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What Do Grades Mean (at two different universities)?

Teaching at two very different universities, (one private, one public) for the past twenty years, has been one of the biggest joys and greatest challenges of my life. It’s also almost impossible to not compare the two places. Though there are many similarities among the students I teach, the disparities are stark. There is so much I could write about that, and one day I will. But right now I want to talk specifically about students’ concepts of grades.

Exceptions to every rule and all that, yes, but generally my students at the private university are highly grade conscious. Generally, my students at the public university are not. Students at one university tend to expect As and believe they deserve them, often regardless of effort or skill. And they frequently beg me to tell them how they can “get a better grade”after they’ve received a B+ or even A-. They do this often in tears, and sometimes with hostility, even as they point to my rubric and the criteria explaining what a successful paper looks like. …


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My three sons and partner at one of the many marches we’ve attended.

Stories and Power

One night last fall my partner and I packed up our three young sons, ages 12, 10, and 8 and drove from Brooklyn, NY to Washington D.C. in the middle of the night.

Like many people in the U.S. last October, we had decided that it was crucial to go to the capitol to show our support for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who would be testifying before congress the next day — to show our support for all survivors of sexual assault. …


Image for post
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My three sons and partner at one of the many marches we’ve attended with them.

Stories and Power

One night last fall my partner and I packed up our three young sons, ages 12, 10, and 8 and drove from Brooklyn, NY to Washington D.C. in the middle of the night.

Like many people in the U.S. last October, we had decided that it was crucial to go to the capitol to show our support for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford who would be testifying before congress the next day — to show our support for all survivors of sexual assault. …

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