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Letter from the Editor-In-Chief: Are Grades a Necessary Evil? - Russell L. Herman (2013)

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Autor:   •  September 8, 2018  •  Article Review  •  449 Words (2 Pages)  •  63 Views

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Ofeliya Bakhshaliyeva

Section I

WRIT 101

November 4, 2016


 In his article “Letter from the Editor-in-Chief: Are Grades a Necessary Evil?”, Russell L. Herman (2013) discusses the necessity and importance of grading system and its impact on both teachers and students. Despite the fact that this is one of the most debatable issues in our contemporary world, the application of grades is mere broad. For instance, it is possible to use grades for comparing achievement level among students or as an incentive to work harder. As time passes, assessment criteria renew continually. From the 18th century till now, examination types and rules are changing. Therefore, grades adjust to them. Nowadays, letter and pass/fail grades are used mostly.

According to the author, distributing percentage rate for in-course assignments depends fully on the instructor and should be indicated in the course outline. Nevertheless, inborn intelligence does not play any role in terms of assessment. The author states that sometimes, teachers think that if some students get an excellent mark and others fail to do so, bell curve might help us. Other instructors can let all students to get high or low grades and in most cases, these situations are highly disapproved.

Another popular issue is grade inflation. Sufficient research is done on this topic. As an example, in former professor of Duke University, Stuart Rojstaczer’s research (2002), it is clearly reported that the was a 0.17 increase in terms of average GPA from 1930 to 1950. Also, Rojstaczer and Healy (2010) had indicated that there was 0.12 increase in GPA in public universities and 0.15 in private universities for a period of fifteen years. However, Hu (2006) explains that grade inflation is divided into four pieces, which are grade inflation, grade compression , grade increase and grade disparity. When grade increase is just growth in grades, inflation is positive change in GPA without comparable rise in performance. Furthermore, grade compression happens when there is an increase in grades, however, distinction in personal achievement is hard to differentiate. Grade disparity occurs when for the same rank of performance student is awarded differently from various professors.

As a sample, the author presents table and figure in which GPAs are displayed in the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC and changes in grade groups in the same university from 2001 to 2007, respectively. Nevertheless, noticing an increase in SAT scores, the short period of time, and rising trend of grades, there was not enough evidence that increase in high grades is in consequence of either grade inflation or the alteration in student traits.

Herman concludes the article again by stating the fact that grades should motivate students and help teachers in planning and arrangement of their courses.


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