Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Poisson letters

Yes, the title was intentionally misspelled. I will write some more when I get home...


Today is the deadline for grade submission. Hope I make it.
UPDATE: I made it, with a lot of time to spare!


Before I submitted grades, I got this unusual poison letter from a student (I assume)...

from: dragon@axti.com

good day sir. won't you ask us to evaluate our groupmates according to their contribution to the project? i don't mean to bring anybody down or anything (and there's probably no way to say this without sounding like a tattletale) but it's unfair that members who didn't contribute much to the project will end up gettnig the same grade as the members who did their parts.
thank you sir.

Now, a few facts:

* - Yes, I don't ask for group evaluations under the assumption that everyone will contribute in their own fair way to the project. Not everyone will put in equal effort, but they should put in whatever is expected of them. Don't expect the average/below average student to come up with brilliant analysis. You can expect the usual (well-resourced) slacker to provide an overnight venue, unlimited food, snacks, ink and paper. Few are lucky to have good groupmates who can provide excellent input without really being a pain in the ass. In short, it is not expected that everyone will put in an equal amount of effort/work/resources but rather, it is expected that each member should contribute in the manner best suited to his/her capacity.

* - My policy is that group imbalances and snafus should be addressed at the group level. However, if something is brought to my attention, I will assume that they have tried to address it but my intervention is necessary.

* - I am not a firm believer of group evaluations per se, especially if this results in an "equal score" for everyone. Besides, the group slacker will more often than not, fail to recognize his/her own shortcomings and therefore, give a higher than actual grade for himself. Also, it would be very tedious to come up with a list of criteria that would be fair to all members in terms of what they can contribute to a project.

Having said that, I replied to my student codenamed "dragon" but alas, I got a Mail Delivery Subsystem failure message. I sent a shoutout to the student but he/she didn't approach me.

Poison letters have no use unless someone owns up to it. Until then, it will remain what it is, just a letter. I will simply reply, "Noted."

P.S.: Why Poisson letters? It was misspelled since I wanted to write about Poison letters and I got reminded of the Poisson distribution.