OP/ED: Giving Professors A Letter Grade


The stress of midterms and finals are right around the corner and students are officially in their individual panic modes. The weight of these exams are typically the heaviest item on any syllabus, and with that in mind, this means that two tests directly impact all students’ lives.

This pressure shouldn’t be applied to just us, however.

Professors should be graded too. Our lives being solely impacted by grading should directly relate to the grades being distributed. For example, if a large portion of the students in one course get C’s, could it really be the fault of every one of the students?

The students who perform poorly get the negative result of a bad grade. They have to retake the course at their own expense, and their GPA drops. Professors have the negative result of having to fail their students which, depending on the individual, won’t exactly affect how they sleep at night. Yet students are directly impacted, and they are paying to be here. Whereas in rare cases, professors leave students devastated with little to no circumstances while getting paid to be here.

On the contrary, professors that perform excellently experience minimal reward. In my personal experience, I have never heard of my positive feedback that resulted in any benefit for the individual that went the extra mile to make sure I succeeded in a way that felt like it mattered.

There seems to be a bit of an imbalance here.

For example, I am a Media Studies major and have had the same professors for multiple classes. I was given a realistic example for how the field would treat my work. What would actually be acceptable and earn a spot as a published piece was rewarded, and what didn’t work was responded to with honesty, never cruelty.

This was also true for my production courses as they were some of the first hands on examples of what the field might entail. If a shot was blatantly bad, it was worked on repeatedly until the desired result was achieved. This was done in an understanding environment, with the realization that we were here to develop a skill, not as a group who already mastered one.

They each have positive feedback from any student I have ever spoken to about them, however, I have never heard of any of the professors who the students are grateful for to ever be rewarded for their efforts. There doesn’t seem to be a temporary or permanent monetary bonus for their repeated exceptional work, and when comparing this to to the limited backlash experienced when a professor does poorly, it is easily understood that great professors are left with no incentive to work.

I have had professors that likely stole their degree from someone online with their teaching strategy. Professors who largely expect you to do everything on your own with limited guidance and a text book.

I recall I had a general education professor who gave no guidelines for how she wanted the paper written. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and researched my intended section. With no guidelines, wrote my paper how I would write any other; minimal description on the piece, while expanding on the analysis of the importance it held to the time period around it.

This seemed correct to me, as I have always been told to avoid summary, which is basic, and develop an analysis which is more complex. Later a C- hits my desk, much to my surprise. The professor wanted the paper to be descriptive, “as if we were describing it to a blind person,” which is so easy that I felt like the work I would be doing was meaningless.

If she gave any form of descriptive rubric, this would not have happened.

Another professor I had basically showed a film which dominated most of the class time, and then, with no discussion of the films, we left. The course was heavily reliant on the text book, and the knowledge of large portions of the history of another country. Which was problematic, because we had to educate ourselves on history and analysis, on our own with no discussion.

If we couldn’t do it in the fifteen weeks given we failed.

I still recall getting back the first paper which resulted in a B-, but I only found one complaint on it, which was that I didn’t define a word.

That’s fun for me.

The whole class failed the exams, and I do mean every single student. With scores between 30 and 50 out of 100 being common. Papers were what saved me, and if I’m not wrong, he had to give everyone obligatory C’s, so he didn’t look bad.

It doesn’t make sense when these professors evade punishment.

Again, when a student does poorly, there is a negative result, which directly impacts their life financially, educationally, and in their intended career. This isn’t similar for professors.

When I do well, I escape the negative influence of having to pay for a class again, the dropping of my GPA, and I am one step closer to graduating with a useful degree. My professors who helped me achieve this success get nothing but the recognition of their students.

There should be a genuine, long lasting reward for those who go the distance, and punishment for those who repeatedly avoid excellence in their field. A website called ratemyprofessor.com exists, but it is more of a website where students review the professor as a warning to avoid a professor, or as a beacon to welcome a professor into their roster.

It holds no impact on the professor except for maybe how many students attend a course. Faculty Award Nominations just passed, and a positive outcome for the winners is a $1,000 reward, but this holds no residual value, as it is not a permanent bonus.

We all get those student evaluations at the end of the semester right when we are taking finals. 

But from what I suspect, they only work negatively against professors the school is looking to replace. In addition to that, we never actually see the results. I believe there should be a defined consequence and reward system, and any recognition, be it positive or negative, should be at the hands of the students who had them.

Yes I fill out the form. I check the boxes. I write notes.But I want to be able to present a grade to the professors as well. I want to be able to log in to Mercy Connect and see the faculty GPA. Maybe it’s time some of them hit the books.