And yet, over the past two years Thoma has observed a surprising uptick in the number of students who e-mail her at the end of the semester, asking if she'd reconsider the grade she awarded them "because they worked so hard."Is this a peer-made cultural response?
Thoma estimates she received 20 such e-mails this spring out of some 850 students. "They'll typically say, 'I know you said there won't be any grade adjustments, but I worked really hard and I don't feel that the grade reflects the effort I put into the class,'" says Thoma, who stresses most students work hard in class and understand the ground rules. "And so I have a new standard reply: 'I can't quantitate your effort.'"
UW-Madison engineering physics professor Greg Moses is all too familiar with this scenario, and is frustrated by how some students feel they are practically entitled to better grades.
"The point is that we are in the business of higher education, not mediocre education," Moses wrote in an e-mail while traveling in Europe. "This sounds elitist but the challenge of global competition to the U.S. way of life does not call for trying hard, it calls for performance. Students tell me they spend hours on the homework and therefore deserve better grades, even when my exams are mostly made up of homework questions, often verbatim, and they cannot do them."
Is it a parental issue?
I, personally, was not raised to believe I was entitled to anything - except the paycheck I worked hard for at the end of the week. And even then, I refused an allowance because, let's face it, my participation in chores was less than adequate.
The grade you get is clearly the grade you earn, and I would make no exceptions as a TA or professor - UNLESS that student was clearly in my office every week trying to improve and despite their best efforts, sucking.
If you're the kind of kid who emails after the semester is out to try to get a better grade, I can tell you that kind of laziness won't get you far in the real world.