“Grade-bumping” Can Widen Equity Gaps

This is often the time of the semester when faculty receive emails from students asking for a “grade bump” (i.e. – a student asks for a favor such as their grade of 89.4% be rounded up to a 90% to get an A). Should you deny the request and stick to the point structure on your syllabus? Doing so can result in guilt-inducing responses from students about losing scholarships, being ineligible for sports, or not getting into med school. This decision is, of course, totally up to you but granting an unearned grade bump, just because a student asked for it, can widen equity gaps. That is, it rewards only the students with the audacity to ask you for the favor. Many students, including First-Gen and under-represented minorities, may lack either the cultural awareness or the boldness to ask for a grade bump and thus they may end up with lower grades in the class simply because they accepted the grade they earned. To be clear, if a student has a concern about a calculation error in their grade, it deserves a closer look. There is a clear distinction, however, between asking for grade clarification and asking for a grade boost.

One thought on ““Grade-bumping” Can Widen Equity Gaps

  1. gotta agree; hadn’t thought of it in relation to the equity gap, just as a general integrity issue

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