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Efficient use of student's natural abilities: Sufficient number of grades

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The education system is totally unstructured and overspecialized in my opinion.


I believe that a factor of uncertainty regarding what is required of them plays a major part in how student's grades eventually play out, and that this is shameful. If a student knows they must do exactly X in order to get a certain grade, then they can simply decide what grade they want and do the associated work. If it REALLY proves to be too time consuming for them, possibly because of their natural limitations, then they will simply decide on a lower grade or give up on the material.


In reality what happens is that perfectly capable students end up doing poorly because it is not clear what is expected of them until their grade is already significantly handicapped.


It is my belief that the efficiency of the education system greatly suffers for this reason.


The problem is that it is not an easy task to create such a clear path that a student can see to the grade of their choice. Many naive approaches do not really work, for instance, the idea that you can simply tell them to do a certain amount of reading is invalid. One student may need to read something 10 times, and another may learn that same material just from listening to the teacher's lecture.


Another problem is that irrelevant factors end up playing a part in the grading in many cases where there is no objective and precise means of grading. This occurs because a question on a test does not logically necessitate the class of answers that is accepted. It is especially a problem in courses where there is little or no objective standard such as English or literature courses.


Because the path varies from student to student, it seems like the only way to give a student such a picture is to have some way that their earlier grades do not provide a huge part in their final grades, thus giving them time to adjust their strategy to the teacher's style. Each teacher's testing methods are different and different material requires different testing methods as well and so a new training period is required when either of these things change. The testing methods must be objective and precise so that the student knows exactly why they lose any points and that it represents a valid deficiency in their knowledge (and consequently their study habits).

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I agree with most of what you stated.


I personally think that grades can be a hindrance to learning. My last two and a half years of college were spent at The Evergreen State College. I chose to go there because of it's renowned programs in environmental studies, it's unique approach to teaching, and it was a relatively low cost public school for out of state students. What I was able to learn at that school trumps any other schooling I've ever had.


There are no grades! Students are given assignments as normal, but instead of a quiz, we would have group circles twice a week where we would discuss the reading assignment and sometimes even formally debate certain ideas. Upper level classes had tests per usual, but the scores on the test were mostly superficial. Students earn credits for participation. Of course, if a student never comes to class, or never comes to discussions, or doesn't show up for tests etc. they will get less, or sometimes no, credit for the class.


At the end of the quarter, the student writes an evaluation of the teacher(s) and the teacher writes an evaluation for each student. Students individually sit down with the teacher for a discussion on their strengths and weaknesses in the class as well as to discuss the evaluations.


It's a unique approach to learning and it's certainly not for everyone. Nonetheless, for some people, this system works much better. You might be someone who would benefit from this type of environment, redneckscholar. (Though, Evergreen is not the place to go for IT :singer:)

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  • 2 weeks later...

It sounds interesting. I often wonder what would happen if the whole system was privatized. I think something like that would end up occuring and then maybe in addition there would be tests to determine how much of the material you actually knew that were funded by the corporate sector. The tests would be administered by whoever could come up with the test that best reflected a person's ability to succeed in the workplace with the knowledge they gathered. If basic functionality was seperable from extreme knowledge that would allow a person to innovate and adapt in many different situations, then there would be economic motivation to recognize this.


I am sure in that case grades would disappear and education would focus on preparing people for these tests instead of assigning arbitrarily determined grades.


In comparison to such a system where any evaluation was economically motivated to be an accurate representation of your ability to apply the knowledge, the current system seems silly. Every professor has their own ideas about how students should be evaluated, and to be honest many of those ideas are just plain backwards. Some professors have purposely (yet indirectly so as not to be clearly prejudice) subjective and illogical methods for grading that allow them to declare grades by fiat perhaps based on what the student looks like to the professor or what types of unrelated ideas the student believes in.


On top of that, most schools have this attitude that it is the professor's right to do this. I don't get this. We pay taxes and tuition to support them, and they get to dictate how we are evaluated based on their selfish motives? The system is archaic and in dire need of renovation IMO. As long as state funded schools exist that operate in this manner, any more advanced private schools will be at a disadvantage.

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Some professors have purposely (yet indirectly so as not to be clearly prejudice) subjective and illogical methods for grading that allow them to declare grades by fiat perhaps based on what the student looks like to the professor or what types of unrelated ideas the student believes in.


I can relate to that. In 2001, I took a "class" called "Astronomy and Cosmology". I put "class" in quotes because most people are unfamiliar with the idea of integrative studies. The class was for 16 credits and was divided up into Astronomy, Cosmology, Prehistoric Astronomy, and a math lab.


I had dreadocks at the time. I always sat at the front of the class and I absolutely loved the subject! Nonetheless, my prof had it out for me. She thought I was the typical dready Evergreen student that was hoping to fly by the seat of my pants. At the end of the year, during our teacher-student conference, she admitted that she held prejudice against me because of my appearance. She then went on to say that I was one of her best students and she had gravely misjudged me. It was a win-win for me for a couple reasons. I received all of my credit for the class and also got her apology. She openly admitted her semester-long prejudice towards me because of my looks. She vowed to never again "judge the book by its cover". I don't think I've ever felt so proud!


Moral of the story: Hold your head up and keep doing what feels right. If your teach doesn't recognize, make it be known!


Best of luck to you,


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I will try, but part of the problem for me is that what I know is right isn't easily acceptable to others.


In a sense I am a fly by the seat of your pants type of student. Have you ever taken a class perhaps as an undergrad that was so easy that the difference between a good grade and a bad grade was 5-10 minutes of study time? What does dilligence even mean in such a situation? In this case it is clear to me that dilligence isn't the issue, rather it is just an issue of how well what it is shown what is expected of you so you will do it.


How is it different really when the class is more difficult? Might it be true that "lazy students" are often just caught unaware of how much work they were supposed to do to succeed.


I understand the claim that there is supposed to be some level of effort a student is supposed to put forth in order to succeed. But my question is where is that level exactly? What if a professor expects you to memorize page numbers? or memorize tangent ideas that are not exactly relevant to the material? If the professor wants you to focus on important ideas, just which ideas are important.


I notice some professors end the class with the people in it understanding 90% of the material and having good grades, and then another professor fails a bunch of people and gives others poor grades but his highest scoring student knows less than the other classes lowest scoring student...

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