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February 28, 1915 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1915-02-28

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mE MC )i 1 0DAILY

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6H 19LCK SPEAK ~ '~ '
s Cellege President Will Talk Editor, The Michigan Daily:-
[. E. Church and Author at
Presbyterian There exists among the student body
at the present time a widespread dis-
VISITORS WELL KNOWN satisfaction with the grades which

wo men, prominent in both relig-
s and educational activities will be
rd by Ann Arbor audiences to-
ht, when Dr. H. A. Garfield, presi-
t of Williams college will speak at
o'clock in the Methodist church
the Wesleyan Guild series, and Dr.
;h Black, noted author and preach-
will speak at 7:45 o'clock in the
sbyterian church as lecturer on
Tappan lecture course.
r. Garfield is the eldest son of the
ner president of the United States,
a brother of James R. Garfield,
i spoke at the recent Washington's
hday celebration held by the law.
oil. In 1903, he became professor
olitics at Princeton university, and
Illed that position until his election
president of his alma mater, Wil-
is college, in 1908. The subject of
address tonight will be "Righteous
r. Hugh Black is well-known to
Arbor audiences, this being his
enth" visit here. He is one of the
essors at Union Theological Sem-
y, and is prominent throughout
country for the book which he has
ten on "Friendship."



have recently been given out. Now
while it is doubtless true, as has been
pointed out, that a student will nat-
urally be more or less dissatisfied
when a low estimate is placed upon
his work, yet it seems doubtful if such
general distrust as now exists can be
ascribed entirely to this cause. Al-
though there has been a great deal of
discussion pro and con, yet I feel that
no student has met the issue squarely
or offered anything constructive,
therefore I trust that no one will con-
sider the following to be out, of placo
or that the author is over-presump-
tious in criticising such a long-estab-
lisheda and widely-sanctioned institu-
It should be remembered at the out-
set that any situation which makes it
necessary for one individual to place
an estimate upon the ability or knowl-
edge of another must, from the very
nature of the factors involved, result
in some error and consequently some
injustice. Despite occasional injus-
tice, however, man cannot abolish the
institution, as it is necessary to the
realization of more important ends.
His only opportunity of improvement
lies in the reduction of the human ele-
ment to a minimum. The question
confronting us is not, should our grad-
ing system be abolished; but instead,
is it the best system which can be de-
vised to meet all of the requirements
of the situation.
One of the first essentials of any
grading system is that a given mark
shall always have one definite mean-
ing and one meaning only. Failure in
this respect defeats the very purpose
for which the mark is instituted. Our
present system with its single scale
of values is very defective in this re-
spect. The three chief reasons for this
are: (1) The small number of grades
at the teacher's disposal; (2) the vary-
ing standards among teachers by
which they estimate a given grade;
(3) the tendency for a given teacher to
fail at different times to place the
same value upon the various factors
entering into his judgment as to what
the mark ought to be.
The first one of these defects arises
out of the fact that the teacher has only
five grades at his disposal. Regard-
less of the size or variety of his class
he must associate each pupil with one
of these grades whether it exactly fits
him or not. That the number is too
small is evinced by the almost uni-
versal tendency among teachers to use
the + and - signs. It seems to be a
universal proposition that the definite-
ness of any class term varies inversely
as its comprehensiveness. Applying
this principle to the case in hand we
see that any given grade, because it is
forced to cover so much territory, is
necessarily vague and indefinite. The
marking system does not lend itself to

fine distinctions or show the exact and P (paor), to represent the quanti
character of the student's work. For tative aspects? The former would
re preent primarily the student's abil
instance a grade ofC ,ay mean ejiher . pursue to ad 'a work in th
fly tprs tavantagewoknth
that a student of exceptional ability fieid represented by the given course
has failed to apply himself properly, and would cosist of such elements a
or that the student has litle or no reasoning power, g zmius, originality
natural aptitude for work in that field and scholarshi. The iatter or quanti.
of st udy. Likewise, a grade of A may tative series would represent such ele-
mean either that the student reeiving ment s a appliation, faithfulness
the grade has great ability, or that, ,omplieness on f or.k, pomptness ir
with little or no aptitudo for pursuing preparing written assiguments, at-
work in that field of study, he has kept tendance etc.
''plodding" away until he was able to Now while this Ci ^ion is perhaps
reproduce the ideas which constitut d not so general as to apply with equal
the subject matter of the corse. Tlmus force in all fields yet I venture to as-
it is seen that the present system is sort that it is a fundamental and basic
too inflexible to represent all of the ine of separation having its basis in
important factors involved, and cone- (1 rep psycho ogeal facts. The faculty
quently the mark which a student re- of eah department could decide just
ceives is ambiguous. wha fats would count in each series
This ambiguity is further increased and the relative weight to be given to
by the fact that different teachers do earo. Thus in the literary 'college the
not have the same conception of what t- oamin elements might be artistic
should constitute the earning of a giv-- talent and faithfulness, respectively;
en grade. For one class of teachers in rhetotic, creative imagination and
the A student is the one who can re- fai hlfulness; in athletics, strength or
prodnee in a more or ass encyclopedic skill ind faithfulness. In most of the
manner a of the ideas he has been egular subje9ts it would be, as pointed
given in the course. With this tye f out aboe,. ability and application or
teacher the "grind" and the student faithfulness. The dual aspects are
with the long memory and short eas' always present, whether the unit of
oning power, will be highly rated. At the satude('t's work being considered is
the other extreme is that class o (1) an answer to an oral question in
teachers, fortunately much greater in a quiz section, (2) an examination, (3)
number, who place a high estimate a written assignment or (4) a term's
upon reasoning power and originality. woo'k. The various segments in each
Between these extremes, in a grad- series can be easily blended into one
ually changing series, could be ar- hftial nark.
ranged all other teacher; each of The dual sya tem will overcome each
which wil tend to assign a different o i' thr eakesses of the present
value upon the same work, accord- system. The first one, which grew out
ingly as he leans to one or the other of the paucity of grades at the disposal
of the two iteala, The former class, o the teacher, wil be remedied, for,
who judge a paper quantitatively, de- although there are only four terms in
duct a great deal if a question is not each serieset these willp16
fully and completely answered in all eayh peries, yet o s c illpermithof
of its ramifications; the latter would peou tations or combinations. Thusf
place a high value upon penetration uality Quntity
and creative reasoning which showed A an
the student had ability even though he A G passed
should happen to overlook part of a s
question or perhaps could not answer
another at all.
ante l l.1) P not passed
The following incident, which oc- t f n assnb
curred recently at the university, not
only illustrates the evil under consid- gades:
eration but also explains why students
question the infallibility of the marks A#G CG DG
which they receive. M b CM DM
A student, who thought his final Al ' rIC"P DP -
mark too low, protested to the pro- wud one of these combinations
fessor in charge of the department w ould be infintly more meaningful
who very kindly condescended to go than the grades now given out. For
over his final examination paper with exa ple, a student receiving a final
him. In doing this his grade was re- tirade of AM would realize that, al-
duced 10 points, One question which though he had not worked hard
tad been given a grade of 10 by the enoagh during that particular semes-
instructor who previously graded the ter, that he had ability to pursue work
paper, was red'_ced to 0 by the pro- in that field, thus assisting him in find-
Lessor on the grounds that the student, ing himself. If he received DG he
although he had coviered the answer, would know that he was out of his ele-
had left out an important step, or at ment despite the fact that he had
least had not gone into it deeply worked assidiously. A grade of AE
enough in reasoning out his answer. would be much more desired than the
If this difference in estimating a pup- present A, while DP would be more
il's work would occur within a given dreaded than the present D.
department where the teachers are in The way in which the dual system
constant association what would it be would oercome the second objection
between the various departments? viz., the varying standards among
The third weakness of the present teachers, is best illustrated by applying
system, and one which is far more it to the case mentioned above, in
inherent in the system itself than the which lt( instructor gave a grade of
one just considered, and hence less 10 and the professor 0 for the same
capable of being remedied as long as answr. Sice he student showed, by
the present system is used, lies in the the ta&i tat he omitted an important
fact that the teacher in forming his step or did ant reason deeply enough,
judgment of a pupil's work is con- that he will never excel in that field,
fronted by two incompatble sets of e shold -receive for the qualitative
facts. Hie must evolve unity out of part of the answer just what the pro-
such entirely distinct, categories as fessor gave hhuas; I?, owever, since
reasoning power and remembered tile copleteness of his answer re-
facts, indifference and lack of ability. veaed the fact that he had prepared
The result is that the teacher, having the lessons to the best of his ability
no alternative, mnakes a kind of a he should receive for the quantitative
"rule of the thumb" estimate or con- part just wia the instructor gave
promise. It seems inevitable that any him, 11 They were boh right, only


. AE -
BM CG -:
CM -

Dual Series


Single Series
grade point
-A 4
B 3
-C 2
D 1
-E 0







The following diagram shows what
a priori seems to be the best method.

Single questions or exercises mark-

ed by this system could be combined
into a single grade by assigning value
to the letters as follows:
Quality Quantity
A-3 E-3
B-2 G-2
C-1 M-1
adding each series values separately;
dividing by the number of exercises
and assigning the letter nearest in
value to the quotient. Thus the final
mark for the course could be secured.
The advantages of this particular
combination of the dual series briefly
stated are:
(1) It gives a variety of marks be-
low the passing grade, which informa-
tion is valuable not only to the student
but also to the dean and the student's
(2) The series, either singly or in
combination, is symmetrical and the
greatest number of available grades
lie where they should, i. e., at the
average, where normally the most
students would be found. A teacher,
should accept a student on the as-f
fiumption that he is of average schol-
arship and industry and change him
up or down only as he learns to the
contrary. BG would be the "keystone"
position of the system, For a teacher
to attempt to use any series without
such a central point or base line on
which to base his calculations, is
bound to lead to variability. The pres-
ent system with four passing grades,
leaves the center of the system at a
point midway between B and C and
so puts the teacher in the position of a
surveyor who would begin to survey a
region using as his base line, not a
definite line, but an unmarked spot in
a lake midway between two head-
lands. Even though we were to keep
a single series system, it should be
either reduced to three or increased to
a five step series apart from the "not
passed" or condition grade.
Another advantage 'lies in the fact'
that it would tend to substitute real or
absolute values which have a signifi-
cance in the outside world for the pres-
ent artificial values of the school
world. This artificiality, had its basis
in ambiguity or. perhaps downright
falsehood, which crept into education
when in an early day the mother, per-
haps by way of encouragement, told
her child that his writing, which con--
sisted of nothing but a few scrawling
lines, was "good." A person would no
longer have to be "initiated" to know
the significance of a grade, and the
"come down" which an A student now
has on changing from the grading sys-
tem of the school to that of the world,
and the resulting discouragement and
failure would be eliminated. Even

tremely doubtful), there is no reason
for treating a university student in
this manner. Education particularly
in the university should be tied up as
closely as possible with the -outside
As the grades given out would have
signficance, they would not only assist
the pupil in ascertaining wherein his
chances of success lay, but also would
remove the temptation for a teacher to
be careless or false In his grading, in
order to build up the attendance of his
classes or department thereby deceiv-
ing the student and transforming him
into a "misfit." He would not dare be
inexact or "tender hearted" for it
would all sooner or later show in the
records. Each department would in-
stead try to get rid of the dead weight.
which would ultinately roslt in _i'_-
ination- still the elimnation ,ould be
Examinations would be robbed of
their unnecessary terror, for all would
not hang on a single cord and a stud-
ent could save the time and energy he
now expends in trying to forecast the
teacher's standards of grading for bet-
ter uses.
Is it not possible, even probable,
that the single series system, which
we have' inherited from the simple
nonexacting past, fails to meet the
greater. demand now made upon it?
Might not a single series be all that
was required to show how well a child
in a dameschool had mastered his
tables, and yet be woefully inadequate
for the needs of a great modern uni-
Now, if the dual system will over-
come nearly, if not all, of the faults of
the present system; if it will result in
grades having a definite meaningful
and absolute value; if it will minimize
the differences in which the same
work is evaluated by different teach-
ers at the same time or the -same
teachers at different times; if it will
spare the teacher the necessity of
making a "rule of the thumb" com-
promise in his attempt to harmonize
unlike elements; if it will assist the
student in finding himself, as well as
eliminate fairly and accurately that
class of self-deceived students who
ought never to have attempted a pro-

though there might have been son
justification for deceiving the child i
way of encouragement (which is e:



e of the scarcity of pupils,
ting classes of the Rifle club,
ere scheduled to be held three
reek at the Ann Arbor armory;
n Aiscontinued.
ite students are planning an-
cial evening to be given Fri-
t in Barbour gymnasium by

ference recently
Horton, presi-
ge and Prof. A.
cal department,
ies have begun
ized wire stand-


P. McQueen,M 'E, captain of the
ity baseball team, was initiated.
Michigamua, senior honorary so-
yesterday afternoon.
irry A. Franek, '03, author of "A
.bond Journey Around the World,"
has completed a walking tour
Panama down the western coast'
outh America and across the con-
it to Buenos Ayres, has aceepted
nanagement of the Edison Kineto-
.0 Co. in Brazil.

fessional career, along with the indif-
ferent and purposeless student who is
content to enjoy the generosity of the .
state with no ambition to render ser-
vice in return; if it will rob examina-
tions of unnecessary terror, and there-
by reduce the temptation for dishon-
est practices; if it will end the per-
ennial criticism and bring the students
and faculty into closer and more sym-
pathetic relations; if it will do all of
these things (even though less com-
pletely than appears at first sight,,
then, is it not the duty of the Univer-
sity of Michigan authorities to give it
careful aRd just consideration?
Alumnus Runs for Wayne Co. Office
Charles H. Jasnowski, '06L, has an-
nounced his candidacy on the Republi-
can ticket for the office of prosecuting
attorney of Wayne county.



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mark which is given under the prese"t
system must be the result of a sort of
mental gymnastic which att('mI, t to'
reconcile the irreconcilable. Small
wonder that the teachers show indi-
vidual differences in performing it or1
that the same teacher seldom does it
twice alike. The deplorable fact aboutf
it is, that the thing moet vital to the
student, his se confden , whic 1-
pends upon his grade, is at stake.
The remedy -for every oue ol t hese
evils, it seems to me, les in whe adop-
tion of what is perhaps best teried a
dual system of grading. Isead of
attempting to reconile thoe things,l
which from the very nature of thngs:
are different, why not employ onea
scale of values, e. g., A, B, C, D, to rep-
resent the qualitative aspects of a
student's work and another entirely
distinct and separate series, e. g., E
(excellent); G (good); M (medium)

thy wr cniderin different as-
poets of the same thing. His mark
siuld hae e I o; I Ienture
o ent fa under the dual system
ie woul have recived approximately
this from either of them
The dual system also reduces the
third eil in our present single series
systo, for it would do away with the
noe of a ''rue of the thumb"
jdu'oent, which tries to harmonize un-
aers uf the sa ent's grade would
oat d nd Iose Like in kind
guped tog er, a defnite rule for
oni.ining them could be laid down,*
with lie result that the mark would
ha somCiapproaching scientific
auracy. IL it were deemed neces-
r oombie the two series into a
single series, it could be done by a
clerk with absolute uniformity in
every case.


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