Getting an instructor to change a final grade

Has anyone talked their instructor into changing a final grade?
Has any instructor changed a final grade for one of your students?


If the answers are “no”, how do you find out the reasons why you got a less than good grade?

Talk to your instructor. Mistakes happen. This semester, the automatic-grade-sheet-reader misaligned the students’ names with their grades, in my class. People who should have failed passed, people who should have passed failed. Only one student contacted me about it, and thank gosh he did.

I bet it wasn’t one of the students who should have failed. :wink:

To the OP. just ask your instructor why you got the grade you got. If there isn’t any error, don’t hold your breath that you’re going to be able to talk your way into a better grade, though.

Yes. My chemistry prof neglected to enter a grade on a very important paper in his records. I went over my grade with him, he said “and there’s an incomplete for this paper…” “NO!! I have that! You graded it!” I brought it in, he saw his notes on it, apologized, and corrected my grade. Whew.

Talk to your instructor- but I advise you to have concrete reasons for why you think you deserve a better grade. Don’t come saying that “I need a B” or “I got an A on the first test so the C- must be a mistake!”

Bring copies of your work if you feel the grade is in error, so the prof can compare your grades to those listed in her gradebook.

Finally, the best approach is to simply ask to see how your grade was calculated- if there was a mistake it will be discovered, if your grade is legit, you’ll see why.

Good luck!

  1. No, I haven’t ever had to do that, excepting changing some Is (Incompletes) to a letter grade, which is not what you’re asking exactly.
  2. As to the process itself, it was no big deal at Troy State University (Now Troy University). You went over the reason with your department chairperson, who OK’ed it and sent the recommendation, along with your written request & reasons thereof, to the registrar. In a few weeks, the change would be posted to the students permanent record. The paperwork would be filed with all the other stuff in the student’s file.

I don’t recall turning in anything, we did a few presentations and group projects and whole lot of classroom discussion.

I had a class this semester with a professor that I didn’t like. I felt she was knowledgeable about the subject matter, but crappy as an instructor. Most of the class felt the same. Anyway, I had already calculated my grade for the class (97.7%) and so when a fellow student called me the week after classes ended and asked if I had looked at my grade for the class online yet I admitted I hadn’t checked. Turns out the entire class got an “incomplete” for their grade. No one knows how the teacher screwed it up, but it took a few weeks for the correction process, and during that time a lot of the class was in a panic. My friend’s health coverage is dependent on her taking a certain number of credit hours, and an incomplete in this class would drop her below that. A lot of people’s financial aid is calculated the same way. Needless to say, our impression of the teacher did not go up.

I’ll second this. There are few things more likely to make a professor less willing to reconsider your grade than telling him/her that you should get a certain grade because you need it, not because you have earned it.

This is especially true if the reason why you have a low grade is that you didn’t do the homework. Many professors and TA’s just don’t have much sympathy for students who think they should be able to get away with not doing what is required for the class and then get a good grade because they need it to keep their scholarship or avoid flunking out or whatever. Your scholarship and your not flunking out are your responsibility, not your professors’.

Don’t come in saying that your grade “must be a mistake,” either. That sets up a confrontational tone of you versus the professor, and a win/lose situation- if you get the professor to change your grade, you “win” and s/he “loses”, which will make the professor less willing to re-examine your grade. Instead of saying “My grade must be a mistake”, ask “Why did I get this grade?”.

If you find out you deserve the grade you got, don’t keep trying to get the professor to change it. It probably won’t work, and it’s annoying. The exception to this would be if you have a valid reason why you (say) missed some assignments- documented serious illness or disability, death in the family, that sort of thing. “Heavy workload in my other classes” doesn’t count here.

Did you get grades on the presentations and group projects? Did you get projects handed back to you with comments, or some sort of written comments on your presentations? Those would be good things to have with you if you are challenging your grade.

Diamonds02, do you mind if I ask you why you think your grade should be changed?

I took a physics and philosophy course when I was at Columbia. The first day of class, the professor casually asked how many physics majors there were—about half the class put up their hands. He asked about philosophy majors—the rest of us raised our hands. During the first two classes he talked in abstractions and gave us very simple vocabulary (i.e. black/white instead of spin states), talked about the two-paths experiment and a few other things, all with nice, simple, diagrams. No problem. The third class he said we were now going to begin to understand what all the abstractions really meant, at which point he turned to the board and vomited out a stream of linear algebra that was not comprehensible, not incomprehensible, not both, and not neither. In short, on the fourth class, there were about fifteen or so physics students, and two of us philosophy students. :eek:

His office hours were Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I was at each and every one of them with questions galore, not just about the ‘new’ math, but about the mathematical and philosophical implications thereof. I took out books from the math library, hit up the math tutors, and learned much more about quantum mechanics than anyone else in that class (of course, save those who were also taking qm from the physics department).

Then came the exam. I thought I waltzed through it. Then came the grades. Who the heck knew waltzing was out of style?! I had no idea what went wrong. It was summer break, and I didn’t hear back from him until sometime in August. He was a bit incredulous as well—of all the students who answered questions and whatnot in class, he really really knew that I was on top of the subject. Turned out that though my answer to one of the three questions was absolutely correct, it was answering a question he didn’t ask :frowning: In my zeal I went wayyyy off on a tangent, misinterpreted the question, went on and on about something that had come up in office hours, and left the main part of the question unanswered as assumed.

In the end, he had me write a supplementary paper to base a new grade on. I think the key to his decision was my attendance of office hours—given the level our conversations were able to reach (after I was able to get the math down), he was fully aware of where I was in the class, how much I had learned, etc. It was a fantastic class.
(hoping the SDMB profs don’t hold this against me)

We didn’t get any feedback on how we done on those assignments. The first time I got feedback was when I looked at my report card. :frowning:

Was there a final exam? You could ask to see your graded final exam. Professors at some universities are required to hold onto your final exam for some time after the end of the course, just in case questions like this arise.

There was no final exam.

Then I would absolutely take the “how was my grade calculated” approach.

Also, check your syllabus- it should outline the grading requirements.

:eek: What was the grade supposed to be based on?

When I was teaching, I changed a final grade once. The student came to me with a question (“how was my grade figured?”) rather than an accusation (“you screwed up!”), so I explained everything. The grade was right on the cusp, and the student (who brought along copies of assignments) was able to show me where I had been inconsistent grading an assignment.

My best guess is that the instructor was late turning in the grades. Some schools default grades to “incomplete” if the report cards are printed before final grades are turned in.

What were you graded upon and how did the professor arrive at the final grades?

I guess the qualtity of presentations, group projects, and classroom discussions…which I didn’t think I did too bad on.