April 20, 2010

Grade Inflation: I’m a-g’in’ it. (I’m also a-g’in student torture).

Posted in miscellaneous other matters, teaching revelations tagged at 2:52 pm by profart

What is grade inflation about? It is about avoiding our jobs: to teach students. Don’t do it. Stand up against colleges and universities that work to support grade inflation rather than focus on student evaluation and teaching, ESPECIALLY in core or basic requirement courses.

The teacher in this article was, in my opinion, slightly extreme. Note the slightly. I think making a multiple-choice quiz with ten choices is not a good choice of testing format, and it significantly and purposely daunting to beginning students. But daily quizzes? I have no trouble with that. And if you put it in the syllabus that you are going to have daily quizzes, then kids have no right to complain when they get quizzes every day on material they should know. On the other hand, I don’t know what standards the professor was using, what questions were being asked, and how much detail the professor was expecting, which may have justified removal from the class. There is a difference between evaluation and torture, and I do not believe in torturing students.

I do, however, believe in teaching them. Yes, teaching material that is of little interest to a student when they initially walk through your door is a challenge. It is part of the great challenge of teaching- that makes it fun. If it isn’t fun for you… um, get out of teaching. Lots of other things to do in life.

Teaching is about meeting the challenge of getting students what they need and making it relevant to them. Even the best of teachers are not successful with every single student that walks through their doors. That would be a bloody miracle. Making education accessible is our job; there does come a point when the student has the responsibility to actually access it. Making it scary is not making it accessible; on the other hand, you have to evaluate students in order to help them.

Evaluation is a tool, both for the student and for the educator- a tool to evaluate progress and intellectual development. Not a tool to force students out of a class… a tool to track development, and act as a warning to help me, as the educator, adjust my delivery and explanations to fit the needs of my students.

But I don’t like it being my fault if none of them are bothering to do any work. Which, unfortunately, does happen. For some groups, material being relevant to them is beside the point to them.

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