The following are common student rationales we hear for why they

The following are common student rationales we hear for why they

should get a grade higher than what was assessed:

“I worked really hard.” “I am an A student.” “I came to all the classes.” “I listened.” “I spent hours doing the readings.” “I talked in class discussions.” “I handed in all my assignments.” “I have never thought about these things before.” “I’m really interested in these issues.” “I’ve had other courses like this one so I already know all this.” “I have to get a good grade or I will have to drop out.” “I have been going through a lot of personal issues this semester.” “I learned so much in this class.”

Student rationales such as these are familiar to many instructors, and we understand that they are driven by genuine anxieties about grades. However, we urge our students to challenge this anxiety because it thwarts the process of authentic learning.

A final note on grading: Students often believe that the reason they received a poor grade was because the instructor didn’t like something they said in class, or because they disagreed with the instructor. Every institution has an appeal process for students who feel they have not been graded fairly by an instructor. This makes it very difficult to lower a student’s grade just because of something they said. While classroom assessments have some degree of subjectivity, an instructor must account for a grade they gave in terms of guidelines for the assignment, as well as in terms that are clear to a mediating third party. Because of this accountability, an instructor’s grading criteria are usually clearly stated in the syllabus or on assignments.


Many college and university courses provide opportunities that are rare in any other dimension of life: critical engagement with new ideas; opportunity to hear and consider multiple perspectives; expansion of our capacity to understand and talk about complex social issues; guidance in the examination of our identities, socialization, and meaning-making

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