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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 06:33 pm (UTC)
Context is everything, and getting there is half the fun
(Comment title from a quotation by J. M. Straczynski.)

"Math-free as a foreign language"? I'm not sure I get that.

Is "C-out" an analogue of "flunk out"? If so, why? I understand that D's are now the "new F's" because of probationary ramifications of C's and D's. (They shouldn't be, IMO; F's are F's, and ramifications are there for a reason: to create a buffer for people and to give them ample warning.)

As for 60's on all exams earning an A: on the one hand, knowing how it is at a few other universities, I agree that this is a crock. On the other hand, if the whole point scale was being utilized, I could see 60-something being worth an A. Pravin Vaidya had a mean of 17% and a standard deviation of 14% on one CS 373 (Algorithms 1) midterm at UIUC; a cutoff of 60 of A in that course might have been quite reasonable. I'm guessing it wasn't like that here.

May. 22nd, 2006 06:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Context is everything, and getting there is half the fun
No formal numeracy is required to understand introductory macroeconomics or introductory microeconomics (as taught as KSU, although the 1974 Enyclopedia Brittanica was similarly undemanding). The most demanding skills involved are reading graphs without scales, which is easily superseded by even remedial math classes.

So, math-free. All that is required to pass, is the ability to learn and use the terminology -- the same as facility in picking up foreign languages. I handled those courses as I handled taking French, not how I handled taking math.

Intermediate microeconomics (the other econ course I took) did require some algebraic facility, but nothing beyond college algebra. But it would have been possible to get 85% of the course material without that.

Econometrics (and its spinoffs) are the only part of economics that requires anything beyond college algebra to handle. Mostly multi-variable numerical calculus and statistics.

The verbatim quote from the instructor was "flunk out all business majors". I'm allowing for hyperbole. I think the cut was calibrated to hand out 5% A's. The arithmetic mean was in the low forties. The D/F cut was in the low teens; I half-recall that 20%-30% were getting F's on the exams.

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