Appealing Physics

  • Mines
The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 14 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

I didn’t fail Physics, I just didn’t pass. I’m currently in the purgatory called PRG (or grade in progress). It’s really a shitty place to be and I am desperately trying to get out.

Here’s the way it works. There are certain classes (Calc I, Calc II, and Physics I to be exact) that you must get a C or higher to pass the class the first time. If you get a D, then you PRG. If you get an F, well then you get an F (and fail). You are then forced to take the class a second time. However, you only have to get a D or higher. It’s crap.

But it gets even worse. ALL of our Physics exams were graded as a binary answer. You either got it right, or you didn’t. It was frustrating because even one little error can cause your entire equation to be off and you receive not credit for it, even though it was 99% correct. I’m not even a fucking physics major!

So I broke out my 2005-2006 Student Handbook and looked up the PRG’s. There is a way to appeal them and that’s what I’m doing. I started the dice rolling last night by officially petitioning my grade to Chris Kelso, the teacher. No go. The next step is to appeal to the faculty senate. So that’s what I’m going to be working on. My argument will be this:

  • While the entire physics grading system is not flawed, the exam grading is flawed.
  • The exam grading became flawed in an effort to reduce the amount of grading the instructors need to do, they simply assign a single binary answer to multi-part question.
  • Because of the flaw in the exam grading, my grade was severely affected.
  • This is actually the second time I have taken physics. I took it previously my third semester of high school (present high school transcript showing grade).
  • On my Physics SAT II test, I scored a 650 (present SAT II document)
  • Because of the flaw in exam grading system, my conceptual knowledge of physics as well as my practical knowledge of physics was severely misrepresented.
  • The exact same in-class test was given at the beginning and the end of the semester. The test dealt strictly with conceptual concepts of physics. At the beginning of the semester, I scored a 62/100. At the end of the semester, I scored a 90/100.
  • I am confident in my understandings of physics and my ability to solve practical problems in the future. I have talked extensively with students at Mines about the content of Physics II and that understanding Physics I is an absolute requirement.

I also might make the following points, but I haven’t decided yet:

  1. I am already a semester behind the rest of my class
  2. I have established homework buddies
  3. Am I not paying you gobs of money?
  4. I’m the chief engineering of Mines Internet Radio
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6 thoughts on “Appealing Physics”

  1. Just a note to let you know I’ve added your Countdown timer to my site, I need to keep track of when the World Cup is going to begin 🙂 Thanks for your efforts. As a UMR BSEE (formerly Missouri School of Mines) I know your pain. Certainly glad “I are a graduate”.

  2. what is the class average? if it is 2.0 or above then saying it is too hard which is what you are saying by flawed then you are wrong.

  3. I don’t know what the class average is.

    However, I’m not saying that the class is too hard. I’m asking, rhetorically, what they are trying to measure with the exams: my ability to take a test or my understanding of physics.

    If they are trying to see how well I can take a test, well then I fail.

    However, I assume that they really want to know how well I understand physics. Unfortunately, the testing method used to determine that is flawed.

  4. Peter, that sentence made no sense.

    I think what you were trying to say is that if Andrew is graded relative to the other students in the class (this is mistakenly called a “curve” sometimes), then the grading is fair.

    And I talked with him about it, and he said that was not the case.

  5. Quinn, even if it is not graded on a “curve” it can still be fair if the grades represent a curve. Ferg, it you are building a rocket to fly to the moon and you miss calculate the angle of take off by 1% you would miss the moon by a lot, In the real life it is often the case that if you have one small part of a solution wrong, you fail at achieving your desired goal especially in the case of something as concrete as physics.

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