Friday, December 4, 2009

Whining and Perceptions

It is final exam season, which tends to be stressful for teachers as well as students.  I am already hearing complains from other grad students about students whining and begging for higher grades.  I have heard one of them talking to my office mate.

I don't usually have that problem.  My students never seem to complain about their grades to me or ask me for better grades.  I've never had anyone come to me with a sob story about why they need a better grade.  They tend to just accept whatever grade I give them.

There are several possibilities for this.  Maybe I'm just lucky.  Maybe my assignment and grading system is seen as fairer, or a better representation of skill* so they treat my grades as more valid.

Or maybe it is a matter of social perception.  Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that students are more likely to ask female teachers for grade changes.  Maybe they think women are more likely to take pity of them, or they are more intimidated by men.

In the course of our conversation about all this, one of my colleagues said, "You look like a tough guy."  I'm still not sure what I think about this.

*Most of the grade in my class is based on homework.  People can claim that they had a bad day on a test, but there is no excuse for poor performance when they have a week to do each assignment, when each assignment has the built-in possibility of doing extra credit for a better grade, and when I gladly answer questions about the homework in class.

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