlfriend, though it seems quite likely. it could have come from a professor who had him and found him a pleasure.

Anonymous said...

hi. 9:38 AM here. i should add that the professor could have been male of female or whatever.

Ang said...

I get that every semester, pretty much. The belligerent one, and the apology afterwards. Like clockwork.

Anonymous said...

Oh God help me! When I first glanced at that posting, I thought it was one of JF's short stories. He DOES have it in him!!!

Gwen said...

I got two of these this semester, and after my reply explaining the grades, the students kept trying to push the issue--one outright asked me to pass him since I'm leaving and "it won't matter" to me anyway.

Then one day I realized: I'm no longer technically employed by the university. I've explained the students' grades to them. I turned in my grades and all the assignments I had left to the department secretary to keep in case students have questions.

And so I just stopped responding. It was so liberating! It felt good to just click on the "delete" box and watch it disappear.

Ah, unemployment. So nice.

Anonymous said...

Try as a response: Are you one of 'those'?

Elliott said...

Frankly, I'm surprised by the coherence of both emails. There are some typos, but both are readable. I think I have to upgrade my standards.

Delaney Kirk said...

Sometimes the best response to an email from an angry student is to not respond. I had a similar situation happen with one of my students. She wrote me a week later to apologize for her original email.

Anastasia said...

I'd assume the same person wrote the second email. perhaps he was counseled to do so but I'd very much assume he wrote it.

anyway. can I ask just one question? How clearly did the professor communicate her expectations? how clear did she make it to the student that his progress was unsatisfactory? What I mean is...should he have seen this coming? If the answers are not very clearly and no, I'd rethink my syllabus and revamp whatever mechanism(s) I had in place for providing feedback.

Anastasia said...

and now I realize that was more than one question. :)