A student from one of my last semester’s class sent me an email recently. The email went something like this:
“Dear Ms, how are you? I’m your student from subject ZYX. I got a B in your subject, and this has a terrible impact on my GPA. Please reconsider my grade and recheck my final exams and all various course components. I’m pretty sure I have done everything exactly the way you want it. …”
My reply was a short ‘no’ and sounded uncompromising. I could feel that this email was a side effect from what happened early this semester.
Within three weeks after the results were out, I had several cases of students asking for remarking. I realised that the potentially unfair grades were my mistake.
For instance, in one of my subject, I made a grading checklist using Excel and for each stated criteria, I put a check to indicate whether I felt the students had done an “Excellent”, “Good”, “Average”, “Marginal”, or “Poor”. I made formulas to calculate the final grade. Unfortunately, my attempt was flawed. “Excellent” was an equivalent of 85- an ‘A’ in our university.
I made the marking scheme in a hurry and failed to notice that this means nobody in the class could get an A for the project (unless they get a straight “Excellent” in every single criteria, highly unlikely though). To add to the damage, the project happened to be the highest contributor to the overall grade.
A student stormed at me stating how insane and unfair the marking scheme was, and some others wrote email asking if I could inflate their grades. Last semester, I admit that I sacrificed scrutiny to be able to meet deadlines, and believe me, confessing that I have erred was not an easy thing to do.
I decided to take out every single assignments, midterm examinations, and final exams and rechecked them one by one, not just for the subjects of conflict but also for every subjects I taught that semester. This process took almost three sleepless nights. I made amendments to the grades of all students in classes that were affected.
When I told my colleagues about my intention, most of them went against my decision. Grades had been released, they were final, and nobody could change it. Changing them means placing faculty members’ integrity and images at stake.
I wrote memos to the dean and academic bureau stating the details of my mistakes and how I wished to fix them. The reactions were quite strong. The head of academic bureau is a lady who is impeccable at work, she strictly warned me how dangerous these sort of mistakes are. I told her that this would be the last time I ever commit such errors.
We’ve heard the sayings ‘to err is human’. In reality, we could not take that saying seriously. To err really is inhuman, unless you are darn sure that the err damages nobody’s lives but your own. Having said that, I apologise for what had happened and it will never happen again.
In the future, there will be no more changes of grades not because I refuse to acknowledge the possibility of false marking, but because I will meticulously ensure correctness of every released grades.