Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

10 responses to “Feedback: RA01 + Q2AD2

  1. Jessica Lau January 2, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    In case you didn’t get my email, I found that, “contribute” in the sentence, “That red area indicates that a student who contribute negatively to the discussion would still pass—that, for example, a student who logged in and incoherently cursed out his classmates, thus losing points, would still pass.”, should say “contributed”, a grammatical error.

  2. Michelle Salazar January 3, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Grading without curving the grades would have been fair here, but it would have been detrimental to our learning experience. As Kohn points out, students are constantly fixated on grades. If many students had failed this assignment, they would merely freak out, and devout all of their attention toward the grade they just received, not actually contemplating how they could improve nor learning from the experience. After reading The Case Against Grades, I find myself agreeing with all the problems Kohn saw grades caused. One of the points of school is to teach us things, and it makes sense that we’d learn better if we weren’t all so focused on grades. The problem I see with eliminating grades in a high school class, though, is that I think most of our motivation has become extrinsic through ten years of always being graded, and students may not work as hard if they aren’t earning grades. However, with some time and effort I think students would find intrinsic motivation, and most people would learn a lot better. I’m getting off topic though. Basically, I don’t think there was a fair, accurate way to grade students that would have helped them learn.

    • Jessica Lau January 3, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I also agree, Michelle. After reading Kohn’s article, I feel that grades get in the way of the student’s actual learning experience. Yes, students do study certain concepts they need to remember in order to get a passing grade, but they only remember these concepts for a short amount of time in order to earn the grade, then immediately forget the concept right after they have earned a satisfactory enough grade. I think I have experienced the detrimental effects of grades myself. Sometimes, I have to face a situation where I have to use a concept I learned in a previous class, then I find my mind completely blank on the concept I was supposed to have learned from that previous class to help me. Like you said Michelle, if we eliminate grades altogether, how will the teachers keep the students’ work in check? Teachers give out school work to grade in order to make sure the student will learn the concepts, but it’s not like the teacher can eye each and every student’s working progress like a hawk in order to make sure they are learning, since some students don’t care if they are learning anything. I think grades should be used to a certain extent, but to an extent I can’t clearly answer.

  3. Darren Daughtry Jr. January 3, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I believe that If we had been graded without a curve it would have been fair but Its always nicer to have a higher grade than a lower grade. But what does Kohn mean by a “less enlightened age,”? Does he mean the 1940’s, 1950’s, or 1960’s? Or is he referring to some other time in the past? I agree with Kohn some students who focus on grades take the easy way out. Although there are students who don’t and complete assignments to the best of their ability. I disagree with Kohn when he says “grades tend to diminish the students interest in whatever they’re learning.” Personally, if I don’t like a certain subject nothing is going increase my interest in that subject. Similarly, If I love a certain subject nothing is going to decrease my interest in that subject.

    • Liam Lonegan January 7, 2013 at 12:56 am

      You’re absolutely right Darren, and I didn’t write my own post minutes ago because you summed up what I would’ve posted right here! I’d rather comment on yours in order to add to our argument. I understand that yes, grades give us an unhealthy focus point because they cause the student to do “enough” to get the grade; they don’t push them to explore and expand their mind. I wish we could learn for the sake of learning, and learning to feed our interests, but we can’t rely totally on our interests. Grades are bad, because a number will never perfectly measure how much we worked and thought and progressed. Relying on grades does “take the joy away” as Claire said at the beginning of the article, but grades give us a motivation. They give us a reminder that we need to stop watching our favorite show and study for our math tests, stop going out on Sunday nights because we need to finish our homework for Monday morning. If we didn’t have those grades, what would we have done? I know I would’ve watched ten more episodes of that show on Netflix and went out for coffee at 9pm on Sunday like my friend asked.

      Grades don’t diminish my interest in subjects. What they do is force me to gain a respect for the material, as I’m reading my Psychology textbook or creating a mock Synthesis Essay prompt. But all because I was forced to do that work! The grades forced me to gain that experience that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I respect the knowledge of the Psychology textbook and I respect the experience gained from the mock prompt, but I wouldn’t have possessed enough motivation to complete those tasks without an assessment or some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

      So, it’s great that we have less failures for this assignment but in the scheme of things, does a Raw Score of 3 fairly reflect that the student contributed nothing? No, I don’t think it does.

  4. Alessandra Ferraro January 3, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    The question asked is, “What would have been fair here?” This was in response to our feedback to our Rhetorical Analysis: King’s “Horror Movies” and Adversarial. The alternative in scaling our responses was fair and affective in my opinion. Grades would have been rigorously demeaning without the curve which in the end, students in our AP class would be enraged as we demand mainly beneficial and favorable grades. According to Kohn’s argument grades, to students, merely mean the world to us. If students receive a failing grade they would freak out and do anything possible devoting their attention to fix it or complain that it wasn’t too there standard. Why do we as students “freak out” and devote our time and learning experiences just for grades? I believe grades are our determinate for a successful life. Going back to Kohn’s argument student devout attention to the grade, not on how to improve your learning capability and how you can improve the grade itself instead of always relying on the curve to save you from failing. Early in the year, your transcript on essay grading strictly points out not to pay attention to grades because it will simply stress you out. I must say I wasn’t content with that response. In my case I care about all my grades and only focus on ways to bring it us. That does take time and focus on the learning experience of what school is mainly about and here for.
    Kohn’s points on what grading causes for students have a positive effect on me. Grades in the end should be obliterated to diminish stress and position students to focus more on the learning experience. What are grades anyways; merely it’s just a number? Getting back on topic your point with is the curve grading effective I believe it could be both ways. Yes is effective in helping people with their grades, which is all student focus on and it creates a calm atmosphere for the student. However it also isn’t effective in it simply doesn’t teach students the consequence of getting a bad grade and learning from it, this curve basically is your teacher helping you out so you wont fail, where’s the learning in that? Don’t get me wrong I always want good grades but I want to earn it instead of receiving it from my teacher for a boost.

  5. Abigail Verille January 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    I found another article by Alfie Kohn on grading that some of you may be interested in. It focuses mostly on why a student should be graded and not so much on how the process “should” work. The title sums up the article entirely “GRADING: The Issue Is Not How but Why.” I figured this would be another useful source to branch off of the first article “The Case Against Grades.”

    http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/grading.htm

  6. William Eckner January 12, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I think that the Quarter 2 Adversarial 2 assignment was quite fair as far as understanding how to receive a good grade is concerned. I also think that the scaling of the grades was fair. I don’t think that anyone could saying that inflating our scores is some sort of injustice. One thing that did feel unfair while the discussion was going on was that I didn’t know how many posts it would take to get to a desirable grade. However, in retrospect, I would say that it was a good thing not to know. Not knowing eliminated the possibility of what Kohn calls “the easiest possible task,” because there was no “goal” and, if there was, it was for us to take the “intellectual risks” that Kohn says grades discourage.

    Kohn also states that grades take our focus away from the actual assignment and draw it toward achievement. In the case of our assignment, I believe the opposite to be true. I agree with Darren, if an intrinsic motivation isn’t present from the outset, then it probably can’t be created. However, I disagree with Kohn when he says that extrinsic motivation is counterproductive. In the case of the adversarial grade, a strong extrinsic motivation might have pushed one to read all of the comments and actually consider the issue, because that was the easiest way to receive a good grade.

    As far as “all of the comments” are concerned, they might be one thing that was a bit disorienting. I think that one way to better organize the discussion would be to have different threads for different aspects of the discussions. Something like google groups, but separate from previous discussions. A concern I have for this idea is that it may narrow people’s thinking.

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