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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

After the grades are posted . . .

In courses with anonymous grading, there are usually a few surprises (for me, anyway) when the students' grades are posted.  That there are such surprises makes me, I admit, a bit nervous:  If student X does a lot better than I would have predicted (based on conversations, participation, past performance, etc.), I worry that maybe, in other ways I didn't even notice or other contexts I didn't recognize, I might have somehow shortchanged X.  If student Y does less well than I would have expected, I worry that the student might be struggling through some tough times . . . or that I made a mistake.  On a happier note:  I very much enjoy writing notes to the students who earned "A" grades.  Back to worrying:  I also try -- though I can't pretend to enjoy it as much -- to reach out to students who did less well, and to see what benefits can be extracted from the disappointment.  And, I try to remember that whatever turmoil, doubts, let-downs, and happiness I experience at exams-and-grades time is nothing like what the students are experiencing.

Posted by Rick Garnett on January 11, 2011 at 11:45 PM in Teaching Law | Permalink


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I am always anxious to see who the anonymous numbers belong to, and worry about the outliers. With my 1Ls, I check their overall GPAs to see if my grade was within range- it almost always is. When it's not, I recheck the exam to assure myself the grade is justified. And it is.

Then I wait, for the inevitable and unenviable conference regarding why their grade on my exam was so much lower than the other courses.

I tried this year to head it off by telling my second semester 1L contracts students the kind of conversations I would entertain [I think I knew much more about contract law than my exam reflects] and those I would not entertain [I got all B's except in your class so your test was unfair].

We'll see if it helps!

Posted by: Miriam Albert | Jan 16, 2011 3:17:34 PM

I like the idea of sending notes to the students who get A's. Do you include A-'s? And do you send hand-written notes or e-mails?

On a different point, one thing that sometimes makes me feel a bit more confident (at least as to 1Ls) is finding out that my grades were roughly consistent with the other classes in that section. So while I may have misread how Student X or Y was doing in my class, her performance was consistent.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Jan 12, 2011 9:18:13 AM

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