In an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled “So many hands to hold in the classroom,” Lynda Lambert argues that she is seeing a significant uptick in the number of students who cannot think for themselves and demand from the instructor a road map that will lead to an “A.” She writes, “Unfortunately, following a map may teach them how to navigate, but it does not teach them how to drive. Few students seem to be able to find their way through their courses anymore without that map. And, interestingly, they hold the instructor responsible for their lack of learning if she does not provide GPS coordinates.”
Are we seeing this in our Penn classrooms, is the writer being curmudgeonly, what do you think?
Provocative article about grading. I don’t agree with his solution, but its still a valuable article for talking about a problem that we all wrestle with as instructors.
Filed under Grades, Pedagogy
In her article “Making the Grade” in the Chronicle of Higher Educationon May 22, 2012, Laurie Fendrich begins with a situation which we can all recognize from our own experience: “On the last day of class, before finals began, a student asked me if it was possible to rewrite one of the essays for a course that had included three essays, a midterm, a final examination, and seminar discussions. “I need an ‘A’ for my scholarship,” the student announced.” Fendrich then goes on to ponder the question of determining the final grade in a humanities course. Her questions and insights are useful; she concludes,
“While I leave to philosophers the business of quarreling over the merits of Hume’s essay, the essay helps us see why it’s wrong to see grades as so inherently flawed by subjectivity that they’re unreliable. Admittedly, grades are only so good as the graders. Like excellent judgments having to do with taste that are made by excellent judges, grades given in the humanities, given by excellent and responsible professors, contain elements of subjectivity, but are anchored very near the truth about the quality of a student’s work.
It would be better for students if they understood the simultaneous roughness and accuracy of grades. It would certainly be better if they approached their final course grades not as moments to complain about the inherent unfairness of grades, or of a given teacher, but rather as occasions when they should be asking, “Where am I now? Where am I heading? Where do I want to end up?” The final grade is already history. The questions, on the other hand, are ongoing.”