Almost done with genetics!

After a harrowing weekend of grading exams and lab reports, I’m kinda sorta done. All that’s left is the potential for revising lab reports, and an optional final exam (it replaces your lowest exam score; it’s more of a hedge for students who had one bad day or an unavoidable absence). Today I’m handing everything back with a summary of their tentative final grade (cue howls and gnashing and wailing), and doing a post-mortem of the last exam, which had the standard bimodal grade distribution — either students sailed through it, laughing at how easy it was, or they missed key concepts and melted down completely (cue more howls, wailing, etc.).

The results do rather mess up my plans for the last lecture on Wednesday. I was hoping to do something more advanced and give them a peek at where they can go with genetics, but instead I think I’m going to have to pick 20% of the class up off the floor and review the basics, so they can possibly pass the course with a successful surge on the final. That’s disappointing, but I have to make sure people who pass my course are at least somewhat capable on the topic.

Anyway, the current statistics: the mean on the last exam was the lowest so far this term, at 66%, or roughly a C-. Overall in the course 4 students so far, out of 31, have earned an A. A few more might join those exalted ranks by doing well on the final.

Also, more fun: today is the day for student evaluations. I try to do this after I’ve broken the news to them about their tentative final grade, which is probably a poor strategy for getting good evals but I like to think it makes for more honest ones.


  1. says

    Evidently you have yet to experience grade inflation. I gave a student a B last semester and it was like I flunked her. We aren’t quite as bad where I’m at, but 95% of Harvard students graduate cum laude.

  2. Matt Cramp says

    Whereas in Australian higher education, getting 66% is a very respectable mark.

  3. ragdish says

    What do they find most challenging? Punnett squares? For me it was the pedigree analyses. In premed I kept getting lost in those family trees to determine if the pattern was autosomal dominant or recessive.

  4. wcorvi says

    That’s the odd thing about science (physics) – my students accused me of going over their work with a fine-tooth comb, trying to find ways to take points off. In fact, I combed their work looking for reasons to GIVE them points!