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Emergent questions about grades

So.

Grades are in.

Why is it that there are more thirteenth-hour questions than there were eleventh-hour ones?

I mean, I know I try to put students at ease when they needn't be alarmed, just because some of them are very antsy, and some are just a little insecure. Some students should be worried, though! To wit: grad students on the brink of a C or undergrads on the brink of a D or F should hit the books (or come and check on missing homeworks or their absolute standing) before the final. It's easy to say "I didn't see a grade posting, so I just guessed (read: assumed) I was okay"; it's quite another to know you only turned in half the assignments or turned the hour exams in half blank and then count on the curve.

... right?

--
Banazir

Comments

jadziadax
May. 22nd, 2006 07:10 am (UTC)
Curve does depend on context, if a "large" curve is needed, because either the class wasn't taught properly, or for another reason, in other words, a large curve is justified then so be it.

The class I'm irked with had 29% of the students who got A's without any curve, the class average was a 78.7%. Most professors I know will give a curve if the average is below a 75 or a 70%.

If the class average is a 53% (like a class my Math major friend took last year), then I say 1)something is wrong with the class and 2)a curve is warrented, but not at a 78.7%
jadziadax
May. 22nd, 2006 07:12 am (UTC)
I should also add, I normally don't have a problem with a huge curve, I've benefited (happily) from them before. It's when a student does a crapload of extra credit work at the end of the semester AND doing substandard work during the semester (and not going to get help) AND fails the final that I have a problem with them getting an A.

If you're really trying, hey, that's a whole 'nother story.
zaimoni
May. 22nd, 2006 08:22 am (UTC)
Class average 53%...I've seen worse in KSU MATH. But there are two or three professors I respect (e.g., Saeki) that could do that in a mid-level course without doing anything wrong. (They just grade hard...very good for learning what a proof is. Saeki crushed my first semester of grad school GPA, but it was worth it.)

In low-level, I saw was a College Algebra with a 65% average...after dropping the one-third of scores less than 40/100. I felt this addendum deserved elevation from fine print. (Got rid of 1/3rd of my section...but really, there was no point leading them on a charade.)
banazir
May. 22nd, 2006 03:42 pm (UTC)
Grade inflation and dropping flunkers
At UIUC there is a feature of Rob Hasker's famous gradebook program gr, a version of which you can still find, with source code IIRC, on the net, that does "min > 0". This drops the no-shows on homeworks and midterms, even if they are still in the course.

In general, I think this is meaningful, and dropping 10%-ers and 30%-ers is less so.

My dad favored the "square root times 10" curve at National Taiwan University - I've never used it, but there is some sense to it, too.

Bottom line: a nonlinear scaling of grades is OK, as is lowering the cutoffs for A/B/C/D to 850/700/550/400 as I do. It's when you can pass, or earn a C, for having done no work, and just being qualified to come in the door, that I object.

--
Banazir

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