Why Students Try To ‘Negotiate’ Their Assessment Grades?
By Ahmad Amirali
I still remember when I was in school and get average grades in my class tests. I try to ask the teacher why I received such grades. Even the checked paper in front of me was full of teacher’s comments. The same anxiety is taking a new shape in the form of students’ concerns, which they showed in various creative ways after they receive their tests grades. Now students share their concerns with their teachers and parents and, in some cases, even start appealing over social media like Facebook and WhatsApp. The reasons can be anything from convincing oneself that they did their level best; still, they got these marks, or they try to maintain their social reputation or even some only wat sympathising words that might cheer them up. However, the matter of concern to me is not the channels students used when they are in distress but their behaviour of appealing and complain. Why students even want to negotiate or try to request for their assessment re-grading?
I believe there are many reasons, apart from maintaining their social reputation or image. Here are some possible emotional factors that may be held responsible for students negotiating behaviour. The Belief That Everything is Negotiable. I heard this quote in several movies where a protagonist tries to convince everyone that everything has a price. In this consumer-driven world, everybody tries to shop around to see if they can get a better deal elsewhere. So the student might follow the same principle. However, I will not generalise this idea because some of what I teach focuses on negotiation tactics.
It Never Hurts to Ask Effect. I remember the student who barely complained about a passing grade (I gave him a generous C), who stopped by right at the end of the term and asked me to raise his grade to a B. When I explained to him that I had already given him a grade that was perhaps better than he deserved, he smiled and left, saying, Well, It’s worth a shot. I then hear from one of my colleagues, his previous teacher, that he even came to her last year asking the same thing.
Gaming the System. Our culture has hyped the notion of beating or gaming the system to get the desired outcome. We search for the loopholes, quick fixes, and even the cheats that will get us what we want without doing all of the work. (Previous article: Why Do Students Cheat in Exams? | The Concept of Predictable Irrationality) I think this notion has penetrated higher education in a big way. One outcome is a rise in cheating.
This mentality seems to bleed over in how students think about grades. I am often asked by students if there is some way that they can compensate for their poor test performance by writing an additional term paper or some other assignment. In other words, if you can’t conventionally beat the system, perhaps there is a different (and more natural) way to get the grade.