A professor at a “large public university” bumped up the average grade of an entire class after one student demonstrated her integrity upon receiving an erroneously high test score.
“One of my classes this semester had two midterms worth 25% each, and a final worth 50%,” they wrote. “A student contacted me after Midterm #1 to tell me that her test had been incorrectly marked, as the TA had mistakenly calculated her mark to be 10 higher than it should have been. This 10% decrease on her midterm would work out to be 2.5% of her final grade. I thanked her and had her come by the TA’s office to adjust her mark.”
Although the professor clarified that the student in question “did excellently on both midterms,” she apparently did not do as well on her final, landing her overall mark in the course at an 80, “the minimum required mark for an A-.”
“I plan to bump her up to an 85, which is the mark required for an A,” the professor revealed, adding the student aspired to go to medical school. “My logic is that had she not come to me, she would have automatically gotten a grade 2.5% higher. By showing integrity, she gets to earn an extra 2.5% reward on top of that. I also would be pleased to have more people like her in our medical system and am happy to facilitate that. Nobody else is affected by this as the class is not curved.”
The professor received some backlash from their assistant, who believed the move was unfair, as none of the other students were given the same “accidental opportunity to come forwards and earn a higher grade” as the woman in question.
“I’ll tell you what: in my 20+ years of teaching, this is the first student I’ve ever had come to me to have her grade adjusted down,” the professor wrote. “I have had, on average, a quarter of the class make their way into my office hours at some point during each semester to argue for marks going up. Stands to reason that a further quarter of the class should be coming in to argue for lowered marks, but this has not occurred.”
Eventually, after “agonizing” over the situation, the professor and TA came to a compromise that benefitted the entire class — the honest student would earn back the 2.5 percent on her exam, and everyone, including her, would be given an additional 2.5 percent curve on the same test.
“One of your peers showed impressive integrity and professionalism during this course,” the professor wrote in a email drafted to the class. “I was initially planning to award this student a bonus on their overall mark, but have spent considerable time agonizing over the fairness of this. After all, I’m sure many of you would display your own integrity had you been placed in a similar situation.”
“I anticipate that we will all have to quarantine a great deal longer due to a minority of people around us, so it is only fair that you are all awarded for the good deeds of those around you, as well,” they added.
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