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Grading: To Curve or Not to Curve

Captain Adverse

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Glen Contrarian

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Which is better, curve or criterion-based grading, and why?


Side note: This is funny: https://www.insidehighered.com/news...l-challenge-professors-grading-policy-and-get

That's not an easy question to answer. Sure, the easy answer is to be completely above-board, and one gets the grades one earns, and that's that.

That sounds good in theory...but...let's say that a teacher has some students from a privileged background where the parents are well-educated, and other students from a poverty-stricken background, and whose parents - even if they're still together - never went to college. Of course neither situation is a strong indicator of success or failure (two of our last three presidents grew up in broken homes), but certain factors (especially the lack of education of the parent(s)) certainly load the dice against the children.

But a school cannot - MUST not - have a policy allowing grading on a curve. So what to do? Same thing that I did back in the Navy, when I would see a good kid do something stupid that would ruin his career if it got out, and who I was fairly sure would learn from it and not make the same mistake again: do what's necessary to give the kid another chance, sometimes even if I had to put my own career on the line to do so. I did this more than once, and I'd do it again in the same situations. When it comes to kids in school, if the teacher does so, the teach must do so with the full understanding that he or she is putting his career on the line if caught...and that kid must never know what you did for him or her, so that he or she would not come to depend on "grading on a curve".

So...yeah, in certain rare situations, I'd support doing it...but only if that teacher is willing to put his or her career on the line if caught, and never, ever tells the kid.
 

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You should get the grade you deserve, based on your effort and knowledge of the subject matter. Screw the curve.

I agree with this... using a curve is , to me, just saying that the instructor/teacher/professor improperly did not properly create an appropriate (appropriate difficulty or design )test for the students and so had to use grading on the curve to make up for their own shortcomings of the curriculum and testing.
 

Carjosse

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As a student in a university I think I should give my two cents. I have benefited from a curve but I usually get good grades anyways.

There are two types of curves, one applied to the whole class's final mistake, or one applied to one or two questions on the exam. In my experience the whole class curve is very rare unless it is a very large core class then the administration likes having nice normal distributions but can vary by department at my school that would be the economics departments while the business department tends to only do the second option if at all. The second form of curving is used retroactively on questions that upon review were poorly worded, too misleading, or were not thoroughly discussed by the professors. They can usually figure this out by looking at how many students got it completely wrong or only got a few part marks and if even the better performing students had a hard time it means there may be something wrong with the question. For example in my accounting class one question was found to be too poorly worded so they curved that one specific question. They only use the first form of curving if something went horribly wrong or to prevent grade inflation, I have had one exam like that too.
 

RenoCon

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Which is better, curve or criterion-based grading, and why?


Side note: This is funny: https://www.insidehighered.com/news...l-challenge-professors-grading-policy-and-get

I think the grading should go like this so as not to commit micro aggression and offend any of the tender minds in our college's. If you are from a privileged environment and work your ass off and get a 100% on a test or in a class, you should be paired up with a less privileged individual who decided to sit around and smoke some weed with his friends before the big test. Then when the less privileged gets a 60% on the test we would simply average the scores and give an 80% to each of them. This would be the ultimate "curve" and would be consistent with the liberal/progressive views on many of our college campuses such as income redistribution. We can call this "grade redistribution" and I am sure it would become very popular. :-J
 

Redress

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One of my favorite classes in college was my econ 1 and 2 classes, for the stuff I learned, for the instructor(worked in the Nixon administration as a low level economic advisor, had great stories), and because the tests where insanely hard. Without a curve, very few would have passed, but with a curve, it allowed the best students to separate themselves and do better. You earned your grade in that class, more than any class I ever took. Curve grading serves a purpose, but should be done in only only in those cases. In most cases, you get what I did in first term calc, which is the curve helped hide the fact the teacher royally sucked.
 

Carjosse

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One of my favorite classes in college was my econ 1 and 2 classes, for the stuff I learned, for the instructor(worked in the Nixon administration as a low level economic advisor, had great stories), and because the tests where insanely hard. Without a curve, very few would have passed, but with a curve, it allowed the best students to separate themselves and do better. You earned your grade in that class, more than any class I ever took. Curve grading serves a purpose, but should be done in only only in those cases. In most cases, you get what I did in first term calc, which is the curve helped hide the fact the teacher royally sucked.

It was the exact same for my introductory economics courses. My professor was an economic advisor to the Klein government in Alberta. His favourite stories were always of the "I told you so" genre, I imagine his class is even more interesting now that the Alberta economy has collapsed and those stories have gotten more relevant.
 

radcen

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One of my favorite classes in college was my econ 1 and 2 classes, for the stuff I learned, for the instructor(worked in the Nixon administration as a low level economic advisor, had great stories), and because the tests where insanely hard. Without a curve, very few would have passed, but with a curve, it allowed the best students to separate themselves and do better. You earned your grade in that class, more than any class I ever took. Curve grading serves a purpose, but should be done in only only in those cases. In most cases, you get what I did in first term calc, which is the curve helped hide the fact the teacher royally sucked.
In this type of case, is the term "best" relative? For example, if the tests are insanely hard, and the highest score is 70%, did the "best" student really learn what they were supposed to? If the highest score of 70% received an 'A', seems to me they didn't actually earn their grade, they got a pass.
 

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You should get the grade you deserve, based on your effort and knowledge of the subject matter. Screw the curve.

There's a problem with that kind of "black & white" thinking.

The teacher.

How well did the teacher present the material that was on the test?

I think the curve reflects what was taught and how well. Also reflects what wasn't taught and/or how poorly.

I see the curve as a reflection of the teacher not so much the students.

Poor job teaching, bigger curve. Great job teaching smaller curve.
 

countryboy

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That's not an easy question to answer. Sure, the easy answer is to be completely above-board, and one gets the grades one earns, and that's that.

That sounds good in theory...but...let's say that a teacher has some students from a privileged background where the parents are well-educated, and other students from a poverty-stricken background......

No need to read any further. :roll:
 

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You should get the grade you deserve, based on your effort and knowledge of the subject matter. Screw the curve.

And I thought the left was for sharing ? :shock: I hear them constantly whining about the rich and successful . :roll: Some want to party all the time and then think they are entitled to everything , so why not grades they haven't earned ? :lamo
 

countryboy

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If a post is that ridiculously nonsensical within the first couple of sentences, what are the chances the rest has any value whatsoever? Slim to none. ;)
 

countryboy

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Yeah, because in right-wing fantasy world, growing up in a well-to-do, well-educated family gives precisely zero advantages to their children over those where the parents are poor and not well-educated. Mm-hmm....
Right, and only in lib lala land are so-called "advantaged" children punished for the failings of others, through no fault of their own.

Lemme guess, every kid should get an award for academic achievement no matter what their performance?
 

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In this type of case, is the term "best" relative? For example, if the tests are insanely hard, and the highest score is 70%, did the "best" student really learn what they were supposed to? If the highest score of 70% received an 'A', seems to me they didn't actually earn their grade, they got a pass.

If you got a 70 % on his test, you knew the material required for passage well, the trivia less so. They where designed hard tests that used right minus wrong to eliminate guessing.
 

Glen Contrarian

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Right, and only in lib lala land are so-called "advantaged" children punished for the failings of others, through no fault of their own.

Lemme guess, every kid should get an award for academic achievement no matter what their performance?

Yeah, giving a disadvantaged kid a break by doing something for him sure meets the definition of "punishing" advantaged kids, huh?
 
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