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Emergent questions about grades


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?



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%
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.
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.)
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.


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