Field of Science

New academic year = new policies

Somewhere there is a stone tablet that forms the foundation of the administration building, and craved into it is only one rule: Thou shalt not begin a new academic year without at least one new policy.  This makes you want to avoid any emails coming from that direction, but they sneaky, they send them via the department chair to forward to us, and every now and again the chair actually has some useful, or interesting, or important information to share, so you dasn't ignore them.  So our great institution has a new policy that allows students to challenge their final grade "...if the student has a reasonable belief the grade was assigned in an arbitrary or capricious manner" they may file a formal challenge to the grade.  Now virtually every student has from their perspective a reasonable belief, an unfortunate choice of word, because clearly a matter of faith is based upon no evidence, that their grade was too low.  They've squeaked out a narrow B on one of 4 exams, their highest grade, and thoroughly believe they were doing "B" work all semester, and you have to show them the numbers.  Actually this doesn't worry the Phactor very much because my grading is done as fairly as possible and if performance isn't up to par, students are dragged aside to discuss it.  But still this policy just screams of annoying situations, reviews by the chair, reviews by some blue ribbon committee appointed by the provost, and that all means time, and justifying what you have done.  And each and every time going through the same thing.  On the other hand, every now and again, a faculty member stiffs a student, or even a whole class, by using some sort of random number generator to assign grades.  The Phactor got a D in psychology from a lame duck faculty member, an experience that has unfairly colored my perception of the whole field, and your only recourse, should you be dissatified was to spend your good money to take the course over again.  Told them none of my money would be so wasted on repeating psychology, but you then live with the damage to your GPA, which in the Phactor's case had suffered plenty of other damage.  So what will come of this new policy remains to be seen.  Why next they'll let students evaluate the faculty!


Justin said...

As a former psychology major I can say that your opinion of the whole field probably isn't far off. That's one of the major reasons I switched to botany.

The Phytophactor said...

Always knew you were a bright guy, Justin.

The Phytophactor said...
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