Marks, grades, honors, distinctions,…next

My last post was about how students consider marks and grades. Well, I just graded students assignments recently, so it’s time to tell you about how we, profs, consider this difficult task !
I’ve always been unconfortable to give a mark because I know how important it is for students and I don’t want to mistake. For a prof’, there are always a number of unanswered questions. One is: should you grade the effort or the performance ? Some are doing lots of efforts, they work much, they spend nights studying and…the end result can be “not so good”. We should take that into account but how do we know ? Other students don’t study much but for whatever reason (they’re smart, intelligent or just lucky), they perform in top category. So, what should we do ?
Also, judging a performance is sometimes hard. I envy accounting profs who can have a  clear appreciation of what is right or wrong. In marketing, it’s much more difficult ! we tried to be fair, we have objective criteria but it doesn’t mean we can not make mistakes.phd012014s.gif

So, faced with these dilemmas, I’m always keeping some principles in mind:
1) Is the delivery “professional” ? i.e. rigorous, deep enough for the essentials, impeccable in terms of oral or written delivery. I cannot accept a “middle of the road” performance when a great one is expected.
2) Does it bring value to the class ? This is when the assignment is presented to the whole group. Is stimulating curiosity, bringing new ideas, offering relevant sources of information…
3) Is there some intellectual honesty behind it ? No manipulation, no willingness to appear better than it is in reality, hide weaknesses or to tell some lies about the amount of work that was provided. I hate hypocrites and I prefer a student telling honestly “I don’t know because I didn’t study enough” to the one who will cheat in some way. We have our secrets to detect this…

I hate written exams. I don’t like multiple choice questionnaires. I like to have people in front of me. It’s human. It’s like in business. It’s a true interaction.
And a last thing: I believe exams should be part of the learning process. So I always try to find evaluation systems that bring new knowledge or experience to my students.

Be inspired !

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