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Friday, January 28, 2022

Talking trash about your professor won’t get you that A

In the wake of the statistics exam came a slew of angry messages. It was another test that hundreds of students spent hours studying for, starting early in the day and ending late in the night. The material wasn’t meant to be easy, but many felt that it wasn’t meant to be so hard.

Putting in a lot of work to get a good grade and not getting that grade can be frustrating. Students study hard in school and are sometimes still met with unsatisfactory grades, leaving them to feel like they deserved a better grade. But too frequently, students blame their professor for their bad grades.

“The questions were worded unfairly.”

“How do they expect us to do well on these tests when they barely teach us half of it?”

“She just wants to see us fail.”

All of these remarks, in addition to more comments too inappropriate to publish, are common lines I’ve heard after each midterm and final season. Students will do anything to avoid admitting that an exam was difficult because they were unprepared, so they hold their professors accountable. Airing woes through enraged texts and heated conversations seems to be the best way to forget about difficult assessments.

This phenomenon may be explained through the social psychology idea of the self-serving bias. People have a tendency to attribute their successes to internal factors, like their abilities and efforts, and attribute their failures to external factors, like the situation. By using the self-serving bias, people preserve their high self-esteems in order to maintain favorable perceptions of themselves. The self-serving bias is used very frequently in school when it comes to exams. When students ace their tests, they will give themselves a pat on the back and reward themselves for their dedication and good study habits. But when they fail, it is someone or something else’s fault. Tricky questions, limited time and spiteful teachers are the suspected causes of the failure.

Students describe the instructors of their harder classes as cunning and devilish. In their eyes, these teachers hate students and will do anything to prevent success in their courses. Students think that receiving a bad grade is the fault of the professor, and fail to recognize that the material is tough and more could have been done to receive a good grade. People often are willing to blame anyone but themselves for not taking the time to be able to succeed.

Psychological explanations aside, putting professors down without sufficient reason is a bad practice. It might get the intended result of letting out frustration in the moment, but it won’t change your grade. If anything, it could cause you more problems than when you started. Succeeding and getting your desired grade can only be done through more effort and studying for the next exam.

Beyond school, everyone will have to deal with circumstances one might find unfair. Burdensome situations will have to be dealt with in any job, bosses might be too strict or specific. Some people in life will deserve a snide comment or a warning to others to not take the class. However, most college professors are in their occupation because they are experts and want to spread their knowledge to future generations. They are less vindictive than some struggling college students would lead you to believe.

Next time you’re less than thrilled with your grade, take a step back and a deep breath. Think about why you received the grade you did and what you can learn from the whole ordeal. It might help you save face for the next assignment.

Molly Chepenik is a UF journalism sophomore. Her column normally appears on Wednesday.

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