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(Inside Higher Ed)   Problem: Professor grades on a curve. Solution: boycott final so everyone gets the "high" score (a 0) and therefore an A. Fark: it works   (insidehighered.com) divider line 192
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16742 clicks; posted to Main » on 14 Feb 2013 at 10:52 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-14 03:15:46 PM  
This isn't technically grading on a curve. It's grading on an adjusted scale that benefits everyone. I had teachers that did this and it was great. It means that if the teacher fails to adequately instruct the class the students are not punished for his failure. If the highest score is a 60% then 45% is still a passing grade.

Actual grading on a curve guarantees a certain number of each grade, meaning even if everyone scores over 80% most of them will still get Bs and Cs. Most likely this boycott was kicked off by a few students too lazy to read the syllabus having an emotional reaction to "grading on a curve" without actually understanding what the professor's policy really was.
 
2013-02-14 03:18:21 PM  

hasty ambush: I am against grading on a curve.  Besides the Asian students always wreck  it.


If you've ever spent time grading math or physics exams at the university level, you would know that this is not always the case.  I've seen plenty of Asian students fail a physics midterm/final.  They don't seem to stick with physics after that, though.  They move on to easier majors like business or computer science or mechanical engineering.
 
2013-02-14 03:22:23 PM  

LemSkroob: Fröhlich added that going forward, he will give students a choice between a final exam and a final project, and that his class for the spring 2013 semester has voted for the latter.


Well, good. Final exams are, first of all, not a reflection on how the real world works, and second of all, just a tool for lazy instructors to just run a scrantron sheet. Reports and projects are often how real world business is conducted. Its taking in facts (given or researched , bringing it together in a formal, unified manner, then either offering solutions to a problem or suggested actions for a future task.

We always complain about 'teaching to the test' and that schools don't prepare students for the real world. This is your answer to that.



Looks like I found the one non-STEM major on Fark.
 
2013-02-14 03:29:03 PM  

liam76: PsiChick: Grading on a curve is a problem because you don't get the score you earned, you get the score your neighbor earned for you. And it means the professor isn't paying as much attention to whether or not his class is learning something.

In one of my fluid mechanics classes in college I got a 21 on an 80 point test.  It was the highest in the class.  I "earned" and A.

I learned a lot in that class.  The teacher was good at teaching us things, just liked to ask extremely tough questions.


My graduate-level Classical Mechanics class was like that.  The final exam was excruciating.  Forty students took the class.  Prof awarded several B-, C+, and C grades (which is rather unusual for a grad school course).

I got one of the three A grades in the courses.

\yeah, I'm bragging.
 
2013-02-14 03:31:56 PM  

mike_d85: blatz514: What dangerous curves may look like

A methed up redneck?


That's what you got out of the picture?
 
2013-02-14 03:47:47 PM  
Gaming the system is a valuable life skill, and people who do it effectively should be rewarded, as that is what will happen in real life.  Gaming the system and failing at it should be extremely punishing, however.
 
2013-02-14 04:01:25 PM  

Fizpez: BigNumber12: Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.

You mean the real world of tax loopholes, back room deals and collusion?  Yeah, in reality that shiat works in the real world too.



No, the real world where most people don't subscribe to "let's all succeed by boycotting together!" Someone, and usually many someones, will always work harder than you so that they succeed and you fail. Outside of an academic environment, a good number of people would have shown up and aced that "test."
 
2013-02-14 04:12:07 PM  

Halophilic: BigNumber12: Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.

Good thing the "real world" is more than just the workplace and learning how to come together to achieve goals is actually a useful skill.


Coming together to achieve a goal is different from "everyone do nothing and we'll all win." That's a closed system that doesn't model the outside world. In reality, the next class over would have tried their hardest on the same test, and this class's failure relative to those scores would have resulted in their failing out.

Besides, what's a University Education supposed to be training for, if not the workplace? This is a stupid lesson to be teaching, which the Professor acknowledged by changing his system.

How many post-education situations in the contemporary United States reward non-competition? Can you name them? Bear in mind that not many people are likely to become heavyweight boxers.
 
2013-02-14 04:44:10 PM  

fireclown: Tricycle racer wins.  Prisoner dilemma FTW!


In the real world, college profs are given wide authority on grading.  I'd have failed the entire class for this kind of BS.


In the real world college professors think they have a wide authority on grading, until they get sued for violating their syllabus.

/those who can, do
//those who can't, teach
 
2013-02-14 04:44:28 PM  
If the students didn't actually attend the class and just sat outside of it then why weren't they marked absent and given an incomplete for the test?
 
2013-02-14 04:46:15 PM  

StrangeQ: Fark that.  By the one student's logic, if I know I am going to ace the test anyway because I studied ahead of time there is no incentive for me to break the boycott because I will still ace the test.  Bullshiat.  Why should I let those other lazy farks off easy because they think they've found a way to game the system?

/would have failed them all if I was the professor


Because most people have morals and ethics. You on the other hand, have confessed to being a sociopath.
 
2013-02-14 04:47:14 PM  

BigNumber12: Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.


Yeah! Like if all the banks worked together to pull off a scam they'd all go out of business get free money from Obama.
 
2013-02-14 04:48:15 PM  

thurstonxhowell: Grading on a curve is pretty stupid for a college class. It makes sense for something like the SATs where the number of test takers is very large and the group is varied in composition, but, in a high-level science class, there's a chance everyone there does very well and they should be graded as such.

...wait, I just read the article. He wasn't grading on a curve at all. That's not what grading on a curve is, despite what so many teachers may have wrongly told you.


You're confusing grading on a curve and grading on a bell curve.
 
2013-02-14 04:50:18 PM  

the ha ha guy: 5monkeys: This is ridiculous. It sounds like you had a chance to improve your grade with the curve. If the highest score was an 80 then your grade got bumped up by 20 points

If 90% of the class gets a score of 60, and the highest is 61, that 90% gets an A.

If 90% of the class gets a score of 60, and the highest is 98, that 90% gets a D.

Grading on a curve really does allow one person to mess it up for everyone else. Your score doesn't matter, only the highest score does, unless you can prove that your "incorrect" answers were correct as stated in the textbook, not covered in the class, etc.


In the article (that you didn't bother to read), in this professor's class:

If 90% of the class gets a score of 60, and the highest is 61, the single grade of 61 gets an A, and the 90% of the class gets a B/C/D/F depending on the professor's discretion.
 
2013-02-14 04:51:28 PM  

Quaker: How is grading on a curve a problem? It can only help you compared to the alternative. All they did was screw it up for everyone else in the future. If you can actually get everyone else on board, there are far more subtle ways to effectively manipulate a grading curve.

Also, the professor's new policy of "everybody has 0 points means that everybody gets 0 percent" would be just as ineffective if he's going to follow it to the letter as he did here. All everyone has to do is pick one question (or one relevant fact in the case of an essay test) that they're sure about and only answer that one.


If you had read the article you would know that the professor also set a new policy of "if he thinks anyone is trying to work together to mess with the curve, he can give everyone any grade he feels like, irrespective of how they did in the class."
 
2013-02-14 04:52:43 PM  

thurstonxhowell: StrangeQ: /would have failed them all if I was the professor

Not if you didn't like being sued for not following the syllabus that you printed and handed out. This was at Johns Hopkins, at least one of those kids would have had the dough to make that hurt.


This. I remember when one of my professors tried to announce he was changing the syllabus and I pointed out that without our permission, he had no authority to do so.
 
2013-02-14 04:54:27 PM  

Gerald Tarrant: Call me crazy but I have always felt when marking my students that their mark should be related to how much they know not how much the others in the class do.


But if we do that, children will be left behind! We must reduce everyone's intelligence to the lowest common denominator instead of actually promoting intelligence and learning!
 
2013-02-14 04:56:15 PM  

Fizpez: thurstonxhowell: Grading on a curve is pretty stupid for a college class. It makes sense for something like the SATs where the number of test takers is very large and the group is varied in composition, but, in a high-level science class, there's a chance everyone there does very well and they should be graded as such.

...wait, I just read the article. He wasn't grading on a curve at all. That's not what grading on a curve is, despite what so many teachers may have wrongly told you.

Yeah we was adjusting the max score to match the best performance which is definitely not grading on a curve.  And even for people who DO actually try and grade on a curve I've never met someone who was such a bastard that a 93% becomes a "C" because everyone did awesome and you were just a little less awesome.  I would be farking THRILLED if I had a class average a 93% on a test and would happily dish out the "A's",


If students are averaging anything less than 100% on your tests then either:

1.) You have failed as an educator
2.) Your tests are not representative of the teaching in your course
3.) Your college has failed to properly accept/reject student applications
 
2013-02-14 04:57:10 PM  

desertgeek: fireclown: In the real world, college profs are given wide authority on grading.  I'd have failed the entire class for this kind of BS.

Yes, but he almost certainly gave his students a paper explaining the grading policy. If he had failed them all, they could've gone to college administrators and appealed that grade. Many professors I had in college viewed the syllabus and papers like the grading policy as like a contract and generally speaking; are expected to stick with that, regardless of circumstances like exploited loopholes.


That would be because that is the LAW and they get sued if they don't...
 
2013-02-14 04:58:16 PM  

PsyLord: Ah, students these days.  Instead of working hard for your grade, let's find loopholes to slide by.


Yeah. In the real world there is no value for problem solving skills, efficiency, collaboration and innovating thinking. We should make sure to squash such notions and create an army of drones.
 
2013-02-14 05:01:45 PM  

Bullseyed: In the article (that you didn't bother to read), in this professor's class:...



I was answering 5monkeys question about why a student wouldn't want to be graded on a curve, and I used the most common adjustment as an example.

I know this professor does things differently, but so do many professors. I once had a professor who would grade the lowest score as zero, meaning that at least one person got zero in each and every test, even if they got a natural score of 95%. But his type of adjustment was uncommon (and usually reversed after a few complaints), as is the adjustment used by the professor in TFA, so I felt those anomalies weren't relevant to a question on curve grading in general.
 
2013-02-14 05:09:23 PM  

thurstonxhowell: Quaker: How is grading on a curve a problem? It can only help you compared to the alternative

False. Grading on a curve is not the same as what this guy did. This guy bumped up students' scores so that the highest score was equivalent to getting 100% even if a few questions were wrong. That's not grading on a curve. Grading on a curve forces the grades into a pre-determined distribution, usually centered on a C. Most colleges are reluctant to give Fs, so you really have to fark up to get one.

If a class gets 96, 95, 92, 88, 86, 85, 85, 84, and 82, this guy would give them 100, 99, 96, 92, 90, 89, 89, 88, and 86. Grading on a curve would give them something like A, B, B, C, C, C, C, D, and D.


Depends on the rest of his grading policy, which was not included in the article and you are speculating about, unfoundedly. Furthermore, you got the part of the grading policy that was contained in the article wrong. He does not add percentage points, but rather retotals the exam.

A 96 would be a 38.4/40 -> 38.4/38.4 = 100%
A 95 would be a 38/40 -> 38/38.4 = 98.9%
A 92 would be a 36.8/40 -> 36.8/38.4 = 95.8%
A 88 would be a 35.2/40 -> 35.2/38.4 = 91.7%
A 86 would be a 34.4/40 -> 34.4/38.4 = 89.5%
A 85 would be a 34/40 -> 34/38.4 = 88.5%
A 84 would be a 33.6/40 -> 33.6/38.4 = 87.5%
A 82 would be a 32.8/40 -> 32.8/38.4 = 85.4%

Your shortcut only works if the policy is to round up, and even then it would only work for initial grades above 83.9%.
 
2013-02-14 05:18:00 PM  

KFBR392: I had one of these professors on college.

IIRC,the curve was something like:

> 80 was an A
60-79 was a B
45-59 was a C
35-44 was a D
 < 35 F

What's the point of teaching agiving exams where 75% of the students are retaining maybe 50% of the  information.


You're assuming that "getting question wrong on the test" means "it was taught and student didn't retain it" which most of the time is an incorrect assumption.
 
2013-02-14 05:20:43 PM  

BigNumber12: Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.


They just did.  Where do you think the "real world" is exactly?
 
2013-02-14 05:22:27 PM  

grinding_journalist: Fizpez: The guy got dozens of other people to follow him in on a risky proposition - a group which MUST have included people who would have gotten an "A" anyway. There are plenty of places that WOULD hire him just because of this....

Another way of looking at it would be: This guy convinced dozens of other people to do an ethically questionable gaming of the system for personal benefit. I wonder if he'd do that with his pool of office co-workers at our company? He clearly has no problem with it, and here, it might cost us money.


You have very little understanding of what ethics is.
 
2013-02-14 05:25:11 PM  

tortilla burger: Clever, and you win on a technicality (which isn't even really a technicality, the professor's syllabus and grading style are not legally binding), but come on you whiny entitled bastards. It's just a test. Seriously.

I'd have failed all of them on principle.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrjwaqZfjIY
 
2013-02-14 05:28:41 PM  

Adolf Oliver Nipples: Normalization of grades have been happening for a long time, I see little reason to object to it now.


Yep. Started exactly at the same time that the US education system started losing ground to other countries. Imagine that.
 
2013-02-14 05:29:29 PM  

Lando Lincoln: I would have loved to have been the ass that ruined it for all of them.

"Fark all you guys. I'm here to learn shiat, not for a goddamn grade. I'm smart enough to take this test and pass it. If you're not, then go find a new line of study."


If you were there to learn, then you wouldn't take any test, as tests are not learning.
 
2013-02-14 05:31:26 PM  

red5ish: My experience taking classes graded on a curve included students sabotaging other students' lab experiments, books being stolen from the reserve library, pages ripped out or blacked out, cheating on a massive scale, you know, just the sort of behavior you want to encourage.


So, how was Cornell?
 
2013-02-14 05:42:56 PM  

Bullseyed: KFBR392: I had one of these professors on college.

IIRC,the curve was something like:

> 80 was an A
60-79 was a B
45-59 was a C
35-44 was a D
 < 35 F

What's the point of teaching agiving exams where 75% of the students are retaining maybe 50% of the  information.

You're assuming that "getting question wrong on the test" means "it was taught and student didn't retain it" which most of the time is an incorrect assumption.


Exactly... most every ENG course, the HW tested your knowledge of the material, the exams tested your limits.  Tests are often designed to be a step or two beyond what is expected.  Only in the easy classes were exams tests of your absorption of the information.
 
2013-02-14 05:57:06 PM  

Fizpez: BigNumber12: Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.

You mean the real world of tax loopholes, back room deals and collusion?  Yeah, in reality that shiat works in the real world too.


Yep, it's called a Union Shop.
 
2013-02-14 06:03:12 PM  

bingo the psych-o: BigNumber12: Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.

They just did.  Where do you think the "real world" is exactly?


Post-academia. You know, the place where choosing not to do the work that's required of you results in termination.
 
2013-02-14 06:15:48 PM  

Kaenneth: Fizpez: BigNumber12: Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.

You mean the real world of tax loopholes, back room deals and collusion?  Yeah, in reality that shiat works in the real world too.

Yep, it's called a Union Shop.


Which was a fantastic idea until the rest of the world started doing many of the same tasks better and cheaper.

Rewarding non-competition and non-production on a large enough scale creates economic powerhouses like the Soviet Union.
 
2013-02-14 07:49:32 PM  
Pretty sure I just set the high end of the curve for my programming class on Tuesday, so I'm getting a kick...

/Bragging? Me?
 
2013-02-14 08:16:02 PM  

FizixJunkee: liam76: PsiChick: Grading on a curve is a problem because you don't get the score you earned, you get the score your neighbor earned for you. And it means the professor isn't paying as much attention to whether or not his class is learning something.

In one of my fluid mechanics classes in college I got a 21 on an 80 point test.  It was the highest in the class.  I "earned" and A.

I learned a lot in that class.  The teacher was good at teaching us things, just liked to ask extremely tough questions.

My graduate-level Classical Mechanics class was like that.  The final exam was excruciating.  Forty students took the class.  Prof awarded several B-, C+, and C grades (which is rather unusual for a grad school course).

I got one of the three A grades in the courses.

\yeah, I'm bragging.


It was a bit nerve wracking the first time I had a test lime that...
 
2013-02-14 09:37:25 PM  

Bullseyed: Quaker: How is grading on a curve a problem? It can only help you compared to the alternative. All they did was screw it up for everyone else in the future. If you can actually get everyone else on board, there are far more subtle ways to effectively manipulate a grading curve.

Also, the professor's new policy of "everybody has 0 points means that everybody gets 0 percent" would be just as ineffective if he's going to follow it to the letter as he did here. All everyone has to do is pick one question (or one relevant fact in the case of an essay test) that they're sure about and only answer that one.

If you had read the article you would know that the professor also set a new policy of "if he thinks anyone is trying to work together to mess with the curve, he can give everyone any grade he feels like, irrespective of how they did in the class."


Well that's lame. But it also proves what I was saying to someone else in this thread, which was that they made life harder for all the other students from here onward by being so obvious about their collusion. They could have been subtle and still all gotten reasonably good grades since it seems that they could actually get everyone to agree to work together, which is the hardest part.
 
2013-02-14 10:33:57 PM  
Way to sell yourself short, Generation Duckfacers.  Way to sell yourself short.

Also, if this had been on the ground floor I would have knocked on the widow to see if the professor would let me climb in and take the test just to fark over everyone else for being a bunch of farking idiots.
 
2013-02-14 11:31:10 PM  

thurstonxhowell: StrangeQ: /would have failed them all if I was the professor

Not if you didn't like being sued for not following the syllabus that you printed and handed out. This was at Johns Hopkins, at least one of those kids would have had the dough to make that hurt.


This!  That syllabus is a contract and really must be followed.  There is some leeway to allow for changes related to the material taught due to school closings (usually omitting a chapter or some such modification), but that doesn't usually allow for professors to change the grading system unless it's to the benefit of the students.

Sounds like this prof called it a good play and changed his rules to prevent this from happening in the future. He did right in mu opinion.
 
2013-02-15 01:19:22 AM  

naughtyrev: DussoJanladde: Dogberry: I'm amazed that that one guy who asks all the stupid questions right at the end of class didn't fark it up for everyone else by showing up for the exam.

Did you read TFA? Everyone sat outside the room, and if one student had gone in to take the exam, all of them would have done the same.

I would've sneaked in through a different door or crawled through a window or something. Just answer like 1 or 2 questions correctly and be done with it. That would've been hilarious.


Yea, I would've been the one to march right in. Fark 'em.

/and fark curves, too
 
2013-02-15 06:44:14 AM  

Quaker: hich was that they made life harder for all the other students from here onward by being so obvious about their collusion. They could have been subtle and still all gotten reasonably good grades since it seems that they could actually get everyone to agree to work together, which is the hardest part


The only way they agreed and followed through is that could all watch each other and stay out of the class.  Once they sat down for the test, all bets are off.
 
2013-02-15 11:53:53 AM  
To quote a comment from TFA which doesn't make the alleged Fox News ban sound too little, too late:


As one of Dr. Wolfe's students I am really angered by this whole 'tempest in a teapot'. In fact, the people commenting negatively toward Dr. Wolfe (below) show why she is absolutely correct in this matter. Their views have been skewed by bad reporting. We were told, in-class, that she did not want us using biased sources, and mentioned some extreme left, and extreme right, as well as special interest "news" organizations as examples.

She further explained that, if we could make a good argument for using one of these sources (as several people in class have) that she would permit it. She just wanted us to explore a variety of sources, rather than simply accepting a single perspective.

She has NOT (as TV9 claims), "lifted any limitation on research sources", because there was no real limitation to begin with.

The "upset students and parents", are one set of parents who happen to be the extremely conservative and politically influential parents of one student who is failing. So rather than talk to her or anyone else at the University, they are trying to discredit her.

All of this is hardly surprising, WWVA is a Fox radio affiliate, and Bloomquist only has a show because of he spreads offensive lies and half-truths (Look at his comments about coal miners from last April).

What is sad is that WTOV is being so ignorant as to accept for face value what Bloomquist said. This is what happens with yellow journalists on a slow news day, I suppose
 
2013-02-15 11:55:25 AM  
Whoopsie.
That was the wrong browser tab with "professor" in its title.
 
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