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t3knomanser's Fustian Deposits

Bullshit alert

How Random Babbling Becomes Corporate Policy

run the fuck away

Mad science gone horribly, horribly wrong(or right).

Bullshit alert

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johnny cash
metaphorge and I would have been fired from Benedict college recently, had we been employed there. However, two professors that worked there were fired last week. Why you ask?

They refused to reward students based on effort.. That's right, the school wanted grades to be more dependant on effort (60% of the grade should be based on effort for freshmen, 50% for sophomores else). And some professors said, "No, that's dumb." And got canned.

Let us put this in perspective. Should an unemployed individual be paid just because he tries very hard to find a job? Should a doctor that tries very hard but has yet to save a patient be rewarded for this? And going the opposite direction, should a student who puts no effort in, but does well on exams and assignments be penalized because they put in poor effort?

Not to go all objectivist or anything, but there's a bit of a hazard basing a quantitative system on something strictly qualitative- like effort.
  • Luke: All right, I'll give it a try.
    Yoda: No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.

    I had an awful teacher be allowed to grade me partially based on "classwork" when that grade was determined by what she called "effort" instead of what work I would turn in. She wanted to grade me a continual failing in "class effort" so no matter what grades I would get in assignments she could give me a bare "C" - and only that barely at the end, since she was also downgrading my assignments. She had an assistant teacher who would continually grade the same assignments of mine A's and so she told me I couldn't turn mine in to *her* anymore. Her name was Sue Frankel .. when someone's ticked me off enough for me to wait for hours just for the chance to talk to their boss to try to get them fired, you bet even years later, I'll remember their name), she was crazy enough to tell me that barely allowing me a C was what she was planning to do to both me and another student from the very beginning when I met up with her after class. After that bizarre after class discussion in her office, I went to the dean's office - I was really upset. The Dean told me to audit the class (I did), but that it was too late in the class for me to get my tuition for it back (that was a rip off).

    So I guess I really applaud your view. "Effort" counts, but it doesn't, and shouldn't, win the money. To earn the grade you still should have to have DEMONSTRATED results. If someone holds a book up, that's fine and a good start, but if they can't read it, they shouldn't be passed, and that is all there is to it.
    • Fortunately, I've never had a teacher that fucked up. I didn't mind so much when teachers would throw in a "effort slush" to the grades- if you were really putting in the effort, and it wasn't coming out in the tests, even though the teacher felt you were capable, they'd bump you up a point or two- maybe pass you if you were right on the line of failing, that sort of thing.

      I don't mind that. But to _dock_ points because of "effort", when it's unquantifiable, is foolish. You can't tell, by looking at a final product, how much effort went into it. It's easy to tell if it doesn't meet the objectives- and that implies that not enough effort was spent on it, but it does not mean that no effort was spent. Someone may have sweated their lifeblood into a substandard product, and I'm sorry, but in the real world, that's too bad.

      I'm not the sort that feels that they're in competition with the other students; if a teacher wants to bump someone up a few points because they really tried, I don't mind. No teacher likes to fail a student if they can avoid it.

      Even better however, are teachers that give a variety of assignments, using many different methods, so that students that aren't good at in-class presentations can make it up with papers, and students that don't test well can earn points for classroom participation.
  • I wonder how long I'd last as a teacher. I'd target my grading system as such:

    F- You don't know the subject from your ass.
    D- You have a passing familiarity with a few terms, but nothing truly useful
    C- Average. You have a basic understanding of the subject, and show potential for further learning. You can be called competent.
    B- Above average. You can make use of it in your daily life, and function comfortably in a job if the subject was the area of employment. You fill all requirements completely.
    A- Excellent- You show potential to be a succesful manager or instructor in a field related to the subject. You draw connections between this subject and widely varying life experiences and other subjects without prompting. Your work goes meets the requirements and steps beyond the strict requirements.

    These explanations aren't absolutely firm of course, they are just meant as a general indication of my ideal grading philosophy. It would of course have to be tailored to the subject at hand and the end goal of the class.

    A C would not be a bad grade from me, it would mean what it is supposed to, average! If I was consistently getting classes that scored higher or lower than a C on average(as opposed to an isolated class of geniuses or dumbasses), I'd adjust the course to make it harder or easier as appropriate to get the average grades into the C range.

    Now a huge effort to succeed should certainly have some effect, but directly being figured into your grade is problematic, even ignoring the subjective nature of it. You pass with a 4.0 average, that should be a sign that you really know your stuff, not that you refuse to give up. Effort should, however, be taken into account when determining if a student is worth some extra time to help with difficult parts, and be formally considered in any appeals of expulsion for poor performance or even behavior if the student is trully doing all they can to do better. Its like they handle it in USMC boot camp. In the end, it comes down to raw performance. But, if your performance is weak but you are putting forth a lot of effort, the DIs will not give up on you, and will patiently teach you the same thing fifty times after everyone else has gotten it. The performance is what matters, but putting forth a herculean effort will get the DI's to help you improve your performance until it reaches the standard.
  • There's nothing wrong with considering the effort put into a class when deciding upon a grade. But let's be reasonable. It's one thing to say "hey, this student doesn't do the reading, or come to class or make any attempt to engage in discussion with either the class or me about the material even though he's aced all the exams" and perhaps nick the student's grade on something like "Class Participation". But we're going to be reasonable. If a student puts all the effort in the world into something but is dumb as a brick (and this is plausible, I know a couple of these) and the professor gives them a good overall grade when someone who does the same amount of work actually comprehends the material gets the very same grade, that's just stupidity.

    Of course, I was one of those kids who put no effort in and skated by with A's and B+'s, so maybe I'm a little testy. Or academically elitist.
    • Well, class participation, and being able to discuss the readings isn't "effort" exactly- that's required behavior. Effort, to me, implies a judge based on how hard the student worked- by this grading system, if two students handed in identical work, and one of them just banged it out in half an hour, and the other slaved over it for a week- even if the quality is the same- the student that slaved gets more credit?
  • Students who work hard (ie show up to every class, take notes and speak up once in a while, and hand in assignments completed and on time) are noticed for it. They are given opportunities to make up bad grades that lazy fuckwits are not. They're usually given whatever help they ask for, whether it's a few days' extension on a paper, the grad assistant's notes for a missed class, or office hours to discuss difficult material. When final grade time comes, hard workers get the benefit of the doubt when it's a difference between a high plus and a low minus. They have a much better chance of being able to beg their grade a bit higher, since they can point to their good record.

    It can't be broken down into simple percentages without fucking up a system that already works well.
    • Still though, we're looking at quantifiable things. I don't care how _hard_ you worked to get to class, you could have rolled out of your dorm room and landed in your desk, or you could have commutted an hour- it's the actual showing up that matters.

      Effort will obviously affect your grade- if you don't put out effort, you probably won't get a good grade- unless you're unusually good at school. The effort, however, should be evident in the product.
      • Hard work doesn't make up for lack of skill/talent/ability. Hard work can't even be measured or compared with any degree of accuracy or precision. Even defining what hard work means is tricky. No one collects the sweat from your brow. Even the things I listed aren't really the evidence of hard work, just things that any serious student should be doing to get the most out of a rather expensive education.

        Grades' value seems to be twofold: They are supposed to let you know how well you're doing, and they're supposed to be an indicator to your future employer of your areas of competence (or incompetence). As a measure for self-assessment, you know better than your teacher whether your "effort" was sufficient. As a measure of your competence for your future employer, grades should reflect your actual achievement. No matter how hard I try, I am never going to be a concert pianist, so my piano teacher shouldn't give me straight A's if that's going to waste my time or a potential employer's.

        Folks who don't bother with those basic "effort indicators" I mentioned earlier have put school work at low priority. If they achieve A work, give them the A they earned by mastering the material and completing the assignments. But if they don't, grade them accordingly. If they want extensions and last-minute tutoring sessions, don't feel obligated because they didn't take advantage of lectures, office hours, study time, etc. when it was freely available.

        Folks who do bother with them may or may not do well. By no means inflate their grades because their attentions have flattered you. But let them have whatever extra opportunities you can give to overcome their difficulties and prove their hard-won competence. After all, those who struggle with something often come out with a deeper understanding of it, and are as much of value to future employers as those who are fast learners and have an intuitive grasp.
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