Dr. Z was a fascinating professor. He was full of knowledge, and he gave the most humorous and interesting lectures. Attending his class was more like watching a TV show than actually going to class.
As a result, I took three separate courses with Dr. Z. I just couldn’t help myself. But, from day one, I had a problem; a problem that never went away. I could not understand his grading system.
Every week, my classmates and I were required to write a brief essay on the reading we had completed. There were no guidelines on length or subject matter. It didn’t matter if we wrote on just one topic or if we mentioned 20 separate ones. All we needed to do was show our understanding of the reading.
Sounds easy right?
Well it wasn’t.
Every week, the grade I got back didn’t make sense. Sometimes they were good and sometimes they weren’t; there was no explanation. It didn’t matter if I spent five hours on my essay or just five minutes, my grades did not correlate. It didn’t matter if I used examples or personalized the subject matter; it had no effect on my grade.
What had I done to earn an A? What was missing from this essay that caused me to only get a B? I read his comments over and over, but they never clearly explained what was wrong or what was right.
Naturally, I attempted to talk to him about his grading process. I wanted to understand what he was looking for so that I could control the grade I would receive. But even though we would walk through an essay paragraph by paragraph I would still leave confused.
There seemed to be no rhyme or reason.
Honestly, it seemed as if my grades were arbitrarily assigned. Like Dr. Z. had simply given me a letter grade without even reading the essay. But I knew that wasn’t true. Throughout his lectures he often quoted student essays, and if you ever talked to him about a particular essay he would always know exactly what you meant.
It just didn’t make sense.
In the end I gave up. There was no solution to the sporadic grading system; I could only work with it. So, I made sure I was there every day when he called attendance, I volunteered information in class, and I did everything I could to counteract the grades that weren’t perfect.