Friday, April 13, 2007

Another Student Email

Here's one that didn't get sent directly to me. The course instructor forwarded it to me after she asked me about all the students I'd been contacted by, as she's trying to finalize the marks for the course. I haven't replied to this student, yet. Why this didn't come directly to me, I don't know. My name appears at the top of every essay I marked, in bold, next to "Marked by: ". This is a direct copy-paste:

I was very offended by the comments and mark that you gave me. I feel that it was an unfair assessment, especially when you attacked the qualitiy of my interviewees. One has just graduated and the other two are going into their final years. THis is more than good enough for the topics at hand. Also you seemed to pull marks out of now where, giving me 50% on my literature review. Thats just uncalled for. The mark you have given me as it stands now has dropped my overall mark a lot. I just dont think that it is fair to spend so much time on a project, then to have it torn apart unfairly
like this was. A 54% on a very simple 30% final project is an unfair mark.
Please let me know what you are going to do about this.
Thanks a lot,

[name removed]

Oh, won't this be a fun conversation. My first instinct was to reply with just the last sentence and "nothing". I think I'd rather pick this apart here, then take a few deep breaths and actually reply to this person.

Very offended I'm pretty sure I didn't insult this person's parentage, or write racist jokes in the margins, so I'm not sure where that came from. Email is such a lovely feed-back-free medium of communication, isn't it?
Quality of interviewees Let's see, every other student whose essay I marked (n = 41) interviewed PROFESSIONALS in a relevant field for the research question. People studying the use of wood in furniture-making interviewed cabinet-makers. People studying the use of cork stoppers in wine production interviewed winery operators and wine makers. People studying ornamental plants as an invasive species threat interviewed Botanists and municipal garden workers. This asstard interviewed some friends in other botany and environmental-science courses - three of them, all at once, on some couches in a lounge on-campus between classes. Not "more than good enough" at all.
Marks Yeah, pretty much out of "now where", absolutely. What a great idea - insult your TA when you want your mark improved! Fucknut.
Very simple Eh, not so much. This assignment, a 2000-word essay involving a literature review and detailed interviews, was not described as "very simple" by any other student I spoke to. In fact, the student who bothered to come in to campus yesterday to see me (and was actually polite) made the point repeatedly that cramming all the material we asked for into a short 2000 words was very difficult, much more so than a similar amount of material with a 3000 word limit. I agree.
Need I bring out Pedantic Man for the stupid spelling and capitalization mistakes?

"Please let me know what you're going to do about this." I still want to say "nothing". I'd better not reply to this dorkus right away.

Any suggestions? I'm not particularly worried about anything coming down on me based on my reply. I'm not going to swear at Asstard S. McWrongy or anything like that, but I doubt I'm going to hear, you know, reasonable complaints in an email back to me.


Chris Harrison said...

Hoolleeee shiiitt.

That is too fucking funny. You say this person is in college. Are you sure about that?

I think your response here was pretty good, minus the "assnut" etc.
Let them know that compared to the other folks in the class, their material was simply subpar, and that it was obvious from their "very simple.. project" remark, that they anticipated more lax grading standards, and their imagination here transferred into a haphazard paper.
Sounds like they deserved what they got.

Plus, their grammar is pathetically bad.

Carlo said...

My preferred method of dealing with this kind of crap is to 'kill them with kindness'. Politely explain to them the reality of their situation. Enumerate the reasons why this essay was not 'simple', why their interviewees were inadequate and why they suck because they are useless, whiny human beings*. Explain to them what they could have done to do better and how they should proceed in the future should they want to continue in academia without being mocked as a degenerate 'fourth chimpanzee' given their proclivity for idiocy*.

*Adjust at your discretion.

Sarda Sahney said...

Some days I miss teaching, then I read something like this and think, I can wait a little longer to get back to it:)

BTW, you won my caption contest on Fish Feet! Your prize (if you would like accept it) is a day to post on my blog. Let me know a) if you would like to and b)if so, when you would like to.

There is no rush and you can post whatever you want, even an old blog entry that you partucularly enjoyed.

Thanks, Sarda

TheBrummell said...

Wow, thanks Sarda. I'll think about what I'd like to put up (something fishy, obviously) and post a comment on your blog when I've got at least a decent rough draft.

And yes, teaching has its ups and Downs.

TheBrummell said...

OK, I replied to this person this morning, in my best ignore-the-trash-talk-and-be-super-polite mode. Take home message: I'm not changing your mark, here's why.

I got a reply back pretty quickly, filled with further examples of the aggressive misuse of English as we've come to know and love. Seems "This was soposed to be my easy class this sememster?! I should be getting a better mark in this class than BIOCHEM!", but I guess the bright side is presumably this person is doing reasonably well in a difficult class (i.e. BIOCHEM!).