Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Multiple Choice Quiz

Student A, who describes himself as black and Hispanic, receives a 98 on a statistics test; his professor also writes “excellent” beneath the grade. Student A peers at the tests of blonde, blue-eyed Students B and C, both of whom have told him their parents are WASPs. They both received grades of 100, but the professor—at least as far as Student A can see based on his (seemingly improper) peeking at their exams—did not write “excellent” beneath their grades.

What does the above scenario indicate?

a.) The professor liked Student A, and didn’t particularly like Students B or C.

b.) Student A’s test score was a dramatic improvement from his previous performance, so the professor wanted to give him particular encouragement, while Students B and C had been consistently excellent.

c.) Student A’s exam had been on the top of the pile, while those of Students B and C were on the bottom. The professor got progressively more tired as she graded the exams, and by the time she got to the bottom of the pile, simply indicated grades without any additional commentary.

d.) The professor’s implied message was that scoring a 98 was exceptional for Student A because he's black and Hispanic, but not for the white students.

If you answered a, b, or c, you might console yourself for having common sense—but you should also immediately withdraw your application from any Group of 88-dominated department at Duke.

In the scenario above, Student A was none other than Group of 88 extremist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva; and he recounted the story, with option (d) as his explanation for the event, to the Duke Public Relations office for its article commemorating him and fellow 88’er Paula McClain as two of the three members of the entire Duke faculty singled out for their “mentoring” of Ph.D. students.

Obviously, “mentoring” in this case means training students to be extraordinarily sensitive to any potential racial, ethnic, sexist, or heterosexist slight, no matter how remote the probability.

As for Student Bonilla-Silva’s statistics professor: she should learn from this episode that no good deed goes unpunished, and should remember that the next time she wants to praise a student for a job well done, she might be setting herself up to be attacked as a covert racist.


Anonymous said...

Or she could learn to drink the koolaide and become a overt racist and set the agenda.

Anonymous said...

Or, it could be that a Teacher's Assistant started grading the papers, and the grading was finished by the Professor.

Or, it could be that the Professor started grading the papers, then had a TA finish the job.

Or, it could be that the Professor got a call from his or her boyfriend or girlfriend stating that the Professor was a cherished part of his/her life, started grading the papers, then got a call back from his or her partner saying that they were kidding about the "cherished part of his or her life" and wanting to break up immediately.

Or, it could be a hundred different reasons, and Bonilla Silva would have found racist intent even if the students got the same message, but with different capital letters or punctuation! (If the Professor had made the biggest no-no -- putting a smiley face in one of the "O's" in "Good Job," that would make the Professor a Nazi for sure.). MOO! Gregory

skwilli said...

Numbers are racist. Or something.

Anonymous said...

Note to self - never write anything on a student's paper ever again.

Chris Halkides said...

When I grade quizzes, if anyone gets over a 90, I write good work, but I make sure I do it for everyone or no one. I used to think I was being paranoid, but I am not sure any longer.