Oh, no—that’s supposed to be a secret!


Daniel Solove is going to be in big trouble at the next meeting of the secret teacher’s cabal: he has revealed our favorite method of grading papers, and documented it with photos, no less.

Comments

  1. hipparchia says

    My professor in Marketing Research told me this story. He embellished it a little- students who wanted higher grades would staple the paper in all four corners, so the pages would meet less air resistance and flu farther.

    On a side note, I don’t know what it is with Marketing professors in Bulgaria and the Chevrolet Nova urban legend. It’s taught as legit marketing/advertising info.

  2. David Marjanović says

    And here I was thinking it went like this:

    The exams are arranged in a circle. The professor puts a tomato in the middle, takes a hammer, and pounces upon the tomato.

    Clearly the method exposed here is a more parsimonious explanation for a range of interesting observations, like how some professors produce grades arranged in a bell curve that centers on the D instead of on the C.

  3. David Marjanović says

    And here I was thinking it went like this:

    The exams are arranged in a circle. The professor puts a tomato in the middle, takes a hammer, and pounces upon the tomato.

    Clearly the method exposed here is a more parsimonious explanation for a range of interesting observations, like how some professors produce grades arranged in a bell curve that centers on the D instead of on the C.

  4. says

    This one is old – it was even submitted for the last year’s Science Blogging Anthology (but did not make it in the end).

  5. Kat says

    This is an age-old method which has been in use at Oxford University since time immomorial, and has clearly been adopted by an upstart Yank establishment!

  6. Graculus says

    My Latin prof swore by the dartboard method. Something about “beer”.

  7. Psychodelict says

    A common variation on this method that avoids the arrogant application of fallible human knowledge involves invoking an Intelligent Grader. I simply throw all the papers as high as I can into the air, the IG scoops up those that are pleasing enough to receive an A+, and any papers that eventually fall to earth are randomly assigned other grades, respecting a normal distribution. Some students have commented about the relative paucity of very high grades, particularly on windless days, but I point out that the IG moves in mysterious ways, and in any case it was their choice to attend a secular institution in a nice climate.

  8. Paul says

    I always thought the professors either counted pages or, if the technology was available, weighed the papers on a scale. Thus the more weighty the paper, the higher the grade.

    This method has sunce been co-opted by bank loan underwiters.

  9. frau_im_mond says

    You mean I paid all those bribes for NOTHING? Good thing they were all in counterfeit bills :-)

  10. aequidens says

    But who actually goes up and down the stairs and picks up the papers and decides which step they were on?
    I’m guessing that’s where the grad student comes in?

  11. says

    Hilarious post by Solove, but there’s one really sad point:

    He felt compelled to issue a DISCLAIMER at the end, explaining that the whole thing was a gag. Yes, he made a further joke out of the explanation, but he clearly recognized that some people believe everything they read.

  12. says

    One of LotStreetWiz’s MBA professors claimed to have embellished the stairway method (lowest grades at the bottom) by letting his cats play on the papers for a while before assigning grades.

    I believe that the students took it as a good-humoured warning that he marked fairly “hard” and to work harder in his class if they wanted a high grade.

  13. says

    Aha! I knew it! That’s why i always try to write a lot of nonsense as fast as I can. That way my paper will weigh more, and be at the bottom of the stack- thus falling first.

    So far it’s worked fine :)

  14. khan says

    I heard an urban legend about a professor grading this way back when I was in college (68-72).

  15. A. non says

    The stair method is advanced but not perfect–it requires exercise.

    Here is a better method:

    1) Give the first third of the students a C and the rest a B grade.

    2) Some students will get grades too low and bring their papers back. You have two choices. Either grade these papers or blindly bump them up a grade.

    Under this system a handful of students will get grades too high, but no system’s perfect.

  16. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    My Latin prof swore by the dartboard method. Something about “beer”.

    Unfortunately you can’t grade papers by trivial but fair methods, because the absence of corrections gives it away. You actually have to read them.

    The beer is a necessary means for forgetting afterwards, and as anesthetics for the paper cuts et cetera. Doing it well, you will even forget returning the darn things. If caught out, just mumble something about “needed to change cat litter” while looking for the nearest exit.

  17. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    My Latin prof swore by the dartboard method. Something about “beer”.

    Unfortunately you can’t grade papers by trivial but fair methods, because the absence of corrections gives it away. You actually have to read them.

    The beer is a necessary means for forgetting afterwards, and as anesthetics for the paper cuts et cetera. Doing it well, you will even forget returning the darn things. If caught out, just mumble something about “needed to change cat litter” while looking for the nearest exit.

  18. David Marjanović says

    Unfortunately you can’t grade papers by trivial but fair methods, because the absence of corrections gives it away.

    The tomato method would clearly help here.

  19. David Marjanović says

    Unfortunately you can’t grade papers by trivial but fair methods, because the absence of corrections gives it away.

    The tomato method would clearly help here.

  20. Moses says

    It’s obviously an urban legend. Grading papers is the purpose of the GA. Also, doing primary research, making slide shows (my age is showing), and figuring out clever ways to circumvent apparent anonymity in surveys when what’s be surveyed isn’t just what’s in the survey. :)

  21. says

    Mom had a simple method for assigning a grade. When she couldn’t understand what you were trying to say, you got an F.

    Yes, she judged you on comprehensibility.