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Subject:

Re: grading, skating, and strict and easy graders

From:

"Dr. L. Hazareesingh" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 3 May 2004 23:38:10 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (234 lines)

My reference to judgment call was more about "rationing" grades than
about grading itself.  I am sure those who made the decision at
Princeton weighed the many arguments put forward in this forum and
decided what was more important to their institutional mission.  The
beauty of the American system and, to some degree its weakness is that
it does not believe in the uniformity of measurements.  National
measures are rare and not unique.  The decision to ration grades
therefore is primarily an institutional resposibility.
My concern with what Princeton has done has more to do with the opposite
of what has been discussed so far.  Does the idea of allocating grades
become so entrenched that instructors give good grades when no one
deserves it?

Nic Voge wrote:

>Haz, Susan et. al.,
>Haz, I gather from your response that since grading is a "judgement
>call", issues about grading are largely moot or unresolvable. But to
>me, if, as you say, grading is a matter of judgement, the issue
>becomes, judgement on what BASIS? What theories of learning, teaching
>and evaluation will we use to make our judgments? What empirical
>evidence will we use? What feedback mechanisms will we put in place
>to see if our grading judgements yield the kinds of results we
>desire? In my view, grading, like all matters of instruction, are
>matters of judgement and therefore should be subject to analysis and
>discourse.
>
>As far as the matters of objectivity and subjectivity which Susan
>brings up are concerned, I think there is no escaping the subjective
>(at least in one sense of the term) nature of evaluation. The term
>itself gives us a clue. At its root is "value". Values are inherently
>subjective, are they not? Quantifying subjective values does not
>make them objective, it makes them entrenched. Simply because many,
>most, or even all educators share certain values does not make them
>absolute, merely dominant. So, even if all of us agree on what
>students "should" learn and display on exams, that is not an
>indicator of objectiveness.
>
>If you doubt my claim that quantification does not lead to
>objectivity, take as an example Olympic skating. I pick this example
>because it is very high stakes, lots of resources are put into it,
>and many people really care about it, so it is a likely area in which
>to find "objectivity" of evaluation. But you don't; and if they can't
>with all that, I doubt we can either. For example, there is
>considerable variation and disagreement among judges--and that is
>WITHIN the very strict guidelines that are explicated for judges to
>use. But this variation does not even account for the fact that the
>guidelines themselves embody arbitrary values. Why, objectively,
>should a double toe loop be worth more than a perfect spin? Why
>should the three different types of routines be weighted differently,
>or the same for that matter? These are subjective judgements that are
>then codified in quantitative terms. Quantification doesn't eliminate
>subjectivity, it simply moves it "up" or "earlier" in the process of
>evaluation. The result is that these values are more obscure and
>harder to question.
>
>Skaters then aim to earn the highest scores (much like our students)
>within these guidelines, and they  design their practice and routines
>accordingly. Those that do get the highest scores cannot be said to
>be the best skaters in any objective sense, these skaters,  rather,
>are the best (if there is reliability in the scoring) at the aspects
>of skating most highly valued and rewarded by the judging guidelines.
>I believe the same analysis applies to students' displays of
>knowledge. We grade higher those students who display the knowledge
>we value more in the ways we value more than we grade other students.
>I don't think this observation ends discussion, I think it shifts it
>and opens up new or at least less charted lines of enquiry.
>
>In my view, seeking "objectivity" in grading procedures or leaving
>each individual to make a judgement call without critical reflection
>are not adequate responses to the challenges that the subjective
>nature of grading (and curriculum and instruction in general) pose to
>educators. I think we need to dig a bit deeper into our own practices
>and the reasons and beliefs upon which those practices rest.
>
>Nic
>
>
>
>>It seems to me that all the views expressed are valid but in the end, it
>>is a judgment call.  What interests me though: Is how does one account
>>for the grade distribution we are seeing when we all seem to be
>>complaining about the quality of our students?
>>Haz
>>
>>Susan Jones wrote:
>>
>>
>>
>>>But... grading our effort is bound to be subjective -- there are classes
>>>I could take and work very, very, very hard in but my work would compare
>>>
>>>
>> >poorly to the soul beside me who needed much less effort to achieve the
>>
>>
>>>same end.  However, I would rather be judged objectively.
>>>    Getting back to developmental students, there is often a conflict
>>>when a student works hard but has not mastered the material, and doesn't
>>>understand why s/he is not getting a passing grade.  Again, there's that
>>>conflict between the easy & strict --  and you have to ask yourself
>>>whether, when you give that 'effort' grave, I mean grade (freudian
>>>typo?), you're not just passing the reality buck on to the next teacher
>>>who has to deal wilth this underprepared student... how many of our
>>>students *are* underprepared because they were rewarded for their
>>>nondisruptive attendance with a passing grade?
>>>
>>>Susan Jones
>>>Academic Development Specialist
>>>Academic Development Center
>>>Parkland College
>>>Champaign, IL  61821
>>>[log in to unmask]
>>>Webmastress,
>>>http://www.resourceroom.net
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>>>>[log in to unmask] 04/27/04 01:40PM >>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>Hi Anna,
>>>
>>>Grading is a fair or unfair way of judging one's
>>>ability.  I wish there was  another way to determine
>>>how well a person does.  There were many times when I
>>>was graded unfairly.  Few times did I receive a grade
>>>that I knew I deserved it one way or another.  When
>>>You work hard at something, one expects to receive the
>>>hightes grade possible.  There are time when we do not
>>>work hard, but receive a high grade, I suppose that
>>>pays off for when we did not get the grade we deserve.
>>>
>>>Perhaps an evaluation or research can be done asking
>>>students what do they think of the grading systems and
>>>to think of another systems that can be used in the
>>>eduactional field.  I am sure through time, using
>>>technology and life experiences, grading will change.
>>>Perhaps another format will develop in the future.
>>>
>>>See you later
>>>
>>>Louise
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>__________________________________
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>>>
>>>
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>>
>
>
>--
>
>
>Dominic (Nic) J. Voge
>Study Strategies Program Coordinator
>University of California, Berkeley
>Student Learning Center
>136 Cesar Chavez Student Center  #4260
>Berkeley, CA 94720-4260
>
>(510) 643-9278; [log in to unmask]
>Spring 2004 Office Hours: Mon 3-4; Wed 9-10; Thurs 2-3; & by appointment
>
>
>"A university is, according to the usual designation, an alma mater,
>knowing her children one by one, not a foundry, or a mint, or a
>treadmill."-John Henry Newman
>
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