Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finish line in sight

I've got my Biochemistry final to grade (mark), Organic and Biochem labs to grade (mark) and then I am done. I will submit my grades and put this semester behind me... sort of.


Units are important. A number means nothing without units. Understanding units is important. Units will also tell you how to do a problem or at least tell you if you set it up correctly. I require all answers to have units on exams and homework. If not, the student will not get full credit.

I had a student, a good student, lose 8 points on the final exam because she forgot units for two answers. No big deal, right? Sadly, this will mean the difference between an B+ or an A– for the course. If she would have gotten 8 more points on the final she would have gotten an A– instead of a B+.

What do you think? Should I give her the A–?

I'll give you my final decision tomorrow.


Dr. Kev said...

What was it our high school science teacher used to say, "I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and mark it wrong!"

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

I'm an ass, so I say B+.

It's a lesson she'll carry with her longer than if she got the A-.

My wife makes fun of me because, when I pay for dinner, I always write in the $ in front of the number for the tip.

"They know what you mean" she said.

Really? I could have just given her 2.45 olives, for all you know.

Liberal Arts Chemist said...

There is enough subjective assessment in even the most numerical physical chemistry course that a professor should be able to identify if a student is an A- student or a B+ student without hiding behind lapsed units.

C'mon big boy ignore the marks, use the Force and determine if the student's grade reflected their ability. Then suck it up and assign the mark. I find it hard to believe that your biochemistry course would be much different than my biochemistry course and I have (12 labs + 10 assignments + 3 tests and a final exam =) 26 marking events in a semester so you should have a good idea of her ability.

Y'know I realize that subjective marks are usually not given in the physical sciences but I always have a 5% subjective evaluation mark just for this purpose. I take the marks away for the units on the exam but shape the final mark with the subjective evaluation mark.

I vote A- unless she is pre-med. If she is pre-med you know what you have to do.

seeandyspin said...

Nasa has ^&*#ed up numerous times because of those damn units, B- (but that is just the spiteful engineer in me talking).


JZ said...

I have been a TA and a student(still a graduate student) and I find giving the benefit of the doubt is usually more helpful than harmful. Has receiving a B+ ever made you work harder? Not me! I think often we discourage students by being specific when in fact everything in life is a distribution! What I mean by that is something like Boltzman! One value is never enough to explain something, instead there are a wide range of values. If the quality of work this person performed deserves an A then give it to them. Are you trying to teach your students how to write units after numbers or biochemistry? Just remember proteins fold because of kbT i.e. those little fluctuations mean more than some people(mjenks) think(or don't think). Word to LAChem.

~E said...

I double minored in biochem and ochem. Of course my major was in Microbiology so it might just be the softer scientist in me talking.

But as such I beg you for the sake of the student to just give her the A-.

don't be like my dickhead ochem lab prof who docked me 10 points for not putting the ">" sign on one of my arrows in a very complicated reaction problem.

brian12566 said...

Don't be a dick.... A-. Paying attention to detail is important- we get it.

katiedid said...

I'm still a student so my vote maybe shouldn't count but I say A-if she's been kicking ass all semester.

LA Chemist's pre-med comment cracked my shit up this morning. I am still giggling.

Chemist Ken said...

What determined the point cutoff in the first place? Was it somewhat arbitrary? If you believe she understands the material, give her the A-.

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