Field of Science

Grading exams, evaluating students

Grading exams is not fun, nor is the final evaluation of student performances. The results as might be expected run from excellent to quite poor. What have they been doing? Do they really think that? Examples of illiteracy abound. Actually the top 10% and the bottom 10% have trouble believing that the other extreme exists. Part of the trouble at public universities, and here the Phactor broaches a politically incorrect topic, is that junior colleges don't help most of the poorer students catch up. Those students who went to a junior college out of necessity because of a lesser high school academic performance arrive at our university as juniors only to find the performance gap between them and students who were ready for university work has increased. And this is not to say that the instruction or instructors at junior colleges were poor, but in general students' study skills have not advanced and their expectations for what is an appropriate amount of work remain low. It is hard be rigorous when retention is a prime directive and student satisfaction drives faculty evaluations. It's true to some extent at the university level, but it's life and death at junior colleges. What can you do? You give them what ever help you can, but you must teach to the top end of your class, who mostly think the Phactor is a wonderful instructor, and some of them come from junior colleges too as there is more than one reason to attend a junior college. However it has been decreed, by our most recently convicted governor that anyone graduating from junior college has to be admitted to one of the public universities. One of the struggling students was in to question my evaluation of an essay. OK, here, read this, and tell me how you think yours compares. Well, mine's not as good, but you wrote this. That's quite an accusation because the Phactor did not write that, one of your fellow students wrote it. Total disbelief. Unfortunately it's my job to sort students into categories this time of year, and it must be done. So back to the piles of paper. Hope there won't be too many sad results.

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