Students speak out on UAlberta grades dispute

Mixed reactions about math prof who's grades were lowered by department

To follow up on my earlier post on the dispute between math professor Mikhail Kovalyov and the University of Alberta, I was recently able to get in contact with some of the students who Kovalyov had emailed criticizing the math department for lowering their grades and encouraging them to appeal their marks. Those emails, it will be recalled, ultimately resulted in the university relieving Kovalyov of his teaching duties and asking for his resignation. Reactions from his students are mixed.

Rylee Machula, whose grade was lowered from a C to an F, said that while he found Kovalyov’s emails “childish,” he opposed the administration’s decision to alter the class average.  “The changes should never have happened. It wasn’t their place,” he said. The geology student later launched a successful appeal, raising his final mark for the first-year math class to a D.

Yasin Isse, whose grade was lowered from a B- to a C+ appealed his grade after Kovalyov had emailed the class, but in his case the appeal was denied. “It was a long process and the university did take necessary measures to try to resolve the conflict by getting a different person to examine the situation and answer each students’ claims specifically,” he said.

Isse added that the various emails he received from both Kovalyov and administrators became confusing. “It got to the point that I did not know who was telling the truth . . ., it just took too much effort and time to digest all the material and really understand the situation,” he said. Of Kovalyov, Isse said that “it is a shame he had to leave.”

Other students were content with their final mark. “I got a B- in the class and that’s honestly no more or no less than what I feel I deserved” Jeffrey Lafleche, a student in the faculty of education, said. Lafleche said he felt “pretty cynical” about the appeal process and “figured it would be a waste of time.”

Related: ‘there doesn’t seem much point to professors handing out grades at all’

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