Oberlin College Students Want Below-Average Grades Abolished, Midterms Replaced with Conversations

Snoopy4

macrumors 6502a
Dec 29, 2014
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So they want social promotion in College now? Fail.
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I really don't believe any of this stuff actually happens.
Sit on an interview panel sometime. I work in aviation and some ass clown spent his entire interview talking about how he wanted to save the planet through zero emissions. I finally had to ask him how he thought that would be possible with aircraft. He didn't have an answer. I assume he's still off trying to save the planet. God that kid thought he was so freakin smart. I might be wrong though. Maybe economic reality finally set in for him and he had to take some kind of job, like flipping burgers.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
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So they want social promotion in College now? Fail.
[doublepost=1464352939][/doublepost]

Sit on an interview panel sometime. I work in aviation and some ass clown spent his entire interview talking about how he wanted to save the planet through zero emissions. I finally had to ask him how he thought that would be possible with aircraft. He didn't have an answer. I assume he's still off trying to save the planet. God that kid thought he was so freakin smart. I might be wrong though. Maybe economic reality finally set in for him and he had to take some kind of job, like flipping burgers.
Sounds like you know a lot of caricatures.
 

samiwas

macrumors 68000
Aug 26, 2006
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Atlanta, GA
Midterms and good test scores and a great GPA are not generally an indicator of how well you will do as an employee. I sucked in school. I hated history and hated literature. Had numerous Ds and a few Fs through school. I don't even know what my GPA was, but it couldn't have been good. But I'm really, really good at my job and make plenty of money.
 

Herdfan

macrumors 6502
Apr 11, 2011
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No problem.

A 86-100
B 70 - 85
C Below 70.

Just publish the new scale so employers will know who they need to hire.
 

impulse462

macrumors 68000
Jun 3, 2009
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No problem.

A 86-100
B 70 - 85
C Below 70.

Just publish the new scale so employers will know who they need to hire.
id go with anything below 65 is a C, but just my personal opinion. Overall, this could work, but depends on the class

In my biochemistry class (and plenty of engineering classes). The average on the exams was between a 40-50. So they decided anything above a 70 was a straight up A.
 

Zenithal

macrumors G3
Sep 10, 2009
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Seems as with every new generation attending university the general IQ and ability to process information goes down. It's a waste. These are the same people who likely majored in something useless and will then whine because they can't make enough money to pay off their loans or live. They'll whinge about spending $200K and not having decent job offers lined up after, then blame everyone but themselves.
 

A.Goldberg

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Jan 31, 2015
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I went to school originally intending to be a finance major, but ended up with a doctor of pharmacy degree + 2 year clinical specialty residency. Now maybe abolishing meanful grades and metrics of learning might work in some majors, but if I screw up on the job, someone dies. It's best for society to filter out the poor performers. I risk my license revoked, my career over, and a ruined conscious if I don't know my stuff.

College is about preparing people for life. If students are crying life is too hard and bad grades are hurting their feelings, how can they expect to work and live in the real world? And complaining about term papers? Seriously? You want to go to college and get the degree yet not put in the work? Sounds pretty typical of kids these days (I'm much older myself). Excuse the generalization but many of them want/expect everything for nothing. The entitlement factor seems to be getting worse and worse.

Oberlin is a very good school. If they're in over their heads, maybe rather than seeking the dumbing down their educational institution they should go to a less rigorous school. Community college is always an option.

I sympathize with those suffering from mental health issues, I see a lot of students day after day stressed out by school and as a result performing poorly. If that's the case, they should take time off from school and resolve their issues. And it's okay to admit a certain school maybe isn't a good fit for all they accept.


My department chair gets after me if I have a lecture class where the average is higher than a C...
At my university you had to have C- or higher to pass the class. In a couple classes you needed a B-. I don't understand abolishing anything under a C... Does that mean a C is now a failing grade?

I really don't believe any of this stuff actually happens.
I had a psychology class that was more about social justice and politics than anything else. The prof was a bit of a wack job.
 

ctg7w6

macrumors 6502
Oct 23, 2014
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Midterms and good test scores and a great GPA are not generally an indicator of how well you will do as an employee. I sucked in school. I hated history and hated literature. Had numerous Ds and a few Fs through school. I don't even know what my GPA was, but it couldn't have been good. But I'm really, really good at my job and make plenty of money.
Lol, no, you are wrong. You basically say that there is no objective way to ensure that you statistically more often hire the best people. In your world, whatever anybody's grades are, all A's or all C's, whatever school they went to, it's always just a roll of the dice.

I'll tell you what, let's each start a business. I will only hire people with straight A's from non-grade inflation schools, you only hire people with straight C's from non-grade inflation schools (all from an equal representation of mid-tier to elite schools). Sure, you may find a few gems here and there (as you claim to be), but I'll find a whole lot more.

If you don't agree to this, then please retract your contention that "midterms, good test scores, and a great GPA are not GENERALLY an indicator of..." Because, I say GENERALLY, they are. Not every time. But generally.
 

bunnspecial

macrumors 604
May 3, 2014
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At my university you had to have C- or higher to pass the class. In a couple classes you needed a B-. I don't understand abolishing anything under a C... Does that mean a C is now a failing grade?
This is something I too don't understand. At my undergraduate school, a D was considered failing the class at least for both graduation and pre-req purposes. In graduate school, a C was considered failing and two consecutive semesters with a GPA below 3.0 was grounds for dismissal from the program.

At least grad school, most professors I knew graded HEAVILY on a curve since a typical exam average might be 50%. It was rare to get below a C in a graduate class(and a C wasn't the end of the world since an A in another class could make up for it) but I did know if it happening where a particular student was substantially behind the rest of the class.

In any case, my department is a "feeder" program for healthcare schools(medical, dental, etc) and in the 200 level classes you are expected to test to a students to a level that they SHOULD know. My first semester teaching Chemistry 201(general chemistry for science majors) I had the unofficial 201/202 coordinator(a professor who has been teaching the subject for 30 years) review every exam to make sure they were not too easy, not too difficult, and covering the appropriate amount of material at the appropriate depth. My typical exam average was a mid-C with a couple of students scoring high As(generally at least one perfect score) and a couple scoring 20% or lower. I tended to get a nice Gaussian distribution over 100 students which, as heartless as it may sound, is about where it should be.

In addition, for this particular course we gave a combined, cumulative all-section final. Every professor submitted questions, and then we met and collectively agreed on what would appear on them. My students' scores on this exam averaged out to within one standard deviation of every other professors', and with all said and done I think my best student ended up with a 97% average and my worst an 18% with, again, a nice gaussian mid-C distribution.

I hate to treat students as statistics, but unfortunately when you cover what is considered "standard" material for a subject and give exams covering a sufficient breadth and depth of material, you find that-amazingly enough-most students are average.

In upper level STEM classes, "honors" classes, and graduate classes, this dynamic can change a fair bit. In fact, for Chem 201 and 202 we often calculate statistics in honors vs. non honors sections since the average on those tend to be a high B or low A with the lowest grade being a low C. The honest to goodness truth is that in freshman and sophomore classes-at least in STEM fields-you are often in a sink or swim environment and only the strongest survive.

If I deviate from the average, I WILL hear from the department chair about it. Since he knows me well enough and has seen enough of my lectures to know how I teach, he's going to want to see my exams to make sure they are appropriate. Sometimes I just get a really good or really bad group of students, and if that's the answer that's the end of it, but-outside of an honors class-that's an exception rather than a rule.
 
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jnpy!$4g3cwk

macrumors 65816
Feb 11, 2010
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No problem.

A 86-100
B 70 - 85
C Below 70.

Just publish the new scale so employers will know who they need to hire.
This sort of traditional scale is generally useful in high school and in college classes where breadth is the main goal. e.g. Freshman history. It is mostly too compressed for math, chemistry, physics, where you can generally assume that people are a certain level or they would never have gotten there to begin with, but, you want to differentiate between students who generally get it and students who really get it. You might have 3-4 hard to impossible problems on an exam.

This is something I too don't understand. At my undergraduate school, a D was considered failing the class at least for both graduation and pre-req purposes. In graduate school, a C was considered failing and two consecutive semesters with a GPA below 3.0 was grounds for dismissal from the program.

At least grad school, most professors I knew graded HEAVILY on a curve since a typical exam average might be 50%. It was rare to get below a C in a graduate class(and a C wasn't the end of the world since an A in another class could make up for it) but I did know if it happening where a particular student was substantially behind the rest of the class.
You pretty much sum it up. A successful exam is one which places students at the correct location on the curve. A poor exam doesn't correctly differentiate between the mediocre, the good, and the excellent.
 

bunnspecial

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May 3, 2014
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You pretty much sum it up. A successful exam is one which places students at the correct location on the curve. A poor exam doesn't correctly differentiate between the mediocre, the good, and the excellent.
One discussion I've had with students(fortunately, usually, good students) is that when I give a grade, I want to actually MEAN something. I'd like to think that students who earn an A in my class are getting that grade because they truly learned and understand the material.

I'd LOVE it if I had a class where every student did so well that they all earned an A, but unfortunately that is the exception rather than the rule. Such a class would simultaneously be both a joy to teach and a lot of work, as I would know that the students were going to keep me on my toes about everything I said. Of course, it also frees me up to do things like intentionally make mistakes and say incorrect things to give students a chance to catch it and learn it even better themselves.

As I said, though, in your typical class of 100-200 freshmen, that just isn't going to happen and-again-if you earn an A in my class I want it to actually mean that you performed at the top of your class. Inflating lower grades does nothing but devalue the grades of the higher achieving students.

BTW, I work at a largish state research university. Interestingly enough, I was talking not too long ago with someone who is a Biology faculty member at our affiliated community college. He was quite frustrated at the fact that the administration is practically forcing grade inflation on them and that a B average in his department is treated the same way as a C average in our department.

Standardized tests-whether the SAT, ACT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT, etc-have their problems but if nothing else they are something of an objective, independent measure of students' achievement.
 

thekev

macrumors 604
Aug 5, 2010
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No problem.

A 86-100
B 70 - 85
C Below 70.

Just publish the new scale so employers will know who they need to hire.
I suspect you never took a course in any technical subject. Professors can really scale the difficulty of the material up or down and make it more memorization dependent or reasoning dependent. The hardest ones are usually the ones where they provide formula sheets, yet everything is either a proof or a complicated problem. A median final might be around 55-65% in a really difficult course (I was lucky enough to an outlier on a few of these). Check a few archived course pages if you don't believe me. I can tell that you're uninformed on this subject though.


So they want social promotion in College now? Fail.
[doublepost=1464352939][/doublepost]

Sit on an interview panel sometime. I work in aviation and some ass clown spent his entire interview talking about how he wanted to save the planet through zero emissions. I finally had to ask him how he thought that would be possible with aircraft. He didn't have an answer. I assume he's still off trying to save the planet. God that kid thought he was so freakin smart. I might be wrong though. Maybe economic reality finally set in for him and he had to take some kind of job, like flipping burgers.
What makes you think that his naivete dooms him to that? It's likely that he was a bad match for you. How do you claim to know anything else about the guy? It gets old when people never develop any ability to examine their own ideas, but you're clearly referring to someone young who was sufficiently qualified to receive an interview. This assumes that your organization is competent at screening resumes.
 
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samiwas

macrumors 68000
Aug 26, 2006
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Lol, no, you are wrong. You basically say that there is no objective way to ensure that you statistically more often hire the best people. In your world, whatever anybody's grades are, all A's or all C's, whatever school they went to, it's always just a roll of the dice.

I'll tell you what, let's each start a business. I will only hire people with straight A's from non-grade inflation schools, you only hire people with straight C's from non-grade inflation schools (all from an equal representation of mid-tier to elite schools). Sure, you may find a few gems here and there (as you claim to be), but I'll find a whole lot more.

If you don't agree to this, then please retract your contention that "midterms, good test scores, and a great GPA are not GENERALLY an indicator of..." Because, I say GENERALLY, they are. Not every time. But generally.
You are right. I should not have said "generally". But let's face it...you can have a high GPA, but not really have much common sense at all. Or, you can have a worse GPA, and squash everyone else in actual real-world knowledge.

But, a lot of this comes back to the "we can't find qualified applicants" statement we hear so much. Well, if you base it on factors like that, maybe you're shooting yourself in the foot.
 

ctg7w6

macrumors 6502
Oct 23, 2014
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You are right. I should not have said "generally". But let's face it...you can have a high GPA, but not really have much common sense at all. Or, you can have a worse GPA, and squash everyone else in actual real-world knowledge.

But, a lot of this comes back to the "we can't find qualified applicants" statement we hear so much. Well, if you base it on factors like that, maybe you're shooting yourself in the foot.
I definitely agree that someone who looks really good on paper may end up being lackluster. But what do you propose in its stead? Let's take an example from medical school. GPA is a HUGE factor. I think that it's basically if you don't have a 3.7+ you almost have to go into a D.O. program instead of an M.D. program. If you really want to get into an M.D. program with a lower GPA, you need to do a one or two year long post-bacc program (and obviously do really well). Should we roll the dice on some of the lower GPA people who haven't done a post-bacc program?

Obviously most fields aren't so life-and-death oriented, but how many resources should we expend to test people who have already done poorly over four or five years of college? People already look for upward grade trends to see if the transition to college or some external factor was mitigating performance. This is valid. We already have policies like affirmative action that pre-suppose such external factors, even if a student was not personally afflicted with poverty. Sometimes this is valid, sometimes it is not.

What kinds of factors should we base things on, if not GPA, test scores, etc? Sure, a few people could be scrounged up that don't "really qualify," but maybe it's something else... Maybe there JUST AREN'T enough qualified applicants.

I think it comes down GENERALLY to two scenarios: the brilliant guy who was too lazy to do well and the dull person who, predictably, did not do well. Employers do not want either one, understandably. I'm all for expanding the search to find those "gems hidden in the rough," but how far would I (or you) go as a business that needs to make money and cannot afford to continually roll the dice?
 

Herdfan

macrumors 6502
Apr 11, 2011
267
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No problem.

A 86-100
B 70 - 85
C Below 70.

Just publish the new scale so employers will know who they need to hire.