No Passing Zone
As the start of a new academic year begins, I find myself remeniscing grading schemes of the past. Not necessarily just those I’ve implemented, but the ones I’ve had to contend with as an undergrad and a graduate student.
If I’m to generalize the most damaging of grading schemes I experienced as a student, it would be those that created a sense of helplessness due to exceptionally acceptable low exam performances coupled with high curves. Everyone knew their performance was going to be horrible and there was almost a collective bargaining among students about minimizing the time to invest in preparing for the tests. It turned into a failure avoidance type of mechanism.
The logic of the scheme goes like this: if the class average is 50% or less on exams, that’s ok. As long as there is a semi-reasonable grade distribution (very loosely defined, by the way), it demonstrates to students they still have a lot to learn and that they must work harder for a deeper understanding of the material.
Could there be more of a mismatch between motive and outcome?