Friday, February 20, 2009

On why your grade is not an entitlement...

Here's an interesting report in the New York Times today, reflecting something we experience routinely these days - a mismatch between what grade students expect to get for a class and what they actually earn!! Here's an excerpt - but read the entire article:

‘Many students come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark,’ Professor Grossman said. ‘Some assert that they have never gotten a grade as low as this before.’

He attributes those complaints to his students’ sense of entitlement.

‘I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,’ he said. ‘That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.’

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.


Sarah Kinn, a junior English major at the University of Vermont, agreed, saying, “I feel that if I do all of the readings and attend class regularly that I should be able to achieve a grade of at least a B.”

At Vanderbilt, there is an emphasis on what Dean Hogge calls “the locus of control.” The goal is to put the academic burden on the student.

“Instead of getting an A, they make an A,” he said. “Similarly, if they make a lesser grade, it is not the teacher’s fault. Attributing the outcome of a failure to someone else is a common problem.”

For my part as a professor, I agree with this at the end and am trying to convey the same to all my classes:

...students must “read for knowledge and write with the goal of exploring ideas." ...

...if students developed a genuine interest in their field, grades would take a back seat, and holistic and intrinsically motivated learning could take place.

(Via NYT.)



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