LSU Removes Professor for grading too hard

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Hortonka, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Hortonka

    Hortonka New Member

  2. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    Grade inflation raises it's ugly head again! I think a multiple choice exam with 10 possible answers, instead of the regular 4, is a great idea. Guessing would not be an issue. This galls me because a professor has a right to grade as tough as he/she sees fit. I've had professors like this for my B&M degree and I learned more from those mean professors than from anyone else.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2010
  3. Maniac Craniac

    Maniac Craniac Moderator Staff Member

    If you don't read the full article, read THIS:

    Exactly what part of that sounds bad? We aren't talking kindergarten here, and if there is a quiz EVERY DAY, then it eliminates the possibility of one bad day killing your grade for the semester.

    She shouldn't, IF the first quote is accurate. There may be more going on here than the article reveals.
  4. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    When I grade students they get a "C" if they get a 79. No grade inflation here-
  5. SurfDoctor

    SurfDoctor Moderator

    True Confessions:
    I have to admit that I'm a little guilty of what you might call "grade inflation", but it's done for entirely different reasons than a university professor might do. I teach 11 - 13 year old students, Jr high, and I'm a bit of a softy. It might not be entirely fair, but if a kid is trying really hard in my classes, I do tend to bump the grade just a little. In fact, I will never fail a kid who is working really hard. My kids know this, and it seems to motivate the ones that struggle, knowing that Mr. Oliver is watching how hard they are trying. Some teachers disagree with me on this issue, but I insist. Of course, I take action if there are serious problems that need addressing, I don't just pass them, but I take into account that some kids need a little extra grace.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2010
  6. Dr.B

    Dr.B New Member


    I'm still working on the part that states, "She was told that she may include 'too many facts' on her tests."

    She teaches biology, what should she be going for? Opinion? Intuition?

    Rigor takes another hit, imho...
  7. TonyM

    TonyM Member

    There are professors who get carried away and make their classes nearly impossible to pass. Some educators are professor-centered and design classes to satisfy their own needs. I can remember a few who gave little guidance, assigned huge reading assignments and then prepped you for exams with advice like, "re-read chapters 1-6". I've also seen a few who've forgotten the difference between undergraduate and graduate level work, and expect more than freshmen can handle. Maybe the subject of the article isn't that way...but it's possible the school saved its students from a bad situation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2010
  8. TonyM

    TonyM Member

    There are also tenured professors who make their classes a nightmare to reduce their workload. A bad reputation means fewer students will enroll and more will drop.
  9. scaredrain

    scaredrain Member

    This is probably the main reason this particular professor is being forced to leave. Less students means less money. I worked a local community college that dismissed a programming instructor for being too hard. The course was an introduction to programming class and was required of all IT related degrees. It was also a course that could not be transferred in from another university or college. The instruct taught the class as if one had been programming for 10 years or more, when it was designed to be an intro class that taught visual basic. Often students would drop out of the entire IT program, after failing this course twice.

    When the Dean of the IT school noticed a drop in enrollment and the college noticed a drop in money, after some observations and surveys by the students, they dismissed the programming instructor.
  10. ITJD

    ITJD Active Member

    My experience comes from watching people create rubrics and grading structures to reinforce learning. My feelings are that the instructor was removed for lack of competence in a significant part of her job.

    1. By all means have a quiz every day. Not only will it check that people have done the required reading. It will help attendance.

    2. Make those quizzes as a whole no more than 10% of the overall final grade and make sure they're taken from the test bank of whatever texts you're using during the class. (talking undergrad)

    At this point if someone doesn't pass the quizzes in they still have a chance at a 90

    3. Align mid term and final grades as being the majority of the class grade (around 70 percent) and align the majority of the questions with the questions that are on the quizzes. If people do the quizzes then they get awesome grades on the midterm and final though there may be a synergy essay question on both tests that pulls things together.

    4. Assign a paper or lit review that covers a topic in the course for the remaining 20 or so points that is graded by published rubric (APA, Length, References, etc)

    At this point the onus is completely on the students. If they do poorly on the quizzes it's not a big deal cause the student can still get a 90. If they do poorly on the mid term then it's a study issue or a work issue because they have the answers or didn't do the quizzes. If they get everything else done but bomb the paper they still get a 70.

    There's no way that a professor called in front of a dean will ever be laid out for grading too hard with this approach as it's all attributable to student work habits and the structure reinforces learning the key items. Just two cents and I'd doubt that any professor wouldn't know how to do this.

    Rigor does not directly correlate to lack of social grace or competence. It doesn't have to correlate to 20 hours a week of work. It's about getting the stuff in the noggin.
  11. GeneralSnus

    GeneralSnus Member

    She's not being forced to leave, she's simply been relieved of her teaching duties for this particular introductory class:

  12. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

    What a wonderful message to future leaders (students) - if you are held responsible and things get tough just complain and the someone will fix it for you. Never strive to understand what you are learning but instead look for a way out or around it.
  13. StevenKing

    StevenKing Active Member

    This is a natural consequence to the realities of "K-12" education. I lament the fact that many of my students will become issues for college professors down the road.

    I try to balance my approach to grading, as Mr. Oliver suggests. I have been plagued to work in mostly impoverished school districts with incredible amounts of ESL and free/reduced lunch populations. While trying to be "fair," it's just a different breed to work within. It'll come off as crass - when I meet a "problem" student's parent (or guardian) suddenly it's crystal clear "why" there is an issue.

    I am saddened that this professor is being let go due to "grading too hard (and I feel that there is more than meets the eye here...)". When will we end the era of entitlement in this country and elevate education back to an honor - if that's possible? I commend Charles Murray's Real Education to all who are interested in eduspeak. His "four simple truths" addresses this problem head on.

    I concur with points three and four: 3) Too many students are going to college and 4) America's future depends upon how we educate the gifted.

    Steven King
  14. StevenKing

    StevenKing Active Member

    Instead of calling this generation the iGeneration, maybe we should refer to them as The Bail Out Generation. Can't pay your bills? Can't make the grade? Can't (or won't) study? We'll bail you out. [Cue: Lee Greenwood's Proud to be an American]

    -Steven King
  15. StevenKing

    StevenKing Active Member

    Better article...

    I fired off my letter of support to Dr. Homberger...

    A better article is here and is worth looking over.

    -Steven King
  16. Vincey37

    Vincey37 New Member

    You just called the exact same article "better" :rolleyes:

    As for this professor, academic freedom should not involve setting academic standards at a course by course level. That is for the department as a whole to determine, and it is wrong and unfair for a student to be subject to substantially different levels of rigor depending on the section they end up in.
  17. austinator

    austinator New Member

    There is a difference from being challenging and impossible. A challenging teacher is possible to respect, learn from, and make a good grade. An impossible teacher is hard to respect, impossible to learn much from, and impossible to make a good grade.
  18. AUTiger00

    AUTiger00 New Member

    If this was an upper-level course for biology/science majors I could understand it, but the course she was teaching was an intro course for non-science majors. It was a bit of overkill on her part. I'm not saying she shouldn't make the course challenging, but to make an intro course designed so some business major could meet his/her general science requirements that difficult is ridiculous. 10 options on a multiple choice question? That would confuse almost anyone, especially if there were only slight difference between options. I'd rather write essays/short answers than deal with that.
  19. major56

    major56 Active Member

    "LSU takes academic freedom very seriously, but it takes the needs of its students seriously as well. There was an issue with this particular class that we felt needed to be addressed.”

    Higher education is a business (Big Business), seemingly LSU’s focus, as are other colleges /universities, is the inclination to reactively side with its undergraduate customer/s. Nonetheless, LSU Professor Dominique G. Homberger is tenured; there would be incredibly little likelihood for revoking her tenure or dismissal anyway (e.g., short of just flat-out refusing to do her job, moral turpitude issue/s, gross incompetence, or an entire department is no longer financially viable).

    P.S. This statement, if accurate, could offer insight to a LSU departmental leadership /management deficit: “And while her dean authorized her removal from teaching the course, she said, he never once sat in on her course. Further, she said that in more than 30 years of teaching at LSU, no dean had ever done so, although they would have been welcome.”
  20. StevenKing

    StevenKing Active Member

    Silly me. That's what I get for trying to post anything while students are working in my room. :D

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