RFC: Appeal to the Faculty Affairs Committee

The times they are a-changin’.

This post seems to be older than 18 years—a long time on the internet. It might be outdated.

I typed this up on the plane last night. It’s a pretty good start, but still only my first draft. I hope to have a final draft finished within a week so that I can get it sent off to the Faculty Senate in time for them to rule before the next semester starts. They have 15 days to reach a decision after they recieve my appeal.

RFC = Request for Comment. If you have some free time, take a look at what I’ve written and feel free to provide feedback, even if it’s critical. The better my argument, the better my chance for appeal.

Faculty Affairs Committee of the Faculty Senate,

If, after reading my appeal, any member of the Faculty Affairs Committee has further questions or requires further explanation of anything that I have presented, please do not hesitate to contact me; either by phone at (206) 948-1701 or by email at aferguso ÅT mines ÐØt edu.

I, Andrew James Ferguson (CWID XXXXXXXX), herby appeal the grade assigned in the class PHGN 100 (“Physics I”) for the Fall 2005 Semester at The Colorado School of Mines.

From page thirty (30) of The Colorado School of Mines 2005-2006 Undergraduate Bulletin:

In evaluating a grade appeal, the Faculty Affairs Committee will place the burden of proof on the student. For a grade to be revised by the Faculty Affairs Committee, the student must demonstrate that the grading decision was unfair by documenting that one
or more of the following conditions applied:

1. The grading decision was based on something other than course performance, unless the grade was a result of penalty for academic dishonesty.
2. The grading decision was based on standards that were unreasonably different from those applied to other students in the same section of that course.
3. The grading decision was based on standards that differed substantially and unreasonably from those previously articulated by the instructor.

I will be documenting condition number one (1), “The grading decision was based on something other than course performance, unless the grade was a result of penalty for academic dishonesty,” referred to here on out as “The Condition”.

I have been assigned the grade of PRG, or Grade in Progress. I wish to appeal this grade to receive a grade that would allow me to continue to PHGN 200 (“Physics II”) for the Spring 2006 Semester.

The Condition can be broken into two parts. The first part of The Condition states that: The grading decision was based on something other than course performance. The second part of The Condition: unless the grade was a result of penalty for academic dishonesty, is an excluder that prohibits appealing the grade if a student was academically dishonest the class.

To absolve myself of the second part of The Condition, I would like to direct the attention of the Faculty Affairs Committee to a signed letter from Christopher Kelso, the instructor of the Physics I section that I was in, indicating the grade I have received was not due to academic dishonesty.

Exam Two and Exam Three, as well as a portion of Exam One was taken on-line using the Learning Online Network – Computer Assisted Personalized Approach, or LON-CAPA. Exam Four is unavailable because while it was generated using LON-CAPA, it not actually taken online.

I would like to direct the attention of the Faculty Affairs Committee to two (2) attached exams from Physics I for the Fall 2005 Semester; Exam Two and Exam Three. Each problem that was on the exams attached was graded in a binary fashion: it was either right or wrong. The work for any given problem on either exam could have been 99% correct, however if the final outcome is incorrect, the problem is considered wrong and is NOT REFLECTIVE OF THE ACTUAL COURSE PERFORMANCE. Instead, the exams reflect whether or a not a student has perfect knowledge of Physics I. In short, the system of examination for Physics I is severely flawed and not indicative of actual course performance.

Furthermore, the decision to implement LON-CAPA to give and grade exams (and thus introduce a flaw into the Physics I grading scheme) is recent, within the last 2 semesters. The exam flaw was a direct result of an attempt to reduce the amount of grading that the course instructions and associated teaching assistants needed to complete. While I sympathize with the instructors and teaching assistants, I believe that it is paramount to allow the students to demonstrate their ability of the comprehension of Physics I. Each student indubitably has a slightly different method for learning and Physics I and demonstrating his or her comprehension of Physics I.

As proof of my actual Physics I comprehension, both conceptual and practical, I would like to direct the attention of the Faculty Affairs Committee towards the attached Physic SAT II score and the attached transcript from Seattle Academy of the Arts and Sciences, the high school I attended. As you see, I garnered a score of 650 out of 800 (81.25%) on the Physics SAT II exam.

I also attained a grade of A in my physics class in high school. In the interest of full disclosure, the physics course taught at Seattle Academy is algebra based, rather than calculus based. However, I had taken calculus I the year previous to taking physics. I understood the integration of physics and calculus and was able to successfully use calculus techniques in my physics class, despite the fact that it was taught from an algebraic standpoint.

Additionally, the exact same in-class test was given at the beginning and the end of the semester. The test dealt strictly with the conceptual concepts of physics. At the beginning of the semester, I scored a 62/100 (62%). At the end of the semester, I scored a 90/100 (90%).
I have shown that that a flaw in the Physics I exam grading system exists that is not related to my performance in the class. I have shown that such a flaw cannot allow the grading decision to be based on something other than course performance and that the flaw has severely misrepresented my actual conceptual knowledge of physics as well as my actual practical knowledge of physics. I have shown that I posses the conceptual and practical knowledge of Physics I. I have shown that the grade was not a result of penalty for academic dishonesty. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Respectfully yours,

Andrew Ferguson