What is A GPA Really Worth?

Photo source: office.microsoft.com

I can’t tell you how many times I met with students because they wanted a higher mark on an assignment and thought their GPA would suffer. Grade inflation has become one of new villains of this generation’s academic career. It’s our job as professors to explain to students that although they want to be an A-plus student, for the majority, their GPA is worthless.

When does a GAP have Meaning?
The difference between a 72% and a 75% is minimal unless the assignment/exam/presentation has a heavy weight in proportion to the final course mark.

Some programs require a minimum GPA. Professors in the program are well aware of the minimum requirements. They know there is a vast difference between a C and an A student and they mark accordingly.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Grading Issues are Solved by Creating Rubrics

My understanding of today’s high school students is that they care more about the letter grade than they do about truly understanding the course. Parental expectations and an attitude of “I’m the best and I deserve an A+ “ has become an increasing problem that has migrated from high school to higher education.

Over my eight-year college teaching career I noticed the increased number of students who attempt to bargain with me for “just one more point” on an assignment. The pressure to inflate grades began to creep into the profession. For some students, receiving a low mark was a shock because high school students in Ontario rarely fail a grade or subject. The reality is that not all students are suitable for college or university. They are not prepared for the amount of work, the real possibility of failure, and the tight deadlines.

One of my former students actually had the audacity to rather loudly say to me that he deserved to pass because he’d paid his tuition. I pointed out that he had attended only three classes and handed in two of the six assignments … and one was a month late so he received a zero. Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Do Grades Really Matter?

Over the years I have seen many students turn into nervous wrecks over their grades. But are all the tears, depression, and sleepless night really worth it. Unless students are on the verge of failing a course or are about to receive their third D and asked to leave the program, grades aren’t really as important as many students believe. Passing the course and understand the content is much more important than the final letter grade.

There are, of course, the exceptions, such as needing high marks to be admitted into a masters program, but most college and many university students will not take that route. When a student finishes their program they will start their career in their chosen field and only look back at higher education as a collection of scattered memories.

From a teacher’s perspective, grades reflect the student’s ability to follow the assignment instructions, meet deadlines, and retain knowledge from books. From the school’s perspective, they cannot tarnish their reputation by graduating all students who are admitted. Simply put, some students must fail so that the school isn’t seen as degree mill.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

Returning Student’s Assignment is a Learning Opportunity

Students can put hours, days or weeks into preparing and writing assignments. Waiting for the teacher to mark the assignment and anticipating the grade is a source of stress for students. Returning the assignment can also be a learning point for both the students and the instructor.

I create a simple one-page mark sheet for almost all assignments. The exception is research papers, which require meticulous comments and suggestions in addition to marking sheets.

All mark sheets are based on the assignment specifications, which are outlined on the assignment sheet and, at a higher level, in the course syllabus. The mark sheets are easy to fill out and also easy for the students to quickly read.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it

The Take-Home, Open-Book Test

In one of my college prep courses I found that students were very stress about taking college-type tests. While I had to prepare the students for college level learning, I certainly didn’t wan them to drop out or fail because of their fear of tests.

One colleague suggested giving the students a take-home test, but I suspected that students would give into the temptation of using the Internet to answer the questions. Occasionally I had used open-book tests, so as an experiment I created a take-home, open book test.

A week before the test, I have the student a choice of three topics they could write an essay about. I also gave them a fill-in-the blanks form to help them organize their information for each paragraph of essay.

Continue reading

If you like this post, say thanks by sharing it