Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mid-term grades and grading philosophy

The students did quite well on the mid-term exam. Out of 74 that took the test half got an A or an A-.Which brings me to grading philosophy. My basic feeling is that if a student meets all the requirements I lay out for an assignment they should get an A. Ideally since I make the requirements for all the assignments clear beforehand all my students should be getting As. The fact that only a quarter of my students got an A on the mid-term shows that there is a gap between my ideal and reality. But, I have never understood grading philosophies that are done on a curve or that limits the number of As given out. Yes, I know people complain about grade inflation, but I think the concern is misplaced. First, students are better at gaming assignments today than they were several decades ago. That is they are better at taking tests even if they are not smarter or more knowledgeable. So on the basis of merit alone the grades should be higher. Second, I do not feel any obligation to provide a differentiated scale for judging students to future employers. If the fact that a quarter of my students having As makes it difficult for them to choose the one or two best candidates for a job that is their problem not mine.

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