Are faculty the enemy?

I certainly don’t think so. This is a nice, short little piece by an assistant professor of economics at Rhodes College. While I think his comments are reasonable and good for students to read, it is the comments that are more interesting, IMHO. First, the article. Some highlights include:

First, I do not “take off” points. You earn them. The difference is not merely rhetorical, nor is it trivial. In other words, you start with zero points and earn your way to a grade. You earn a grade in (say) Econ 100 for demonstrating that you have gained a degree of competence in economics ranging from being able to articulate the basic principles (enough to earn a C) to mastery and the ability to apply these principles to day-to-day affairs (which will earn an A). I’ve hurt my own grades before by confusing my own incompetence with competence and my own (bare) competence with mastery, so trust me: I’ve been there, and I understand.
…In this light, consider this: the fact that you “don’t understand” why you didn’t earn full points for a particular question might itself help explain why you didn’t earn full points. Don’t take this personally or interpret it as a sneer. See it as a learning opportunity. If you understood the material-and do note that there is a large difference between really understanding the material and being able to reproduce a graph or definition you might remember from class-you would have answered the question flawlessly. I recommend (as I have recommended to many others) that you go back, take another crack at it, and see if you can find where you have gone wrong. Then bring it by my office, and we will talk.

Then the responses, particularly to the second paragraph I shared (but do read the whole thing).

[Username] room101  1 day ago
“In this light, consider this: the fact that you “don’t understand” why you didn’t earn full points for a particular question might itself help explain why you didn’t earn full points.”
This is absurd. The student doesn’t understand why she didn’t earn full points and she is asking … but the teacher refuses to tell her why. She should just know.
No, she shouldn’t. She is a student. A part of your job as a teacher is to teach.
1. If I ask why I got 90 instead of 100 or 80 instead of 100, it is because I want to do better in the future. If you can’t be bothered to explain why I missed points, it indicates one or more of a few things:
2. You don’t care if I understand the material. Otherwise, you would at least say, “To understand the correct answer, review ch. 11.”
3. You don’t care if I do better in the future. Otherwise, you say, “In my essays, I am looking for students to use more primary sources.”
4. Your grading system is completely subjective and based on your feelings. You have no idea why you gave me a 93 rather than 100.
You are hoping I don’t continue asking you because you can’t be bothered to teach.
I go through this with most teachers. I’m a 4.0. When a teacher gives me a 93% on an essay, with no comment except “Excellent” I go up to her after class and say, “Thank you so much for taking the time to review my work. I am happy with my grade and not complaining, but I’m wondering what I could do in the future to earn a full 100.”
Most times, teachers do not tell me. But going forward, they give higher grades (they realize I will ask why they arbitrarily marked me down and they realize they have no explanation).
You can read Dr. Carden’s response at the site, but what do you think of her reasoning and argument?

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