When you are marked down by a professor

Low marks are among the worst experiences of a student in the classroom. You feel crushed at the sight of a D- or something lower on your answer script. I don’t know about you. For me, whenever this happens, I go through a cycle of emotions. My first reaction is anger at the professor. Why does he or she hate me this much? After the class, my mood changes from anger to sadness, and from sadness to something like momentary depression. Is it because I am not really good enough? Is it because I am a believer? How is it that others get it right and I don’t? After a day or two, and depending on how I am doing on other courses and activities, I find myself gradually studying the professor’s comments and trying to figure out why my mark was low.

A more perplexing situation is when attitudes, biases and perspectives influence how a professor grades a student’s paper. Some professors secretly use the power of marks to solicit various forms of favor from students in ways that are not easily detected by the quality control processes of many universities. This causes a lot of anxiety to Christian students for good reasons. How many Christian students have not heard this dreaded question, “How do you think you are going to pass this course with that sort of viewpoint? ” in biology, politics, psychology and other classes?

Chapter 7 of Facing Intellectual Giants contains practical guidelines on how to avoid being marked down by a professor because of your faith. Other useful resources on this subject are “How to survive a hostile professor” by Gene Edward Veith and articles by A.P. Galling about how to answer questions in the classroom on controversial subjects and surviving secular colleges by Jason Lisle.