Some choice comments and observations below the fold:
San Diego's H.E. Baber:
Grading. From the perspective of an American academic, grading creates a serious conflict of interests. On the one hand, we’re teachers: we want students to understand the stuff, get excited about the stuff, and do well. On the other hand we’re agents of the university which functions as an employment pre-screening and credentialing agency, ranking students who are after scarce resources: jobs and places in graduate and professional programs. So, we have to produce a spread of grades and make sure that a sufficient percentage of students get bad ones. At my place in particular we’re under constant pressure to keep a lid on grade-inflation.Brandon:
I teach at a community college, and the conflict between the aims of education and of certification represented by grades is very acute here. What is more, grading often obscures rather than conveys information about student learning; from learning that Student A got an A in an Intro course at one college and that Student B got an A in an Intro course at another (or very often even at the same college, from different instructors), and nothing more, one has learned nothing about their education. You don’t know what they’ve learned, you don’t know how they have been challenged, you don’t know the skills they’ve picked up. The two grades are not commensurable, but we treat them as if they were, and when we do, it’s just pseudo-information, pseudo-knowledge.Baber's remarks in particular struck a chord. It's frustrating to be playing roles with antithetical aims: the students' educational partner and the students' performance evaluator.