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Only Experts In The Field Of Education Are Competent To Assign Grades.


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#1 Kriminal99

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 10:42 AM

In a certain well known case, it was declared that courts and administrative bodies do not have the competence to assign grades in a particular class. Thus by default this responsibility was left to the professor, and such organizations will only consider issues of bias and prejudice.

But the competency of the professor to assign grades was never established either, as in truth they are not. Education is an entire discipline with it's own professors and for good reason: There are many issues in education that must be understood in order to effectively gauge how much knowledge is getting across to the student, and therefore what grade should be assigned. Many issues of bias and prejudice can really be chalked up to ignorance in this domain, as a proper understanding of the learning process would go far to dispel these biases.

Some example concepts not well understood by professors in other disciplines:

Intelligence driven learning practices

The education discipline accepted long ago that different students have different levels of intelligence. Students must be grouped according to this, because these intelligence groups require different amounts of task decomposition. Lower intelligence students have less ability to generalize from their experiences and therefore must be given more dense explanations. Analysis of how much they have learned can accurately be detected by measuring familiarity with these dense explanations. The intelligence of students in academia can vary by as much as 2 standard deviations.

Higher intelligence students however need less dense explanations while still retaining the same amount or more functional knowledge of the material. It is not appropriate to test knowledge of facts which are not theoretically necessary to having a functional knowledge of the material.

Since intelligence can be misjudged, all tests should evaluate only facts theoretically necessary to functional knowledge of the material. Further the purpose of all education is to teach the highest level understanding of the material possible, so the ideas can be applied in novel situations. Even when history is taught (anything from history of a disciplines to history of a people) the purpose is to give the student knowledge they can apply to their life.

For example:

Really bad -
"What page in the book was X described?" - A lower intelligence person might have to study the book so much that they would know the page numbers, thus for them it might be a good indicator. But obviously not a sound one.

pretty bad -
"Who were the authors of the paper on X?"

Asking about the form of how an idea is presented rather than the idea itself. Describing a concept and asking for it's name is bad because it doesn't asses knowledge at all. Asking for a description of a named concept is good.

And many more types of questions typically seen on college level exams.

Differences in opinion

An educator must accept the possibility that a particularly capable or driven student may surpass them in knowledge on a given subject related to their discipline. This is especially true at higher levels of education where the students are being taught up to the current state of the art, yet still true at lower levels of education.

As such, questions related to opinions are not valid questions. When in a class you have defined a certain concept to the students, you are protected from differing opinions by virtue of the fact that the student is being asked to recall the concept as presented.

When you ask the student to comment on something's objective truth value or it's value in the world, they may present arguments that you do not agree with. It is impossible to differentiate for certain which person is correct and which does not understand. This is the very nature of disagreement.

You cannot simply assume you are correct because you are the professor. This status was given to you because you have been deemed competent to investigate matters and find the truth, not because you already know every truth there is to know. You are not omniscient. This is clearly proven by the fact that all professors do not agree with each other.

As a result asking a student to give an opinion on something then marking their answer wrong because they disagreed with an idea in class is not valid, and it is not necessarily the case that they do not understand that idea.

#2 CraigD

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Posted 07 December 2010 - 04:11 PM

In a certain well known case, it was declared that courts and administrative bodies do not have the competence to assign grades in a particular class.

To what case specifically do your refer? I was unable to find a case reaching this conclusion via a brief web search.

I did find US 3rd Circuit Court Brown v. Armenti (2001), but in this decision is different than that courts and administrative bodies can’t assign grades. In it, a lawsuit by Brown, a tenured professor who refused an order by Armenti, his university’s president, to change a student’s grade, and was subsequently suspended from teaching that class, and subsequently fired from the university, was dismissed on the grounds (I paraphrase) that professors are agents of their universities, and thus may be told, at peril of their dismissal, what to do with regards to teaching and grading students, without that constituting a violation of their right to freedom of speech.

Only Experts In The Field Of Education Are Competent To Assign Grades.

A couple of questions about this title assertion:
  • What criteria establishes one as an “expert in the field of Education”? Completing a Ed.D. or Ph.D. in Education? Some other criteria?
  • What Education expert(s) supports this assertion?
I’ve known many Ed.Ds (it’s a common terminal degree for college professors, even those teaching in departments other than Education), and while those who were teachers seemed to feel themselves competent to grade students, none appeared to begrudge that duty/privilege to colleagues with little or no formal education in Education. Though I rarely saw it plainly stated among faculty, I had the clear impression that Ed.Ds considered themselves of lower academic status than Ph.Ds in their field, a belief that was plainly - and often - expressed among students.

I’ve long had qualms about all degrees in Education. It’s been my personal experience that teachers with degrees in the subject they teach, and the minimum required training in education (eg: that required for a state board-issued teaching certificate) were better than those with degrees in Education. All of the teachers I consider the worst (a couple gut-wrenchingly) had B.Eds.

While I sympathetic to people with complete M.Ed and Ed.Ds due to academic job requirements, I don’t believe – and more, don’t believe they believe – that restricting the grading of students to people with extensive training in Education is a good policy.
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#3 Kriminal99

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Posted 10 December 2010 - 10:31 AM

The question of who already agrees with the argument is not of interest to me.

As usual the purpose of my argument is not to say that a bunch of people already agree with a claim so it should be considered (which would be bandwagon fallacy, and also silly since it was already agreed upon) but rather to say that people SHOULD agree with it because it is the correct logically sound argument. Thank god that we aren't limited to only considering arguments that everyone already agrees with, or we would still be stuck in the stone age.

As you might guess, I would define an expert in the field of education as someone who understands the relevant concepts rather than just someone who has the paper (and I also might include someone who did not have the paper but understood at least as many such concepts as anyone with the paper).

In any case, it should be clear that by this definition being a professor does not qualify you as an expert in education. Many professors routinely demonstrate ignorance of concepts understood even by less competent people with backgrounds in education.

Methods used to assign grades should be strictly limited to those approved by the most competent experts in education because they merely test functional knowledge of the material and nothing else that the professor is does not have the right to associate with grading.

If you look above, you will see several clear depictions of specific mistakes made by university professors in grading, and valid explanations for why they are incorrect.

Expert status as indicated by paper alone never puts you in a position to refute a sound logical argument just based on your status as an authoritative source. Such paper conferred expert status is supposed to denote that you are good at discovering such sound arguments.

As such, it is always absurd to counter a logical argument by saying that a paper conferred expert disagrees...