Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Grades - rethinking

I have been grading my class so that students who do all the work reasonably well get an A. I have a problem with this and grade inflation in general. On the other hand, online classes are difficult and there is a lot work involved in completing all the assignments. There is a high drop rate - either students drop or I drop them for "absences" / non-participation. Most quarters there are a few students who stick with the course and don't get an A.

Reading this course outline got me thinking about how I grade. I'm going to revise the criteria somewhat so that the A's go only to the exceptional students. They deserve to be rewarded. There will be some unhappy campers who "only" get a B, but I think that is more appropriate for most students who do all the work, but don't knock my socks off.

F is a very bad grade. It means you failed to demonstrate sufficient mastery of the material to pass the course.

D is also a bad grade, but you at least passed the course, although with some work missing or significantly worse than average performance. D's, like F's, often have unpleasant consequences (academic probation, delayed graduation, etc.) such as failure to enter the Communication program as a major. Please know that we will not (and, ethically, cannot) be influenced by these unfortunate but preventable effects on your academic career.

C is a good grade. It means that you passed. You met all of the expectations for students noted in this syllabus, and you did all of the required work at a level of competence that was comparable to most of the others in the class.

B is a very good grade. It means you did all of the required work and performed in class at a level that was noticeably and demonstrably superior to many of your classmates.

A is an extremely good grade. "A" means that your work and performance were consistently better than that of nearly everyone else in the class. Many people today seem to confuse the criteria for A's with the criteria for C's. But if "A" means that you merely did what you were asked to do, it is no different than "C," and it therefore means nothing at all, to you or anyone else. Call us old-fashioned, call us hard-nosed, but don't call us to wail about the A you didn't get unless you have an extremely good case.


Note: I was ready to post to faculty.deanza.edu but there was no there there. Arg! What is the good of having a faculty web site that you can't update when you want to.

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