The Huffington Post recently posted an article about a former graduate student of Lehigh University who sued over a course grade of a C-plus, claiming that the grade prevented her from becoming a licensed therapist. The student, Megan Thode, sought $1.3 million in damages (the amount of money that not being a therapist would cost her during her career) and for her grade to be changed to a B. The judge ruled against Thode in the case.
Thode’s C was the result of her being awarded zero out of 25 participation points in the class—a grade she said was given to her because she supports gay marriage. However, her teacher said the grade was because of Thode’s classroom behavior.
This raises a few questions: Was Thode’s lawsuit ridiculous? Did her teacher clearly define the participation required of her students? Should any grades be based on the subjective opinions of teachers? Should students be able to request the change of a grade through their school?
I’m not surprised the judge ruled against Thode in this case. I can’t know the amount of or type of participation that Thode actually engaged in without being in the class. I’m sure there are some teachers that do abuse their power and give unfair grades. Even if the teacher gave her a zero for completely unfair reasons, Thode’s request for $1.3 million and a grade change was asking a lot. If anything she could ask for a chance to retake the class.
Another thing to consider is that although Thode’s grade may have been unfair, almost every student at some point feels that they received a lower grade than they deserved. If she was given a grade change and all of that money the courts would be flooded with students’ lawsuits. People have different opinions and perspectives so life will not always seem fair.
As long as a teacher clearly defines what participation means, I don’t see a problem with that being a part of the grade. For some classes, like Thode’s therapy course, it could be very important. Other classes, like math, might be graded entirely objectively.
If Thode received all A’s and this one C, then maybe her teacher was unfair in grading. But if that were the case, I don’t know that this one C would keep her from becoming a therapist. Maybe it would. Thoughts?