Author Archives: bizcombuzz

Grade Justification Assignment

Instructors: Having students evaluate their own performance is an excellent way for them to think about what they have learned throughout the course while also demonstrating their grasp of business communication. We include a sample you can share with your students.

Now that you have spent a semester learning about business communication, write your instructor an e-mail in which you justify the grade you think you should receive. Include specifics about graded and non-graded assignments, participation, attendance, and any special efforts you have put forth during the course.

Dear Prof. _____,

In response to your request, I am writing to justify the grade I believe I have earned in this class: A-.

Throughout the term, I have consistently received a B+ and A- on all written assignments, and an A on an oral presentation for a team project. While the actual points I have earned add up to 89 percent, I feel that my consistent participation in class and outstanding attendance record should bump me up to a 90 percent, or an A-.

Moreover, while working on the group project, I took on the role of team leader, which entailed keeping four other team members on track. Perhaps the most demanding aspect of this role was working one-on-one with a nonnative speaker whose writing skills were not up to par. In addition, I designed all the slides to accompany our oral presentation on that group project.

Finally, I do not consider myself to be a strong writer, but I have worked my hardest to learn from my mistakes. As you may recall, I have been a frequent visitor to your office hours, which has helped me improve to the point where I now feel confident in my ability to enter the workplace. In fact, I have been offered a permanent job after interning at an insurance company this semester.

I hope you agree that I have truly earned an A- in this class, and I thank you for teaching me such valuable skills. Have a great summer!


Stu Dent

Has TikTok Become the New Office Watercooler?

TikTok users expect to view videos featuring adorable animals, random people singing or dancing, and, well, just about anything. But work advice, job-related grousing, and office gossip?


Since the pandemic, more and more workers have moved their work complaints from the proverbial watercooler to the popular video platform. The hashtag #careertiktok has generated 1.5 billion views and features vlogs in which workers rage, cry, and tell tales out of school.

This phenomenon points to a major shift in how and where people talk about their workplace experiences. Previously, professional work-related platforms offered posts about career milestones and successes. However, the new TikTok-as-watercooler trend allows vloggers to show their vulnerability and talk about taboo situations such as salary transparency and discrimination.

It began when employees were sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many to work in spaces not meant to be used as an office. At the same time, these isolated workers lost the perks of being in an office—free client dinners, camaraderie with office mates, office parties—and moldered in the lonely grind of work, work, work. The only place to vent was online. Even LinkedIn, the leading professional networking platform, saw an overwhelming number of posts about stress, burnout, and mental health. But TikTok quickly became the go-to outlet for disenchanted, overworked, and unhappy employees.

Then, as businesses slowly reopened but many continued to work remotely, the need for work-related content on social platforms skyrocketed as a means to take the place of in-person contact. A new job category, “workfluencers,” even appeared. These people create content and include behind-the-scenes information about jobs and fields and are often tell-alls. But while such sharing can be lucrative—workfluencers often hawk products, subscriptions, and services to increase their own bottom lines—it can have downsides. Many organizations consider social media creators both a blessing and a curse, pointing out that while a single voice can carry a great deal of power, that power can get others interested or just as easily uninterested in a company.

Other repercussions have occurred, not the least of which is a lack of professionalism. Take the case of “the crying CEO,” who posted a photo of himself sobbing after he laid off staff. His desire to share may have come from an honest emotion, but social media trolls called him “disgusting,” and “self-serving.” Another employee who boasted about the many perks at her company prompted derisive comments, including one from a venture capitalist who wrote, “Doesn’t anyone still work?”

Sharing—or oversharing—about a job can also lead to more dire consequences. A woman who posted about her job at Meta disturbed her employer so much that it launched investigations into her complaints, leaving her so humiliated that she quit.

The bottom line is that just because one can do something—like post a video or share compromising information or opinions—doesn’t mean one should.


  1. Why could having a large following on TikTok be a mixed blessing?
  2. What are some topics that should be avoided on social networks and why?
  3. Why should a new employee become well versed in the organization’s policies on sharing publicly on social media?

Based on Rice, M. (2022, November 10.) The rise of the ‘workfluencer.” Business Insider. Retrieved from

Is ‘Ungrading’ for You?


Articles and social media are buzzing about a trend called ”ungrading,“ a practice in which feedback and reflection replace assigning points or letter grades to student work.

In the ungrading classroom, written and/or oral feedback is tied to a course’s learning objectives and focuses on what could be improved moving forward. Additionally, ungrading calls upon students to self-evaluate, making them responsible for understanding the material and understanding that they understand, i.e. adding metacognition to the pedagogy.

While instructor workload and systemic administrative procedures such as assigning grades at the end of a course provide valid reasons against ungrading, adherents of the learning strategy believe the practice is more student-centered. One professor who hasn’t graded in 20 years goes so far as to say that grades “frustrate intrinsic motivation” and continues to use ungrading as a way to encourage deeper learning.

Of course, most adopters of the ungrading philosophy must assign final marks, and these instructors have come up with a variety of methods to do so. One way is the self-evaluation, which hinges on the belief that students are the best monitors of their own learning. Therefore, requiring them to write about their work and comment on their own progress is a more valid measure of true learning. In this scenario, some instructors have students justify their own grades with the proviso that the instructor may change those grades.

Other evaluative protocols include the portfolio assessment, which uses an entire semester’s work to appraise the trajectory of a student’s learning. This method has the benefit of acknowledging that students begin the course with differing knowledge and skill levels. Another way to assign grades using is specification grading. This modality uses a binary approach to grade assignments—pass/fail or satisfactory/unsatisfactory. However, at the beginning of the semester students choose which letter grade they want at the end of the term. To earn the chosen mark, students complete bundled assignments that increase in number and difficulty the higher the desired grade. All assignments contain grading specifications the work must meet. Instructors do not assign points when grading but do provide feedback explaining why or why not the work was acceptable. Instructors who opt for this type of assessment say students take ownership of the grading process, which provides buy-in and motivation.

Undoubtedly, writing instructors would have to believe strongly in the merits of ungrading to adopt such a novel approach. Below are some of its pros and cons.


  • Ungrading shifts the focus to the what and why of learning instead of focusing on grades.
  • Research suggests that ungrading reduces students’ stress and promotes good learning habits.
  • Work performance evaluations, which look toward improvements in the future, are more akin to ungrading, especially in business.


  • All students may not possess the ability to accurately self-evaluate.
  • Learners from less privileged backgrounds may not benefit from the removal of traditional grading guideposts.
  • Students are left on their own to figure out how their work could be improved or why when a simple “meets objectives” evaluation is assigned rather than a letter grade.
  • Writing instructors already provide copious commentary on assignments, and adding more to an already substantial grading burden could cause burnout.

We all know the current grading system is fraught with problems. Whether ungrading is the answer is up to the individual to decide.


Kenyon, A. (2022, September 21). What is ungrading? Duke Learning Innovation. Retrieved from

Stommel, J. (2020, February 6.) Ungrading: an FAQ. Retrieved from

Talbert, R. (2022, April 27.) What I’ve learned from ungrading. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from