The Incentives of an Economics GSI

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Today I went to my GSI’s office hours for Economics. I intended to go over my mistakes on the midterm, and submit regrade requests based on the most promising errors. He tried to dissuade me from submitting any requests, period. He warned that I could lose points if the regrade unearthed other grading errors.

My logic: if I have 0 points on a subsection, I can only improve. I must submit a regrade request because there’s no downside to the gamble.

If a GSI give contrary advice in response to this line of logic, it’s time to explore alternative motives. Here’s my guess:

  • GSI’s already debated extensively over the rubric due to a poorly written exam, and are burned out from arguing with each other and grading.
  • They’re going to have to deal with every single regrade request and want to minimize the work they have to do.

Don’t disregard well-meaning advice. My GSI is a nice guy and still one of my favorite GSI’s, period. But understanding an individual in the context of their system (in this case the office politics of GSI’s and professors) is an important step in predicting behavior and motives.

I’ve said this proverb before. It’s important enough to say again:

Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.

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