Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Grading: We All Hate It

One of my colleagues today said, "I shouldn't have to give tests in college. They should learn because they want to learn."

But they don't. So we have to. And we hate it.

Students are sweating out grades. Some need a C to have the class count. Some need a B to raise their GPA to get into the college. And I hate it all.

No part of this is about the grade. It's about knowledge. It's about ideas. But yet it's all about the grade. The damned grades.

My phone rang as I was starting to write this. It was a student asking about a grade. I love to talk to students but not about grades.

Grades suck, but they're sacred. Once Excel spits out a number, that's the grade. There is no magic. The syllabus outlines a formula. I take that formula as a contract. And according to that contract, 89.9% is a B and not an A.

Rounding is the devil. I decided a long time ago that one cannot fairly round. In my undergraduate research methods class, it takes 900 points out of 1,000 for an A. It's simple. Tally the points at the end and add them up.

But shouldn't 899 really be an A? No. It's just 1 point away. If we make 899 an A, then what about the student with an 898? Now they're just one point away! And the keen reader will note that this never ceases.

And you see that I've already spent far too much time on this topic.

Grades. I hate them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should take a more relaxed approach and not submit any grades.

Then, turn off your cell phone and unplug your office phone.

Take a nap.

Good luck.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what do we do when we have an A student whose average comes to 89.6 because she got stuck with a bad partner on a group assignment, and thus blew the final because she had to spend all her time on the project?

Big sigh.

7:33 AM  
Anonymous Sam said...

In truth, I think this is a valuable life lesson. Life is always a group project. Having bad team members usually costs far more than just a "B" rather than an "A."

The second point of the equation is to have fractional grade points. Sadly, at TTU, that 89% would be a 3.0. At Ohio State, that would be 3.3. That may not seem like much, but it gets over the problem that the person who gets an 80.0% earns the same as you. Those are totally different grades in my book.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and I hate tests.
I have one today in an hour and a half. Epidemiology.

I had forgotten about your blog, but now, I have returned!


2:23 PM  

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