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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 49
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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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Archived thread
2013-02-14 11:07:03 AM
10 votes:

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.
2013-02-14 11:00:17 AM
6 votes:
I believe they all get an incomplete since they failed to take the test, and a disciplinary request to the administration for wasting my time and the schools resources.
2013-02-14 11:09:38 AM
5 votes:
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.
2013-02-14 10:59:37 AM
4 votes:
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.
2013-02-14 10:57:24 AM
4 votes:
www.maniacworld.com

What dangerous curves may look like
2013-02-14 11:35:52 AM
3 votes:

grinding_journalist: FAIL tag beats ASININE?

Andrew Kelly, a student in Fröhlich's Introduction to Programming class who was one of the boycott's key organizers, explained the logic of the students' decision via e-mail: "Handing out 0's to your classmates will not improve your performance in this course," Kelly said.

If I were an employer, I'd be thrilled that this guy allowed his name to be used in the article, because he is so delusional I'd never consider for a moment hiring him.


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....
2013-02-14 11:09:29 AM
3 votes:
Then some kid who passed out drunk the night before e-mails him, says he was "sick" and apologizes for not making it to the final, then asks if he can make it up...
2013-02-14 11:09:21 AM
3 votes:

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.
2013-02-14 11:07:12 AM
3 votes:
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.
2013-02-14 11:04:55 AM
3 votes:
Good luck trying to apply that one in the real world, kiddos.
2013-02-14 11:03:40 AM
3 votes:

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. I don't understand the logic in getting everyone to sit out.

/ never graded on a curve.
//am I misunderstanding it?


They weren't protesting that it was "unfair" they simply wanted to see what the prof would do.  He (the prof) actually seems like a pretty cool teacher and even he learned something - he didnt go apeshiat trying to get revenge on these kids, he gave them the "well played ol' chap" nod and is changing his policy for the future.  All said and done *golfclaps* all around.
2013-02-14 11:02:44 AM
3 votes:
they didn't take the test, so getting an A for the test is illogical: they should have gotten an incomplete, with their scores for the semester either unchanged or lowered due to the lack of the required 100-300 points the final would be composed of.  At the same time, the students are paying for an education, and knowing how to get the best grade is secondary to knowing the material with which you intend to base a career off of.  If those students were to think rationally about their motives, i.e. "How will I proceed in this course of study?  I have an A for this class, but I don't know the material, as I was too busy getting tanked to study, knowing we'd just be sitting outside the classroom."

/I would have walked into the room to take the exam
//would also have been the one who got the 100% and farked their possibility to get a curve
///yes, I'm that guy
2013-02-14 10:58:11 AM
3 votes:
Why couldn't any of my class mates have been down for this?
Actually my problem was homework. Not tests. It only affected one class but unfortunately it was intermediate accounting II and I was an accounting major.
2013-02-14 10:56:21 AM
3 votes:
math2033.uark.edu
2013-02-14 11:16:34 AM
2 votes:

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. I don't understand the logic in getting everyone to sit out.

/ never graded on a curve.
//am I misunderstanding it?


Because then everyone with a '0' gets their score bumped up by 100 points. Beats an "80' every time.
These kids get credit for thinking outside the box AND getting this thing organized. The prof. gets credit for standing behind what he drew up, flaws and all, and not getting mad. He left a loophole in, and these kids exploited it. Lesson learned.
2013-02-14 11:11:54 AM
2 votes:

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",
2013-02-14 11:07:14 AM
2 votes:
FTFA Kelly said the boycott was made possible through a variety of technological and social media tools. Students used a spreadsheet on Google Drive to keep track of who had agreed to the boycott, for instance. And social networks were key to "get 100 percent confidence that you have 100 percent of the people on board" in a big class.

Because utilizing a spreadsheet and calling people have never been used in the history of organizing anything.  Evar.

/article fail
MBK [TotalFark]
2013-02-14 11:04:12 AM
2 votes:
Oh man, I would have LOVED to trolled the entire class and taken the test.
2013-02-14 11:02:50 AM
2 votes:
As with any true loophole it only works once, but the people who figured it out deserve congratulations on pulling it off.
2013-02-14 11:00:18 AM
2 votes:
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.
2013-02-14 10:56:48 AM
2 votes:
They also all got the lowest score, so everyone fails.

They also all got the Median score, so everyone gets a C
2013-02-14 11:31:10 PM
1 votes:

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.
2013-02-14 06:03:12 PM
1 votes:

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 04:01:25 PM
1 votes:

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 02:14:56 PM
1 votes:

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.


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.

If I earn a C and the rest of the class earns a D, I still only deserve a C, and they still only deserve a D. Same if I'm getting a D and someone else gets an A. Grading on a curve is great for informal stuff, but class grades have value outside of the class and in the rest of school\society, and farking it up is not something students tend to appreciate.
2013-02-14 01:46:44 PM
1 votes:
""I have changed my grading scheme to include 'everybody has 0 points means that everybody gets 0 percent,' " Fröhlich said,  "and I also added a clause stating that I reserve the right to give everybody 0 percent if I get the impression that the students are trying to 'game'  the system again." 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. "

Ahh so you change your rules like Vegas so the 'house' always wins?  Why not just grade by who you like the most?

Maybe, just maybe you learn something about your methods.  Ohh, you're a Professor you know everything.
2013-02-14 01:03:40 PM
1 votes:

Adolf Oliver Nipples: pyrotek85: 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.

Yeah I'm not sure what the point of it is unless it's to prop up bad students (ie everybody is a winner). The grades are supposed to reflect an individual's performance, where this is like you're grading the group as a single unit.

You are making the assumption, usually but not always correct, that tests actually test knowledge. In my experience, admittedly anecdotal, all tests prove is that people like me can easily pass without studying while the people on the bottom end of the class spend hours studying to get mediocre grades.

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


Normalizing grades should not be done. Testing is not a random process subject to statistical rules, no matter how much it may look like it.

I write my tests to ascertain whether the students learned everything I set out to teach them. That's what I test them on. If everybody learned everything I meant for them to, they all get A's (I can get away with this because it's graduate level).

If the highest score on the test is 90%, then that means everybody in the class failed to  learn 10% of what I meant to teach. I might adjust my teaching or my test next time around, but the grade stands.
2013-02-14 01:03:19 PM
1 votes:

Dear Jerk: The smartest, the stupidest, the strongest, the trolliest and the ethical all have good reason to break the boycott.


I don't see how. All you need is the smartest guy in the class sitting outside and ready to take the test if anyone crosses the "boycott" line.

(1) The smartest has a 100% chance of getting an A if the boycott is successful. Someone else might be better prepared, so if the smartest takes the test and competes, their chances of an A would be less than 100%.

(2) The stupidest definitely wants the boycott to succeed. They have a 100% chance of getting an A, and almost none if someone breaks the boycott.

(3) The "trolliest" only trolls the class if he breaks the boycott. By supporting the boycott he trolls the whole university as well as the professor. We wouldn't be discussing this here if the trolliest had decided to take the test.

(4) The ethical should be guided by what best serves the needs of the many. The rules were that if everyone boycotted, everyone would get an A. Thus the grading system is fundamentally flawed - it is linked to a defective rule and not to the actual performance of the students. Additionally, in a computer class, a participant would be expected to choose the best outcome in accordance with game theory fundamentals.
2013-02-14 12:15:49 PM
1 votes:

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.


Oh really?  Most curves work by setting the lowest score as the max and then adjusting the rest proportionally from 0 to 100.  The range in this case is 0, and mathematically anything/0 is undefined, so I could set their grades anywhere on the scale from 0 - 100 and still have mathematically graded on a curve.  I choose 0.
2013-02-14 12:09:26 PM
1 votes:

Mikey1969: Quaker: All they did was screw it up for everyone else in the future.

How? They exposed the same loophole that you're biatching about them using. That's all that changed, it's not like he took away the curve or started requiring everyone to take their tests under armed guard. He just closed that loophole.


That's true for now. But as a general rule, when you find a system that can be exploited, it's never helpful in the long run to take that exploitation to the extreme. They could have coordinated their efforts in a more subtle way so that everyone gets a reasonably good grade without necessarily alerting the professor to the collusion. Instead they risked ruining it for everyone else down the line so that they could all get A's.

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.


Semantics.
2013-02-14 11:55:48 AM
1 votes:

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.


This is that undergrad bullshiat where they demand an A because the tests are TOO HARD.

/do the work and you shouldn't have to worry about failing
2013-02-14 11:38:03 AM
1 votes:

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?


I bet you practically pop a gasket in the supermarket when you see somebody buying steaks and ice cream with food stamps.
2013-02-14 11:37:02 AM
1 votes:

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.


What you said.
2013-02-14 11:35:52 AM
1 votes:
hahaha, I used this same grading system on a group of about 60 people working for me.

I based it off the work they were doing (tickets, meetings, etc.). -It worked wonders.

They were used to people smoozing their way to the top without doing any real work. When this got implemented, those same jerks were revealed for their lack of work.

Tickets got done faster, people started attending meetings (I included grading for participation -meaning if you promised something at the last meeting and didn't have it or didn't show up, you got a zero that day), and I promoted the ones who worked.

The only ones not happy with the system were the lazy farks who eventually were either let go at the end of their contracts or left on their own.

Interestingly enough, when I started, I didn't know who to trust, so I had a meeting discussing our new way of working, and gave them a handwritten "test" on it (but I allowed them to cheat). I used the results for handwriting analysis... which works really well if you do it right by the way.

If only the rest of the business world was run this way.
2013-02-14 11:32:34 AM
1 votes:

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. I don't understand the logic in getting everyone to sit out.

/ never graded on a curve.
//am I misunderstanding it?


That's an adjustment, on a true curve the highest grade is always a 100 and the lowest grade is always a 0. Most professors who "grade on a curve" actually just adjust the mean grade to 2.8-3.2 depending on thethe performance of thethe class and then adjust everyone elses hrade relative to the mean.
2013-02-14 11:31:15 AM
1 votes:
FAIL tag beats ASININE?

Andrew Kelly, a student in Fröhlich's Introduction to Programming class who was one of the boycott's key organizers, explained the logic of the students' decision via e-mail: "Handing out 0's to your classmates will not improve your performance in this course," Kelly said.

If I were an employer, I'd be thrilled that this guy allowed his name to be used in the article, because he is so delusional I'd never consider for a moment hiring him.

Does he not realize exams are supposed to asses your understanding of the material taught in a class, and a grade is supposed to be a final reflection of your understanding of the material?

The professor should be rightly lambasted for his "curve" scheme as well- bringing the "A" grade down to the highest scoring student? Why should there be any reason to adjust the grading based on a particular group of students and their peers? If pre-med students taking anatomy were all idiots, and couldn't do better than a 60% at any time, you'd be damn sure I'd want most of them to fail, because they clearly do not understand the material. As such, I don't want them to be able to become doctors until they do. Not that employers place a great deal of importance on grades anyway, but saying you got a 3.5 GPA in our field of study when in reality it was just because everyone you took classes with was as stupid as you is tantamount to lying about your academic history.

There are times when a curve is acceptable- when the test has mistakes on it, or is worded so poorly that you can't help but get the question wrong. This is evidenced by a huge proportion of the entire test-taking base getting that question wrong, and generating a statistical aberration in the scoring. You then curve the scored upward by the value of the questions missed. This is how the SAT, ACT, and most other standardized tests do it.

The icing on the cake is the fact that this was an INTRODUCTORY level course, not some 500-level advanced programming study. If you can't handle the intro courses in your major, it's time to change majors.

/had a math teacher who always offered to curve our test scores
//he'd mention he was planning on using a bell curve to statistically normalize them
///we never took him up on it
2013-02-14 11:19:11 AM
1 votes:

Quaker: All they did was screw it up for everyone else in the future.


How? They exposed the same loophole that you're biatching about them using. That's all that changed, it's not like he took away the curve or started requiring everyone to take their tests under armed guard. He just closed that loophole.
2013-02-14 11:17:55 AM
1 votes:

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.
2013-02-14 11:15:16 AM
1 votes:

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. I don't understand the logic in getting everyone to sit out.

/ never graded on a curve.
//am I misunderstanding it?


It depends - essentially the highest score is now "100%", and everything else is graded relative to that score. So, if everyone is clustered in a normal distribution then the curve should help.

In my experience, professors that graded on a curve generally wrote extremely difficult exams, and expected that the highest marks would be around 50-60% of the total. If, however, you happen to be in class with a freakin' genius who performs well above that expectation, then your grade would be totally shot. (Granted, *most* professors who do this will account for outliers and retool the curve so that it's more normally distributed...      sounds like this guy might not do that, however.)

(Lot of assumptions in here, I know...)
2013-02-14 11:14:41 AM
1 votes:

USCLaw2010: This wouldn't have worked in Law School, too many douche bags.


No need... Harvard and many other "top" law schools now don't grade first year, so that a huge percentage of their students applying for summer associate positions can legitimately claim that they're at the top of their class.
2013-02-14 11:14:26 AM
1 votes:

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.
2013-02-14 11:11:26 AM
1 votes:

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


If they keep "leveling the playing feild", it will lower the standards enough to where it will work.
2013-02-14 11:09:14 AM
1 votes:
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.
2013-02-14 11:08:13 AM
1 votes:

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.
2013-02-14 11:03:59 AM
1 votes:
DussoJanladde:
Did you read TFA?

So many words.  I skimmed it.
2013-02-14 11:03:59 AM
1 votes:
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
2013-02-14 11:01:45 AM
1 votes:
I can somewhat understand grading on a curve, since many exams have different "correct" answers than what's written in the textbook, but the professor should have at least had a rule stating that anyone not present at the time of the exam gets a grade of "Absent", thus ineligible to get any score on the test.
2013-02-14 11:00:52 AM
1 votes:
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. I don't understand the logic in getting everyone to sit out.

/ never graded on a curve.
//am I misunderstanding it?
2013-02-14 10:55:16 AM
1 votes:
This wouldn't have worked in Law School, too many douche bags.
 
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