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April 11, 1988 - Image 19

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-04-11

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APRIL 1988 News Features



IA-F grading system flunks student's evaluation
By Steve Fifield of teachers to challenge students with learning. learning.
The Minnesota Daily relevant material and to present it in While the A-F grading system is Learning is not eaE
U. of Minnesota, Twin Cities creative and stimulating ways. It is the deeply entrenched in the education sys- attempts are often ina

sy and first
adequate. No

For students, death and taxes are not
the only certainties in life. Grades can
be added to this pair to create an un-
pleasant trio. The efficacy of the A-F
rading system has been uncritically
accepted by most educators, students
and parents; it is tightly linked with our
notion of education, while labeling stu-
dents as "winners," "losers" or "just
average" in the process.
Why do schools give grades? The most
cynical explanation-that students
would not do any work without the sti-
mulus a grading system provides-
points to some very serious flaws in our
Iormal education system. It is the task
Pressing for education on federal
agenda ... Seeking a greater role for higher
education in this year's presidential campaignr a
group of higher education leaders has issued a
challenge to President Reagan's successor. In a
recently released report, the 33-member Commis-
sion on National Challenges in Higher Education,
which includes college presidentsand faculty as well
as representatives of organized labor and business
called for a "new spirit of partnership between the
federal government and higher education." The re-
pot calls for the federal government to expand aid to
colleges and students and to find new ways of
supporting higher education. Declaring that "educa-
tion must be seen as a vital investment in the
country's future." the report urges the next president
to adopt a policy that increases funding for student
aid, teacher training, research and building. .P.A.
Humphrey, The Shorthorn, U. of Texas,
Geography: Where are we? ... In
separate surveys of students' geographic knowledge
at the U. of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, California State U.
and Mankato State U., some students were unable to
find the Soviet Union on a map, thought Nicaragua
was an island off the coast of India, didn't know who
was the United States' leading trade partner (Cana-
da) and placed the Bering Straits off the coast of
Maine. .Editorial Staff, Mirror, U. of
Northern Colorado
Heated over summer rule ... At times
the heat is unbearable-not to mention the humid-
ity-but if you're a U. of Florida student, more than
likely yoult spend at least one summer semester in
stuffy campus classrooms. That's because ofsa rule
which requires state university students to sweat out
nine credit hours during the summer. The Board of
Regents' summer attendance rule went into effect 11
yearn ago. It was a safeguard, witen to make sre
the universities wouldn't sit empty duringkthesum-
mer. It also assured some sort of income-through
tuition-during the summer. .Joe Newman,
The Alligator, U. of Florida
Phone-in classes? ... Washington State
U. students may soon be able to call in their class
schedules, rather than stand in long lines at the
coliseum, through an on-line telephone registration
system. According to Registrar C. James Quann, the
principle behind telephone registration is to give the
student the final decision over which courses and
sections to take. .Julie Bailey, Daily Ever-
green, Washington State U.
Tempers flare overtest file ... The U.
of Colorado Student Union test file has become an
integral part of many students' final-exam strategy.
And some professors aren't pleased. The test file
houses hundreds of exams donated by studentsoand
sometimes by professors themselves. .Kristen
Black, Colorado Daily, U. of Colorado
Will I or shall I? ... If you often find
yourself confused about such grammatical ques-
tions and other Standard American English rules,
there is a new group at Eastern Kentucky U. that may
help you better understand the English language.
The new organization, Roberts Circle, which is
named after the cel brated American grammarian r.
Paul Roberts, is open to any major. .Lisa Bor-
ders, The Eastern Progress, Eastern
Kentucky U.

task of students to leave the mind-
numbing attractions of our video cul-
ture behind and engage wholeheartedly
in their own education-a worthwhile
goal in its own right.
Grades serve as verdicts rather than
diagnostic aids. A "C" on an exam prob-
ably indicates misconceptions a student
should clear up before continuing on to
new material. Given a chance to review
the material in light of mistakes, that
person could become a "B" student. Un-
fortunately, some instructors believe
this approach is too easy on students-
an attitude arising from the mistaken
notion that the purpose of teaching is to
assign grades rather than promote

tem, instructors can make their courses
more positive experiences for students.
The first obstacle many college instruc-
tors must overcome is the tendency to
teach as they were taught. Today's pro-
fessors need to think about alternative
teaching techniques.
All instructors should consider pro-
ducing a set of specific learning objec-
tives for their courses and make these
available to students on the first day of
class. Professors should also clearly
state and justify the competence level
required to earn a certain grade.
The best courses incorporate instruc-
tional objectives, criterion-referenced
grading and some form of mastery

group of people should understand this
better than professors who have strug-
gled to complete articles, grant propos-
als or books only to have them rejected
and returned for revision. Grades stick
with students for a long time, and stu-
dents are entitled to give their best
possible performance before receiving a
final grade.
Using the A-F grading system in a
more equitable way will require the
cooperation of professors, students and
administrators. Innovative teaching
must be valued as much as the research
money pulled in by the faculty. Now is
the time to be more open-minded and
creative about teaching.

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