Discussion about grades

The other day I was at a meeting with the school paper I work for, and got into an argument with the team’s “gentle rebel without a cause”.

Stop going “<I>Weiila</I> got in an argument? WTF?” please. :kissy:

His points were that your school grades won’t be worth much on the job market since it’s your actual skills that count.

I hate to agree, but it’s pretty accurate.

However, then he claimed that we should simply cut down the grading system even more, so that people won’t worry so much about their grades and focus on more important things.

I claim that this would not work. While the idea is good in theory, currently Sweden is already using a ridiculously simplified grading system. In college/university, we only have three grades; fail, pass, and pass with distinction. The final one is rather difficult to get in most courses, you need to really prove yourself.

The guy wanted to take away the higher grading, so that you could only fail or pass.

My opinion is simple, if there is nothing above the passing grade, what on earth is there to struggle for to actually study a bit extra, fight a little harder? The pass with distinction is proof that you’ve really tried hard to learn and prove yourself in class and testing.

I have a lot of “pass with distinction” in my luggage, and I’m proud of them all. But I know myself, and many others around me - if we had nothing extra to struggle for, we would not care at all. I have a lazy personality and without a prize to drive me on I may just drop it all.

The guy went on with his views, that if grades aren’t important to a possible employee, what does it matter anyway? “It’s your personal achivements and REAL knowledge, that you’ve aquired out of the classroom, that is important. If you can’t live up to what you’re presenting yourself to be in an interview, the boss will realize it and kick you out soon enough.”

… did you just say that we should flat out lie on job interviews? And what exactly is “REAL” knowledge? How do you prove it? What about us people who aren’t good at making commercials about ourselves? Grades may not prove much, but if you have a lot of pass with distinction it WILL show that you’re a hard worker.

Whatever, I could not get anywhere with him, and neither could the others there who were also arguing against him.

Now I’d like to know what you guys think about this. Are grades really so unimportant that they should be rendered simplistic enough to prove this?

It’s the mantra of people who don’t work harder to prove themselves. If I was hiring students fresh out of college, I’d take the one with higher grades (and better attendence actually) because they both obivously know what their doing if they could graduate, but one of them strives to be better then the average. He’s destined for mediocrity.

Still, I’m biased, I’ve never been a big fan of dumbing down the education system, it seems counterproductive more then anything else.

Why should he assumes that he doesn’t attain any “real” knowledge in the classroom. He’s clearly wasting his time in an institution of higher learning.

Epic hit the nail right on the head. He’s not advocating this for a greater cause but because he doesn’t want to put the effort.

I graduated with a 3.82 GPA (out of 4) in biology in 3 years. When I go apply for CERTAIN jobs, this won’t matter. For example, when I did a few weeks of work as a temp, that obvously didn’t matter because my lab and scientific knowledge had nothing to do with it. This is the thing with most people: they get degrees for which there is no job for. I remember reading an article once about how the French students were all pissed and unemployed and while there are social constraints in France because France sucks for a lot of reasons, a dean made a good point: a lot of people go into these useless degrees and then expect the world to accomodate them. These people are in sore need of a reality check.

Grades are useful for stratification and evaluation of learning. When you get a degree, what matters and what allows you to perform later isn’t just what you learned, because that may or may not be relevant to the job you will be performing, but the skills that you learned so that you can learn and perform. So the guy is right about that. HOWEVER, how do you get those skills in the first place? Through good old hard work, which is then reflected in your grades. In class and in lab I learned the way to go around thinking about science and how to solve problems in science and otherwise. Without these abilities, my worth on the market is thus nill.

And right now all grades are pass fail in med school. This is nice because I get to relax and not have to care so much about my grades. In other words, I’m taking life easy and spending time with my friends, sleeping and taking it easy at the expense of what should be my grade. Why doesn’t that matter in med school? Because med school at this point is bullshit and even those who study 24/7 won’t remember the gigantic amounts of information given to them. The system here is pass fail because it recognizes the meaninglessness and stupidity of our exams and how giving people grades would imply things about the quality doctor you will be, which isn’t true because the tests in no way reflect that. So in the end, pass fail makes it so I have less motivation to push and rightfully so.

Bollocks. What is personal achievement if not good grades, and what on earth is real knowledge? What you’ve learned from being a lazy bum? He’s the sort of person who ought to settle with a career behind a cash register, but who has too much pride to, and instead decides we ought to ruin a perfecly functional system to accomodate him and his like.

The point of having grades is precisely to spur people into trying harder and therefore actually trying to remember and be proficient at what they’re ostensibly learning. Take that away and many students wouldn’t try, and hence wouldn’t be as productive. Conversely, once the grades are there, they’re an indication of either effort or innate ability, both of which give results in a job that reflects the skills that go into that degree. But as Sin said, there are plenty of degrees that don’t reflect any particular job, so sure, in those cases grades don’t matter, but then why are you really getting that degree in the first place?

Sin, I agree with what you’re saying about med school. My brother just got his M.D. yesterday and it’s completely insane how much work they make you do considering most people will end up either specializing (in which case all the general stuff they learn will never be used) or not specializing (in which case all the specialty stuff they learn will never be used). X-X And on top of that they demand that you be on call in the last few years, so not only are you spending your whole life studying, you also have to stay up full nights ignoring your school work. Sounds like a recipe for disaster for me… I’d never be able to hack it. ^^;

Congrats to your brother Cid! And yes, its a recipe for disaster as some personality types have difficulty letting go. Its really insane, you really see people break to certain extent.

Being able to sell yourself is a good thing and it is important to be able to have social skills. However, social skills only go so far.

Grades don’t matter? Good… :stuck_out_tongue:

Personaly, I’m in college currently and we simply use the ‘0% to 100%’ in grading systems. No need for stupid grading systems with letters and such. The system up here is still…somewhat okay, it’s struggling to not get terribly dumbed down like I hear it is down in the south.

But on a slight sidetrack note, my motivation for school and higher studies is extremly low. Or at least, for my current field of study.

Pass with distinction? Never happened.

As with all things, it depends. I definitely don’t advocate dumbing down the education system, but grades aren’t necessarily such a good measure of your work ethic, either. For instance, you might have one class that’s just inherently extremely hard, so you can put in a huge amount of effort into it and still end up with a middling grade, compared to an easy class where you can get a very high grade for very little work. Or, in schools that are on the three-quarter system, you regularly have classes where 50-75% of the final grade is determined by just one exam, so pure luck plays a pretty big role.

I’ve discovered that I’m slightly lazy and therefore am not getting absolutely perfect grades at the result. However, I’m not moronic enough to claim that we should therefore eliminate all forms of grading.

Grades tend to be more ineffective with the liberal arts because some professors are hard graders, others easy ones.

They can be just as ineffective in science classes if they are determined by just one or two tests. If the class moves fast and covers a lot of material, it is extremely easy to make a test that people will get bad grades on no matter how much they study.

Why should he assume that he doesn’t attain any “real” knowledge in the classroom. He’s clearly wasting his time in an institution of higher learning.
Classroom knowledge vanishes if it isn’t practiced. The problem isn’t the way people are being graded. The problem is the slow ascent into the working world because the education system spends so much time teaching (and re-teaching) you shit you’ll forget in three months because you’re not using it and never will. This kind of temporary shit is what “distinguishes” the people with high 90s from the people with 70s who retain just as much practical knowledge but aren’t stupid enough to waste their time on the kind of details that will cost a company big cash, not make it.

Changing the system from GPA or percentile grades to pass-or-fail is a cosmetic change. It’s a different way of saying the same thing about the same students, only it gives you less control over what you can say. Note that this is a GOOD THING. If you change the system to pass-or-fail and raise the passing bar to the equivalent of today’s 75 or 80, what you get is a massive clusterfuck of students who:

<li>are no longer able to make themselves seem more fit for a program by knowing the kind of useless shit that will get them high 90s even though they’ll forget it all in a month</li>
<li>will therefore have to do things beyond studying to distinguish themselves to undergrad and grad admissions</li>
<li>will be able to do this with the effort they previously channeled into getting breakneck grades</li>
<li>will be forced to achieve a bare minimum that actually says something about what they know and gives meaning and dignity to the term “passing”</li>
</ul>The result will be a group of people who are more fit for the workplace and efficient in it.

Chances of this ever happening: Nil.

Grades are used to judge people when there is no other criteria to judge them or in tie-breaking cases. This is why grades are more important in some majors than in others. SO many people have communications/sociology/psychology degrees and unless you run 3 hour interviews through every one of them it is hard to judge which one is more qualified than another. In engineering degrees there are fewer people and arguably a more rigid set of tests that can show proficiency so there are other ways of suitably gauging someone’s worth than just grades.

Personally I like grades to an extent, but I know far too many people that go 4.0 hunting. They will only take the bare minimum of classes per semester so they can concetrate on getting good grades in the ones they take. They will look at grade distribution reports for professors and take whichever one gives the easiest A. They will argue every wrong question to beg for more points. Then if those three attempts fail they will drop the course and retake it the next semester so it won’t hurt their gpa. They will also take fluff side courses to boost their gpa. These people I DESPISE.

My overall gpa is quite a bit lower than my major gpa because I love taking side courses that I find interesting, but don’t have the energy or time to put as much effort into them. I took Organic Chemistry and Physical Chemistry and Differential Equations as side classes because they interested me. Sometimes this put me at the 21 hour class limit for a semester and it was rough getting through it all. My gpa did suffer a bit, but I learned so much. I put this on my resume and I know some employers do think that my zest for learning outweighs the battles between a B and an A.

If grades don’t matter, why would people even try? If people don’t try that might lead to even more dropouts and/or failing in schools. I don’t know if this makes sense but it’s how i feel about it.

I know I have skills, and grades, but I say ( even though off topic, it has been on my mind) that what you can do is mostly effected by your atmoshpere. Having a friend stabbed, and being the highest average in a school of thugs doesnt mean confidence is on its way.

-pardon any slang

When you have to write a paper or do an essay, it doesn’t matter what subject it is at all, the grade will still be at least partially subjective in nature. Not only that, but there will be hard graders and easy graders in all subjects. It all depends on how demanding the professor wants to make the course, not the nature of the subject matter. Depending on professors, there could be a very easy upper level physics course and an impossibly hard Communications 101 course.

I once had an English prof who encouraged me to write in flowery language for essays. He thought my essay on Oedipus would be better if I used titles like “the fallen King of Thebes” and other grandiose terms. He said I was repetitive when I used the name Oedipus twice in a 2/3 page long paragraph. And at the bookends too. :expressionless:

My writing style tends to be naturally “complex”, which is interesting because history professors tell me my prose needs work whereas English professors praise it.