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February 6th, 2007

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09:20 pm - It says 'anything college related' but if it's not suitable...delete please.
To whom it may concern,


Forgive me if this is not appropriate, but here goes:

Out of two hundred biology students only one student scored an A on our first exam.
The 'mean' was 50%, with about 95% of the students scoring between a 60 and 30 percent.
There is no curve.

Another professor, whose 'identical level' class I sit in on and who teaches the same material, had multiple A's and a healthy range of grades that spanned the entire gamut, where the majority did not fail, without the assist of a curve, but with extra credit questions on an electronic overhead system that we did not have. Everyone took the same test with the same questions with this instructor, as I was told by matching 'stories' via word of mouth, which from listening to the grape-vine, were hardly difficult.

Our professor required advanced application theory for each process and function, as well as it's participants from organ systems to hormones, proteins and etc...all learned in order to deduce questions. Definitely not the same level of understanding.

Obviously this may, or may not, be an issue with one professor simply expecting more and making a higher difficulty exam....and could seem to have little merit. However, as a student I'm concerned that in a study of my peers the majority could not even achieve a passing average...which suggests the professors determination for us to 'apply everything learned in hypothetical situations within questions' is above our current capabilities, whereas another professor is expecting not so much.

I won't bore you with the details of my near compulsive study habits & perpetual prowling of the learning center's allotted hours so- the 'study more' is already an agreed answer, but not a simple solution, nor a complete one, considering current 'review time' as is.

While it's common sense to take a different approach to the next exam and, as is the answer with most things, try harder...I'd like to know:

What rights does a student have when nearly all the students within two of a teacher's periods fail a test and -one- lone student returns with an A?
(That abnormality is what is bothering me specifically.)

Should they accept this & not react, create an approved signed student petition for a curve, speaking to the head of the department, trying to pose an intelligent 'question' to the professor concerning what he would suggest to his failing student body...? I'm curious.

As professors or TA's out there, what are your thoughts when you are presented with this sort of occurence?

Thank you.
I apologize if this sounds like a sob story.
The grades simply seem so startling that I had to question.

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:February 7th, 2007 12:46 pm (UTC)
I don't really know that you necessarily have any rights. Sometimes if there are multiple sections of a course the department will go through a phase of rectifying grades at the end -- and you can certainly ask the department chair if this will be the case -- but fundamentally, it's the professor's course; he/she can grade however.

For future tests, showing up in the professor's office to study can't hurt; you may get some hints about what'll be on the test, and you'll show your commitment, which may help if your grade ends up on a borderline.

I guess it just doesn't seem that startling to me because many of my college exams had grade profiles that looked like that. Freshman chemistry in particular was notorious; the average was typically around 60 and seldom did anyone score above 80. On the other hand, they did curve it, which makes a huge difference. But I can't get myself that worked up over low numerical averages because, hey, that was college for me.
[User Picture]
Date:February 7th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
First off, that totally sucks. Second, in the future when you're signing up for classes that have multiple sections, check ratemyprofessors.com to see which prof you'd rather have. It might save you this trouble.

Anyway, I know at my school, there are some pretty jerky professors who insist they aren't going to curve, and intend on failing everyone, but it never works out like that. I had a religion seminar my freshman year, and on the first day of class, the professor told us that if Jesus were to take the class, he'd only be able to get a B. But when he turned in the grades to the registrar, and the majority of students had Ds, the registrar told him that he had to curve the grades to a bell curve. So, in short, I don't think that your school would allow everyone to fail, especially when they see the discrepancy between the two classes.

My best advice is to just put that first test behind you and try not to worry about it. Just study hard for the next one. Now that you know the type of tests you'll be given, you may do better than you expect.

Good luck!

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