Friday, November 9, 2007

Bad email from real-life

Since it's 4 AM and I'm still awake, I thought I would post the following for your reading pleasure. Don't even get me started on the circumstances surrounding these emails... It was not pretty. All "incriminating" details have been Xxx-ed, Yyy-ed, or ###-ed out so you don't know to whom this email was written, or when. It doesn't matter, really. It's just that bad. Let me know if you think I should bring it in to class - I know we've kind of beaten the bad examples thing into the dust, but I think this is just priceless. That could be because I know the situation so well, though, which is why I welcome your thoughts. How about a vote?

It is a bit long and it does get a bit complicated, though. Bear with me... And without further ado...

Dear Professor Xxx,

I'm a student in your Yyy course. Today in class you announced that our final exam (50% of our mark) will not be held during the exam period, but will be held on the last two days of class (March #, and April #), and will be composed of 3 parts:
1. A "final exam assignment" (worth 20% of our final grade, to be handed in on April #),
2. A "final exam quiz" (worth 20% of our final grade, to be held in class on March #), and
3. A "final exam group presentation" (worth 10% of our final grade, to be presented on April #, barring any conflict with religious holidays).

Today at the break, I asked you why our final exam would not be held during the exam period. Your reply was that since the final examination schedule had already been published, you were unable to schedule a time during this period for our final exam to be held. You also said you thought this would be more convenient for students as the exam period is such a busy time.

I would like you to know that the changes you announced today are extremely upsetting and inconvenient to me. For one thing, I will now have to temporarily (for the next three weeks) stop work at my part time job in order to complete the new assignments you announced today. This presents a financial hardship for me as I am counting on my employment income to cover tuition costs for my summer course.

In addition, in the other four courses I am currently taking, I have to prepare for 4 examinations and 2 assignments (one of them a major research paper) all of which fall due during the next three weeks of class. I planned my academic work this semester based on when my assignments and exams were scheduled. Obviously, with only three weeks left in the semester, I cannot go back 3 months and replan my work to allow time for the added work you have assigned in these last three weeks. Your announced change leaves me no opportunity to adequately prepare for the "final exam" tasks which now fall due before the exam period begins.

I feel like someone has just pulled the chair out from under me as I am about to sit down. I am really upset because I have worked hard to maintain an A average in my courses for the past two years and have made every effort to allow proper time to prepare for assignments. Now I cannot do that.


RESPONSE (only names and dates have been changed to protect the guilty):

Dear JLK:

Thanks for your message.

First of all, I would like to ensure you that no change is made in the syllabus. Because, according to syllabus, total mark for the final exam work is 50%. Also, as a matter of fact, utmost efforts have been made so that the students can complete their final exam works with comfort and convenience but without compromising their learning requirements. For example: the total number of chapters to be considered for the final exam has been reduced to half (from 10 to 5), and the length and contents of the written exam is also reduced to one-third (from 3 hours to 1 hour). Also, in oppose to memorizing and writing essays on the materials of the 5 chapters in the exam, I have given you the opportunity to write the “open-book”assignments in 3 weeks time which are nothing but doing home exercises on the materials of the 5 chapters as provided with the textbook CD/website. These home exercises, I believe, definitely will help you to better prepare for the quiz. And, sharing of works by the group work/presentation obviously should also be useful in terms of reducing the workload/pressure, with a flexibility to do your group presentation on/at any suitable day/time in the week of April ### (not on the day of April #) which definitely will not conflict with a religious holiday.

I think you now might realize that the students will spend less time than they suppose to spend (such as, an extra day and weeks of preparation for a lengthy 3-hour exam in a strict exam hall environment). But with the present arrangement, they will write a short one-hour quiz in their own class, and the assignments are nothing but the home exercises which will also help them to better prepare for the quiz.

However, if you still have any concern or confusion, please do not hesitate to contact me for setting an appointment so that we may discuss re the matter.


What makes it worse is that this exact email was sent, word-for-word, to another student in the same class, who copied me on it. Only the name was changed; everything else was identical. So what do you think - should I bring it in to class?


laulan said...

This is pretty bad. I think we could discuss this in class, if Sabine can make time for it. You should ask her before class or email it to her and ask if she wants to go over it in class.

Prisci said...

Wow! I can believe how bad this is! honestly,,, what dumbstruck me most was how he went Cheers! at the end!!
omg!!! oh thats rude!!! What a jerk! pardon mon francais.....

yeah that be interesting to discuss in class!
Good luck with that course Kate!!

Arvindi said...

I can't believe the prof thought so highly of this email, that he/she sent it out multiple times!
P.S. I agree, the cheers! was classic.

Kate said...

Thanks for your feedback, ladies. I talked to Sabine about it and emailed her a copy - I think she might include it when we review for the final exam. The "cheers" certainly rubbed me the wrong way, too! Honestly!