I am very passionate about this week’s topics. To me, while grades play an important role in the education system, their role can also be misinterpreted to generate negative outcomes from the educational system. Grades have always been a good part of my education, and I have always link my progress of a class to the grades I make. Sometimes people complain that grades are not a reflection about how much you know or understand the class material, or how much you have studied int he process.
To me, grades play an important role in assessing how much material that your instructor wants you to, are you able to retrieve in a specific manner. i think grades, in general, are a good self indicator of your knowledge or an assessment of where do you need to work more. Getting a B in a test, to me, indicates that there is some material that I have not learn it yet, or that I need to revise it again. To me, this is a self-reflection process; which means that you can reflect and learn from a grade to improve in your next challenges. I think that grades help one-self to address issues for improvement.
On the other hand, grades have taken a different role, and they have become the way to evaluate and compare the final knowledge/outcome of an individual in comparison to the rest of the classmates. Nowadays we have distributions about how many A’s or B’s should a class have. It may seem that grades have taken over the overall education assessment.
Grades should play as an external motivator agent for the individual to self-assessment rather than for group placing. There is a case in Quito, where in 2000, an elementary school tried and experimented a new methodology where motivation came from the thrill of playing and not so much for the grades of tests. This was an experimental school where kids learned about math by playing to go grocery shopping, or learned language and grammar by writing letters to Santa, or play that their job is to respond to petitions, etc. This was a successful experiment, and the school became famous for it pedagogical methods. Perhaps it was too futuristic because no other schools adopted such methodology, but that school was recognized for its positive approaches to student learning.
Similarly in the real life work. There is the case of the Chilean State Bank that replaced the Human-resources department for a Happiness department. The goal was to reduce the turnover they were facing due to stress and other negative effects typical of banking jobs. More info here (oops, ti is in Spanish): https://massnegocios.com/rodrigo-rojas-foncillas-gerente-de-felicidad-bancoestado-microempresas-s-a-chile/. The results were splendid! The new purpose was to understand people and support them as part of a family, and not to treat them as workers who must finish specific tasks in a certain time.
Perhaps it is time to rethink grades from rewards that “narrow our view and let us focus to achieve it quicker; into creative, conceptual kind of concept.
7 Replies to “Hide my grade, so I can get my A!”
Grades sometimes can misinterpret the understanding of a student. For example, in my graduate life, I got As in two very tough classes, however, I am only 20% competent in those. In one of my classes, I got B+, but that class is really helping me now with my research. Sometimes it depends on whether you are interested in that class content or not.
I agree, but I think there is a logic hen the grading system was designed. To me, and it is to me, most of the grades help me for self assessment of my acquired knowledge vs the expected acquired knowledge. I know that sometimes the grades are not well designed, so, I include that in me self-reflection, but in general, grades do not dictate who I am but help me guide my studying path and efforts.
I’m curious about the demand for certain grade distributions. In my department, this is definitely not true. If it were, I’d explicitly object! Quantifying student performance and self-assessing with a standardized grading system can be perfectly fine in many cases. But calibrating students’ grades on the basis others is completely unfair. I think grading on a curve and having to meet certain grading quotas is always wrong.
I love the examples that you provided about the elementary school in Quito and the Happiness department in the Chilean bank. However, these examples don’t quite seem aligned with the beginning of your post where you mentioned that you personally use grades to self-assess and identify areas for improvement. And as I read your post, I wondered if you thought there would be other forms of feedback, assessment, or evaluation that would better help students with that self-reflection and self-assessment that you personally found helpful. For example, instead of using a B to indicate that there is some material that the student has not yet learned, would it be better to provide more in-depth feedback on that gap? And Syeed brings up an interesting point about grades as well. If a student sees an A on their assignment, will they assume that they have mastered the material? How can we further encourage that self-reflection and self-assessment for students who are doing well as those who may not have mastered the material yet?
You mentioned how grades are a source of personal reflection on your performance in a class and I think that is a good perspective to have. But this perspective could so easily be misinterpreted by students and by others, who start to see their own personal worth and ability as a student reflected in their grades. For many of us, in graduate school, we had good grades throughout our education and received positive feedback, but what about students who did not always get good grades. I think the perception of students that they are “just not cut out to be students” because of lower grades, either fairly earned or given on a curve, could be very discouraging to them as they move through their education.
I really agree your points! I take the grade as self-evaluation to see how much materials I have understand, which part of concepts I thought I understand but actually I didn’t, what I miss when studying the materials and etc. In my area ( engineering), we learn the basic concepts or physics in class. After classes, we need to study and do tons of problems to apply the knowledge we learned. The exam then help students to really check if they really understand the concepts. Therefore, I don’t think there is a competition between students to some degree.
I like your comments about how you as a student feel about receiving grades. I guess this whole time I’ve more so been reflecting about how this applies with myself as the instructor. I have to agree with you in the fact that I enjoy getting grades. I tend to have a bit of a type A personality and therefore I feel almost lost when I have nothing assessment-based to work off of. It is just the WORST when you’re asked to complete a reoccurring assignment that entails a grade and you don’t receive feedback until you’re five weeks into the class. You could have used that feedback to do something different on the previous four assignments. When grading (in my opinion) should be used as a form of assessment to provide students with feedback throughout the duration of the course, grades oftentimes just hit us at the very end of the course. At that point there isn’t much a student can do about it.