Thursday, April 06, 2006

How To Complain

We've hit that awful time of the semester. Eleven weeks in. We've passed the point of no return with the last-chance drop deadline having passed on Tuesday. In most of our courses, there's only one more exam before the final. Most of us give quizzes and tests that are reliable measures of a student's progress; students with low averages are unlikely to start getting As.

Anxious and panicked students are starting to call, write, and visit. Complaining seems to be the only option.

My advice to students is simple: be specific.

If your instructor devoted most of a class period to returning graded work (not going over it -- just the mechanics of handing it back), that's helpful for me to know. How often was your instructor late to class? By how much? How many attempts did it take for your instructor to present an accurate proof of that theorem? Can you show me the quizzes where you were denied partial credit for omitting the step (5)(2)x2-1 when you correctly stated that the derivative of 5x2 is 10x?

When you come by and tell me that you can't understand what he's talking about? Not so helpful.