Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How to handle the student who gets a "B" but thinks she deserves an "A"

This post is for all our adjunct prof readers (and full-timers too).  Each of us has developed our own strategies for dealing with students who email or come see us after the semester ends demanding to know why they didn't get an "A."  One professor offers this advice via the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

I've always told the students they could discuss their grades with me once we are three weeks into the new semester, which is basically my version of hoping they'll forget. Usually they do.

[I made an exception for this student] because he was, in fact, a good writer and because he seemed genuinely perplexed by the fact that even though he did all the work, he didn't get the best grade possible. 

With very few changes, here's the note I sent:

Since I have a policy of not explaining or discussing grades until the second week after the new semester begins, consider this quick email a rare case of rule-breaking on my part: I'm making an exception because I think you have promise as a writer. 

First things first: Yes, you did misinterpret the following:  

If every assignment was completed on time and in its entirety with well thought out responses then the result would be an A in the class.

That's not a deal I make in any class or with any student. You should also understand that getting a B is, in fact, doing very well. You should give yourself credit. It is an excellent grade. The fact that you did well is an indication of precisely the promise I mentioned earlier.

Secondly,  of course you made the deadlines -- which is what I expect from everyone -- and you handed in the assignments -- which is also what I expect. That level of work secures students a "C" because that's what we call "meeting the minimum requirements" and in no case would that snag anybody an automatic A.

You can read the rest of this teacher's response to the student here.

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/adjunctprofs/2010/01/how-to-handle-the-student-who-gets-a-b-but-thinks-she-deserves-an-a.html

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