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  #101  
Old 11-05-2009, 02:10 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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I don't value your opinion enough to put the effort in ...
And by posting in the thread as you did, you expressed that contempt very clearly, instead of keeping it to yourself. I think that was an arrogant and dumb move.

And yet, when I tried to get you to respond to the content of my posts, rather than the fact that I hadn't watched the video...

Yes, that's the way you're trying to avoid the issue.

When you acknowledge that you have made a mistake, and that, as usual, you've been attacking me as a way of defending your mistake instead of owning up to it, then I'll stop repeating the criticism that you ascribed to Professor Kagan a view that he hasn't expressed and you seem to think it's okay for you to criticise someone's ideas without listening to them.

I think that's fair.

Mick
It wasn't a "false version" because I admitted that I didn't know whether that was what he said.
:wtfsign: A falsehood that one assumes to be true is not rendered true by an acknowledgment it might be false.

Mick: The former is strong evidence ...
erimir: It's not incontrovertible evidence.

I see what you did there. Sneaky!


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  #102  
Old 11-05-2009, 04:48 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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So, Erimer, based on the transcript liv provided, it would appear that we are actually talking about an average grade of about a 'B'. Does that work for you?
Well, I guess so. As you say yourself, it ends up seeming a bit vague. And what I took from it was that he was only a little bit more harsh at the end of the semester, than average. So while his grading of the papers was harsh, the final grade you get ends up being more typical (most likely due to 20% of your grade coming from the rather easy requirement of "participate in discussions").
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But I also wonder if grade inflation can be dealt with on a university wide basis, at least not without ugly side effects (such as tying teachers' hands on grading policies). It seems to me the nature of grade inflation that whatever policy you set, teachers tend to (these days anyway) to use whatever discretion they have generously. The only way to address that on a university wide basis is to remove that discretion altogether, a move I am uncomfortable with for different reasons.
It is a conundrum. It might be possible to use some sort of mathematical transformation to change the grade distribution to one reflecting the average and variance they would like, while combining it with teacher discretion, I suppose.

I'm not particularly committed to any particular way of combating grade inflation, I was just expressing my opinion that I think it's more important that there's consistency than that one single teacher decides that he or she's going to give an average grade of C, when that's going to be compared to other classes where the average is a B+, and people will conclude that that student was a bit below average.

And in considering how to deal with it, it would probably useful to examine how grading policies used to be handled. I suspect that it probably was never true that there was such consistency between teachers, or it may have been easier to do when the universities were smaller, etc. Usually the past isn't as golden as it's made out to be.
I expect you're right that things might not be as they were imagined, and I'm not sure that more low grades is all that wonderful a prospect anyway. Sure it might mean higher standards, but it can also facilitate a variety of elitisms and/or discourage students in non-productive ways. Personally, I do prefer a little more stringent grading system than normal these days, but I do think there are definite down-sides.

I expect grade inflation may reflect other forces than just teachers being softies too. I think another thing that would be useful might be the degree to which grades have become loaded with more significance over time. At least I suspect this to be the case.

When I was out on the res. my students could lose financial aid if I gave them low grades at midterms. So, I would get pressure to change grades; "Hey, can I retake the test," stuff like that. I had real mixed feelings on that. To me the midterm was a good chance to give someone a kick in the ass and hope they would get to work, and I had already factored in ways for hard workers to recover their grades. But of course all of this assumed that they would be able to stick around. Once I learned that low grades at Midterms could literally mean the student has to drop out, I had to reconsider my approach. (Actually, I was furious with the college for setting it up that way.) But that's just one example of grades affecting students in a way that I suspect they didn't before. (Don't know, but I suspect, anyway).

It's one thing to give a low grade when you are making a statement, but when you know it will cost someone, that makes it more difficult. If you add to that a certain decline in the conscious elitism of universities and certain professions, I suspect part of the source of the inflation may be a more or less conscious decision to ensure that doors are not closed for students.
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  #103  
Old 11-05-2009, 04:52 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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:wtfsign: A falsehood that one assumes to be true is not rendered true by an acknowledgment it might be false.
No, but a conditional statement is only false if the antecedent is true and the consequent is false. When the antecedent is false it becomes a counter-factual, but not a false statement. Your decision to pretend otherwise is dishonest, but I have no doubt that you will evade taking responsibility for the misbehavior.

But of course this is all beside the point. There is only one thing worth hearing from you in this or any other thread: Do you, Mick, have Autism, Asberger's, or any related conditions? Have any professionals ever ascribed such a condition to you? Honestly, just getting a straight foreword answer to that question could potentially help a great deal. You have long since proven that engaging you in any other way is a complete waste of time.
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  #104  
Old 11-05-2009, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

Grades are a tool in the class war. Teachers use them to motivate students, maintain discipline, encourage right-minded thinking, etc. etc. The extent to which they actually help students become smarter is dubious. Instead, they help the school system (Harvard can use them to weed out undesirables); they help future employers; they are, in fact tools of the ruling class (in schools, the teachers and administration ARE the ruling class).

To the extent that grade inflation makes rabid competition for "A"s less significant, I support it.

I think grade inflation began in earnest during the Viet Nam era. If a teacher flunked a college student, the student could be shipped off to the Nam and killed. Who can blame teachers for wanting to avoid that?

It's reasonable to have some sort of requirements for (for example) getting a B.A. True: neither a high school diploma nor a B.A. actually mean very much, and neither does an M.A., and (well that's as far as I got in school, so I'm not so sure about the Ph.D.). And what they DO mean is dubious -- degrees probably say as much about the student's ability and willingness to conform to rules, meet attendance requirements, and play well with the other children as they say about actual learning skills or knowledge.

This being the case, why do so many peole descry grade inflation. It's sort of like the Medical Doctors who won't change the idiotic 24 hour shifts for interns -- older people think, "We had to go through intense competition for grades, why shouldn't our children?" What, I wonder, is the benefit of harsh grading? (I admit I haven't read the transcript of the O.P. for a couple of weeks now, and forget what the Professor said.)
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  #105  
Old 11-05-2009, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

Interesting question, BDS, where's the harm? At the moment, this one has a personal flavor, so I'll answer it in that accordingly.

I have 2 students who just took a quiz in my after school AP Government class. It was an in-class essay on the Right to Privacy. I added that I wanted students to discuss at least one court decision dealing with that right.

One of the students told me all about the "Amanda" Rights. The other told me about how people have rights and it's important to have rights, and rights are good, and like the police shouldn't just come into your home, and...

Neither addressed the presence or absence of the right in the constitution, nor did either address Roe v. Wade or Griswold v. Connecticut. Nor did either address the right to die or any of the other things we discussed for 2 days straight (and which are all present in the textbook). Now I have to grade them. I HAVE to. It's my job.

If I give them As (and in this environment that is exactly what is expected on all assignments), then I am effectively telling them that their performance is excellent. If I give them Bs, then I am telling them that it's above average. If I give them Cs, I am telling them that their performance is acceptable. The only grade the strikes me as an honest appraisal of their work is a D for the one and an F for the other. For me, anyway, the real trouble is in the message the grade gives to the student. It's not personal; I don't hate them for their poor performance, but I do NOT want to contribute to the misconception that completely missing the point demonstrates above average competence. If they are content to be D or F students, then so be it. I wish them well, but if they want higher grades, then I am going to expect to see more effort.

Oh yeah, both of these students are very intelligent. They are both capable of doing A work.

Of course there are definite class implications here (and by that I mean economic). I can hope the students will bounce back from the negative feedback and earn an A, thus maintaining their GPAs and facilitating their march toward college and professional careers. They are both upper-middle class to filthy rich, and while I don't think I will be contributing to positive social change by helping them, but basic human empathy leads me to want those with whom I associate to do well in life. I'd like them to succeed.

Whatever grade I end up giving them, I guess I can say, the significance for me is something of a statement about the quality of the work they are producing. I couldn't care less about lowering the overall average of grades, and I am as happy to give all As as all Fs, or anything in-between. Where grade inflation burns me up is in situations just like this, where I know that I am expected to give them a high grade, and the students are not doing a damn thing to earn it. I don't want to ruin their lives or even their days, but I also do not want to flatter their poor performance with a stamp of approval. And often grade inflation feels like a demand for the latter.

Gottagoby!
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  #106  
Old 11-05-2009, 07:13 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

I don't think students are delusional. If 3/4 of the class get "A"s, the students aren't going to think the "A"s mean "excellent work" to the extent that they will if only one student gets an "A". Besides, there are other ways for a teacher to communicate besides the letter mark. You could give the student a "C", and write, "This is barely passing work, and you could do much, much better. To show a true understanding of the issue, you should have........"

My objection to an over-emphasis on letter grades is that it underemphasizes other motives for learning. The very best teachers (I'd suggest) are the ones who don't need grades to motivate their students to learn. Grades can be a crutch with which mediocre teachers can beat their students -- just like the cane with which teachers used to beat unprepared scholars.

In general, I think positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement in motivating children (i'm not so sure about older students). Give half the class "A"s and half the class will think, "Hey, I'm pretty good at this learning gig. This is sort of fun." Give half the class "D"s and half the class with think, "School sucks."

True: the competition at the top won't be as fierce (I remember in my son's high school class 35 students tied as "valedictorian" with straight "A" averages). But that doesn't much bother me.
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  #107  
Old 11-06-2009, 12:19 AM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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I don't value your opinion enough to put the effort in ...
And by posting in the thread as you did, you expressed that contempt very clearly, instead of keeping it to yourself. I think that was an arrogant and dumb move.
Hm?

Arrogant? You might argue that. *I* don't think that not valuing your opinion is a sign of arrogance, but obviously you would disagree with that.

I also don't find anything about not valuing your opinion to be dumb. In fact, it's the smart thing to do. But really, I don't see where intelligence comes into play with regards to how highly I hold you in esteem. If you think that everyone ought to value your opinion (such that not doing so marks one as "arrogant and dumb"), does that not make you arrogant as well?
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And yet, when I tried to get you to respond to the content of my posts, rather than the fact that I hadn't watched the video...

Yes, that's the way you're trying to avoid the issue.

When you acknowledge that you have made a mistake, and that, as usual, you've been attacking me as a way of defending your mistake instead of owning up to it, then I'll stop repeating the criticism that you ascribed to Professor Kagan a view that he hasn't expressed and you seem to think it's okay for you to criticise someone's ideas without listening to them.

I think that's fair.
I said that we could discuss the supposed topic of the thread, if you wanted. You said that we could discuss both.

I said that I didn't believe that you could discuss both.

This post proves that I was correct. If you wanted to discuss it, you would. Others in the thread have, including me. You have not - you're far more interested in me, and whether I'm slighting you and so forth.

Like I said, this does raise the question of how "worthy of sharing" the video was, if trivial subjects such as whether I watched the video are far more important than the information in the video.
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:wtfsign: A falsehood that one assumes to be true is not rendered true by an acknowledgment it might be false.
If I assume correctly (that Prof. Kagan was talking about grade inflation in this way), then this is what I would respond.

That's not the same as "Prof. Kagan said such and such." It just simply isn't, no matter how much you want it to be.
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  #108  
Old 11-06-2009, 04:13 AM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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I don't think students are delusional. If 3/4 of the class get "A"s, the students aren't going to think the "A"s mean "excellent work" to the extent that they will if only one student gets an "A". Besides, there are other ways for a teacher to communicate besides the letter mark. You could give the student a "C", and write, "This is barely passing work, and you could do much, much better. To show a true understanding of the issue, you should have........"

My objection to an over-emphasis on letter grades is that it underemphasizes other motives for learning. The very best teachers (I'd suggest) are the ones who don't need grades to motivate their students to learn. Grades can be a crutch with which mediocre teachers can beat their students -- just like the cane with which teachers used to beat unprepared scholars.

In general, I think positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement in motivating children (i'm not so sure about older students). Give half the class "A"s and half the class will think, "Hey, I'm pretty good at this learning gig. This is sort of fun." Give half the class "D"s and half the class with think, "School sucks."

True: the competition at the top won't be as fierce (I remember in my son's high school class 35 students tied as "valedictorian" with straight "A" averages). But that doesn't much bother me.
You are right, they are not delusional. And I could probably even give them As without conveying the message that their performance was excellent. But I don't think I can give them A's without it be construed as acceptance of their efforts. One way or another, an 'A' or even a 'B' (i.e. any grade within the realm of their expected range) will effectively communicate acceptance of what I take to be a complete miss on the topic at hand. So, even if we dispense with a sort of fundamentalist reading of the grades, there still comes a point, and this example is right at that point, when a grade within the expected range is more positive than the student deserves. I can disappoint them a little, or I can disappoint them a lot. But in my experience if I don't disappoint them I will get the same performance next week.

Which brings me to your argument to the effect that grades are less effective than positive re-enforcement. On one level this striles me as something of a false dichotomy. The most effective approach has always seemed to me to combine both. And I while it is certainly true that teachers sometimes just keep slamming out bad grades in compensation for having little else to offer in the way of incentive, I have certainly seen the reverse as well; teachers who keep finding something to praise (and a reason to give out the A) without ever facing the fact that their students have not grasped even the most elementary concepts in the lessons at hand. Both can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Which brings me to another point, whether negative or positive, in the log run the real motivators require some genuine consequence. I can produce changes (positive or negative) in the way I treat the students, but the only thing that is going to sustain students in long term positive performance is when there is some practical consequence on their lives. Not unlike people in most contexts, students tend to follow the path of least resistance, and a student who realizes that no negative consequences will follow from non performance AND no positive consequences will follow from serious effort is apt to find something else to do when they should be working on their homework.

Unfortunately grading is the only significant consequence that a teacher can hand out on a regular basis. Positives such as scholarships, letters of recommendation, etc. are occassionals; they don't sustain people week after week. And here's the kicker, it is precisely grade inflation that deprives teachers of the option to use a grade as a positive re-enforcement. When an 'A' is the standard grade, a teacher can only slap people for bad performance. And it is precisely the tendency to hand out As lightly that deprives teachers of the option to give out a genuinely positive re-enforcement when it is deserved.

What should be an extra becomes an expectation. Then there is no extra left to give.
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  #109  
Old 11-06-2009, 02:05 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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:wtfsign: A falsehood that one assumes to be true is not rendered true by an acknowledgment it might be false.
No
Cool. So when erimir claimed that it wasn't a "false version" because he admitted that he didn't know whether it was true, that was another mistake.

... but a conditional statement is only false if the antecedent is true and the consequent is false ... Your decision to pretend otherwise is dishonest

In "I'm assuming he's taking a stand against grade inflation" the proposition that Kagan is taking a stand against grade inflation is not a conditional, Brimmie - it's a falsehood. I think you are too quick with your Mick sucks counter-accusations.

Mick
But of course this is all beside the point. There is only one thing worth hearing from you in this or any other thread: Do you, Mick, have Autism, Asberger's, or any related conditions? Have any professionals ever ascribed such a condition to you? Honestly, just getting a straight foreword answer to that question could potentially help a great deal. You have long since proven that engaging you in any other way is a complete waste of time.

LOL That's some monster butt-hurt you are nursing, dude!
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Old 11-06-2009, 03:29 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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:wtfsign: A falsehood that one assumes to be true is not rendered true by an acknowledgment it might be false.
No
Cool. So when erimir claimed that it wasn't a "false version" because he admitted that he didn't know whether it was true, that was another mistake.

... but a conditional statement is only false if the antecedent is true and the consequent is false ... Your decision to pretend otherwise is dishonest

In "I'm assuming he's taking a stand against grade inflation" the proposition that Kagan is taking a stand against grade inflation is not a conditional, Brimmie - it's a falsehood. I think you are too quick with your Mick sucks counter-accusations.

Mick
But of course this is all beside the point. There is only one thing worth hearing from you in this or any other thread: Do you, Mick, have Autism, Asberger's, or any related conditions? Have any professionals ever ascribed such a condition to you? Honestly, just getting a straight foreword answer to that question could potentially help a great deal. You have long since proven that engaging you in any other way is a complete waste of time.

LOL That's some monster butt-hurt you are nursing, dude!
So, Mick, was erimir wrong to assume that Kagan is taking a stand against grade inflation? Was that particular assumption false? When erimir said "presumably" was the specific presumption in that claim false? What specific claim did erimir make in his post that you believe to be false?

And do you have Autism, Asbergers, or any related condition? Have you ever been diagnosed with any such condition?
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  #111  
Old 11-06-2009, 04:09 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

Yes, erimir was wrong to assume that Kagan was taking a stand against grade inflation in that video. And if he'd followed my recommendation and watched the video he wouldn't have made that mistake. I reckon one of the reasons, perhaps the most important reason, why he wanted to take issue with the view he imagined I was admiring without watching the video first, is that he thinks it is smart not to value my opinion. I think that's arrogant and his choice was a dumb one.
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Old 11-06-2009, 04:19 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

Looks like a stand against grade inflation to me.
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  #113  
Old 11-06-2009, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

Then you have misread it. Not only does he not say his grade policy is a unilateral attempt to keep Yale's grades from inflating; he make no mention of his attitude to grade inflation at all. Yet erimir found fault with a policy he doesn't espouse or seem to pursue.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:21 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

Kagan also doesn't describe his speech as a "defense" of "a tough grading policy". Odd that you get to paraphrase so loosely, but erimir must match words exactly.

But I suppose the rules of this game facilitate your own interests quite well, don't they?
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  #115  
Old 11-06-2009, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

I have known many teachers that have taken a stand against grade inflation. They do not do so by standing up and saying; "Hello kids, I am taking a unilateral stand against grade inflation throughout this university."[/pompousvoice] They do so by grading more stringently than average and insisting on the integrity of their decision to do so. When pressed, they often cite the diminishing value of inflated grades, just as Kagan has done here.

Erimir's presumptions regarding the general intent of this presentation are quite sound.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:31 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

You are right, Kagan doesn't use those exact words, but I think it is a fair summary of what he is saying and why. Okay, so Kagan actually doesn't even admit to being a tough grader so in that sense he isn't defending his policy as a tough grade policy at all. But he does acknowledge his reputation as a tough grader and he is saying something like "I think my grade policy is justifiable and I intend to stick with it even if it means I have a reputation for being one of Yale's harshest graders"

That is why I described his speech as a justification of a tough grade policy.

I don't expect erimir or you to match Kagan's words more precisely than I have. That's a Mick Sucks misrepresentation, dude. I think it would good if you stopped relying on those because they aren't honest.

ETA: They [teachers that have taken a stand against grade inflation] do so by grading more stringently than average.
Kagan would have to know what was average to be pursuing that kind of policy. He tells us that he doesn't.

When pressed, they often cite the diminishing value of inflated grades, just as Kagan has done here.
That's another misreading, dude. Nowhere does Kagan refer to the dimishing value of inflated grades.

Your continuing defences of erimir's presumptions are quite spurious.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:36 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

If my point were that your paraphrase were inaccurate, this would be a good response. But of course my objection is to your double standard. You paraphrase, but when it comes to erimir's position, you say he is wrong because Kagan does not make explicit statements about grade inflation or urge a university wide policy.

Kagan does make an explicit argument about the protecting the value of a high grade from over-use. The prospect that excessive application of high grades diminishes their value is normally described as, ...wait for it, ..."grade inflation."

Erimir was not wrong in assuming Kagan was taking a stand against grade inflation. Kagan does take a stand against grade inflation.

So, was there some other claim that erimir made that you think was false?
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:42 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

Perhaps, Mick, you may think that erimir was wrong when he said; "presumably." That was one of the words that you originally quoted at the start of your granny-lecture. Of course you weren't yet saying erimir had produced a flase statement. That charge crept into your posts later, but let's check. This was the statement beginning with the objectionable 'presumably.'

"That is, presumably he's not just giving out lower grades because he wants to be harsh. "

Was erimir wrong about this. Is Kagan just doing this because he wants to be harsh?
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

If my point were that your paraphrase were inaccurate, this would be a good response.

Okay, so you aren't saying my paraphrasing is a misrepresentation. Thanks.

I am saying that erimir's describing Kagan's speech as "a stand aginst grade inflation" is a misrepresentation.

ETA: Perhaps, Mick, you may think that erimir was wrong when he said; "presumably."
No, I'm saying erimir was wrong to treat Kagan as if he were taking a unilateral stand against grade inflation. And I'm saying you are defending erimir's mistake with spurious arguments.
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Old 11-06-2009, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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Originally Posted by Brimshack View Post


Which brings me to another point, whether negative or positive, in the log run the real motivators require some genuine consequence. I can produce changes (positive or negative) in the way I treat the students, but the only thing that is going to sustain students in long term positive performance is when there is some practical consequence on their lives. Not unlike people in most contexts, students tend to follow the path of least resistance, and a student who realizes that no negative consequences will follow from non performance AND no positive consequences will follow from serious effort is apt to find something else to do when they should be working on their homework.

Unfortunately grading is the only significant consequence that a teacher can hand out on a regular basis. Positives such as scholarships, letters of recommendation, etc. are occassionals; they don't sustain people week after week. And here's the kicker, it is precisely grade inflation that deprives teachers of the option to use a grade as a positive re-enforcement. When an 'A' is the standard grade, a teacher can only slap people for bad performance. And it is precisely the tendency to hand out As lightly that deprives teachers of the option to give out a genuinely positive re-enforcement when it is deserved.

What should be an extra becomes an expectation. Then there is no extra left to give.
Of course most professional educators agree with you in general -- which is why we have the grading system that we do. Any objections that I may have are strictly those of an amateur. However, (unlike teachers and educators) I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing for students to "find something else to do when they should be working on their homework". School is OK, but as long as the kid learns how to read and write and do arithmetic, he may well find something better to do when he blows off studying for his AP Government class.

Since I'm on a roll nitpicking about word usage (see the Wild Things thread), I'd just like to mention that I object to the standard scholastic use of the word "consequence" (Brimshack is simply using it like everyone else in the school system does). Educators use it to abrogate responsibility. Any punishment becomes a "consequence", as if the principal and teacher have nothing to do with punishing the kid, and the punishment is being handed down by God. The "consequence" of failing to study for your AP Governement test is that you will fail to learn some stuff about government; the grade you receive on the test (as is obvious from our discussion here) depends on your teacher just as much as it depends on you.
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  #121  
Old 11-06-2009, 05:59 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

[ duplicate.
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Old 11-06-2009, 06:53 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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Old 11-06-2009, 08:26 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

What dire offence from am'rous causes springs...

Alex Pope
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:34 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

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Originally Posted by mickthinks View Post
If my point were that your paraphrase were inaccurate, this would be a good response.

Okay, so you aren't saying my paraphrasing is a misrepresentation. Thanks.

I am saying that erimir's describing Kagan's speech as "a stand aginst grade inflation" is a misrepresentation.

ETA: Perhaps, Mick, you may think that erimir was wrong when he said; "presumably."
No, I'm saying erimir was wrong to treat Kagan as if he were taking a unilateral stand against grade inflation. And I'm saying you are defending erimir's mistake with spurious arguments.
I am trying to locate the specific claim that you regard as false. I have just given you an argument showing that erimir's interpretation of Kagan's position as a stand against grade inflation is reasonable. Thus far your only response to that argument is to call it spurious. ...which is ironic to say the least.
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:36 PM
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Default Re: A philosophy professor justifies tough grade policy

BDS,

Whether or not a student can find better things to do than study is not really the issue. If a student has better things to do, then so be it, but this does not change the status of things with respect to the quality of their school work. Not spending time on homework becomes a problem when the homework isn't done, or isn't done well and/or when the student shos poor understanding in some other context (such as a test). I can fully accept the possibility that a student might find something better to do than study, but my business stretches only as far as their own lack of performance.

Whether or not there are better things to do than assign grades is an interesting question, and if you take me to be defending the use of grades in preference to some other way of influencing students, then you have misread me. The point is that grading IS the tool that I have. I can praise. I can write letters of reference. I can even hand out candy. But the only consistent, institutionalized mechanism of influencing student behavior that I do actually have at my disposal is the assignment of a grade. Grade inflation deprives that tool of its power; it especially depreives it of any power to be used as positve re-enforcement.

Now, you have said that teachers describe bad grades as 'consequences' in ways that deny our own responsibility for those consequences. Is it your contention that I have just done so?
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