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Thread: Curving Grades

  1. #11
    FORT Fogey BoBoFan's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey;2607767;
    I don't really understand how your daughter's grade went from a 90 to a 76, the only curves I ever had at university were when the highest grade was bumped up to 100% and then the rest of the class was marked up against that standard. More commonly, questions that a great majority of the class missed (multiple choice) were "thrown out" which lowered the points possible on the exam, but didn't change the points earned. In both of these grades are never lowered though...
    She got all of the extra credit questions correct. No one else did.

  2. #12
    FORT Fogey BoBoFan's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by lopevian;2607811;
    Well BoBo, I think grading curves stink. It is not a fair representation of any individual student. If they need to compile their stats and averages for a column on some report or whatever, that's fine, and probably helpful and necessary. But every student deserves a truly reflective, individual grade. They need to keep that separate. Good for your daughter for deciding to make her feelings known to her Professor.
    Thank you lopevian! You have such a way of saying what's real!

  3. #13
    FORT Fogey pakacat's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Yeah, I could see where a discussion with/writing to her prof politely is in order. That is a very strange way of curving a test! I had profs curve tests in college and throw out questions, but I don't remember it ever being in a way to hurt anybody. Most common way was to take the highest or 2nd highest grade, add enough points to equal 100, then add the same # of points to everyone's score. The whole grading scale could also be lowered for the semester, for example, 70 might be a B rather than a C.

    From what I understand, some college profs can be under a lot of pressure to make sure a large % get good grades, due to reviews and stuff and if they don't have tenure. I've also encountered classes where a curve was necessary or almost everyone would fail (organic chem comes to mind).

  4. #14
    Read The Clue Bearcata's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    If your daughter has the highest grade in the class it should remain the highest grade in the class regardless if it was on a bell curve or not.
    "When life gives you lemons, squirt lemon juice in your enemy's eyes."

  5. #15
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Bailey;2607767;
    I don't really understand how your daughter's grade went from a 90 to a 76, the only curves I ever had at university were when the highest grade was bumped up to 100% and then the rest of the class was marked up against that standard. More commonly, questions that a great majority of the class missed (multiple choice) were "thrown out" which lowered the points possible on the exam, but didn't change the points earned. In both of these grades are never lowered though...
    That's the kind of curve that I"ve always been familiar with too. I think they're quite fair, because it's a professors way of being humble enough to realize he or she may write some questions thinking they're reasonable, but they're not.

    I will say that I think the key to fairness with a curve is that its known ahead of time. In the case bobofan described, it sounds like the rules were changed AFTER the fact. I think that is not fair, even though I have no problem with curves. Students deserve to know how they're going to be judged going into an exam so they can prepare accordingly.

  6. #16
    FORT Fogey Add It Up Champion famita's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    I always appreciated my personal test scores. It was an accurate accounting of what I had learned and helped me realize what I needed to study more. I guess I would have felt gypped if I were in her shoes. I always thought they curved at the end of the class term when all the grades were in for everyone. Silly me.

  7. #17
    Resident curmudgeon Newfherder's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Students deserve to know how they're going to be judged going into an exam so they can prepare accordingly.
    How about learning the material so that it doesn't matter how the grades are weighted? Why should the slackers benefit from their lack of preparation? One college exam in particular stands out in my mind. I scored somewhere around 98% on the mid-term; the average score was somewhere around 50%. There was a lot of complaining about how unfair the test was, but the professor rightly pointed out that the key lecture was attended by only five students, and that those were the students who scored the highest on the exam.
    "The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination."
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  8. #18
    Premium Member canuckinchile's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    If you do an internet search on the subject there is some interesting reading. From a brief skim, it seems most profs that grade on a curve(not necessarily bell curve) do so to either keep a student's grade the same or improve it. Also, I would really question the validity of curving a small sample (class) size. It just wouldn't be a fair representation since there would not be enough grades to approach a normal distribution.

    I had this done to me once (a looooooong time ago) by a prof in a class of about 20 people. I had a pretty good mark so it didn't affect me much, and I think it may have even helped me. The thing I do remember is that 2 girls who barely passed (around 60 percent) ended up with a failing grade. They were very upset.

  9. #19
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    Re: Curving Grades

    Quote Originally Posted by Newfherder;2608286;
    How about learning the material so that it doesn't matter how the grades are weighted? Why should the slackers benefit from their lack of preparation? One college exam in particular stands out in my mind. I scored somewhere around 98% on the mid-term; the average score was somewhere around 50%. There was a lot of complaining about how unfair the test was, but the professor rightly pointed out that the key lecture was attended by only five students, and that those were the students who scored the highest on the exam.
    Ideally, you're right. But all students don't live in an ideal world. When you're working to pay for school AND going to school full time so you can finish sooner to limit the time you have to juggle it all timewise and financially, sometimes you have to make choices. You've got two exams tomorrow, and have to work until 7 ... if you know one exam is multiple choice graded on a curve, and another is essay graded straight, then you have a better idea of how to prioritize your studying.

  10. #20
    FORT Fogey Add It Up Champion famita's Avatar
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    Re: Curving Grades

    I guess that's why I never liked the curve-just grade me for what I earned, not for what I wanted.

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