I personally like to view grades the same way I view the number that pops up on my scale: it’s just a number and it holds no barring on my value. I admit that it’s not always easy to tell myself those things after receiving a less than ideal grade on something I studied my ass off for or seeing a larger number than I had expected after eating lean protein and veggies. Just like we are constantly bombarded by media of what “beauty,” “health,” and “attractiveness” are, society tells us that our success is dependent on our education, our GPA’s, and our careers. College is an incredibly difficult time for numerous reasons and some students get wrapped up in letting grades define them instead of focusing on their growth as individuals.
Our mindsets have shifted from choosing a major that interests, fascinates, and lights a fire within us to what will be the most lucrative in the long run. These mindsets have almost turned us into intelligent and incapable robots. We take in information (sometimes), regurgitate it (sometimes), and spit it back out with little to no comprehension of what’s been heard or read. We look for buzz words, formulas, and other people’s work in order to (re)create work of our own.
For example, in the Public Speaking class I teach, there is a set rubric we are taught to follow and then grade from. It includes your basic public speaking skills such as eye contact, articulation, hand gestures, and a clear organizational pattern. These are all good things that I believe are important when public speaking but the rubric itself and the way the course is designed stifles any creativity on the student’s part. I’m obligated to knock off points for memorization, performances, and slam poetry pieces. It’s almost painful to write in the comments “I appreciated your creativity but…”
Something I struggle with is determining whether to grade to the student or grade to the curriculum. Do I punish a student for not performing to the rest of the classes standards even though they’ve improved tremendously? In a student’s mind, is a C+ really that much better than the C they’ve previously received? How am I suppose to motivate and encourage their improvement if I’m bound to “grade everyone on the same scale?” I understand the logic behind this but am still unsure as to how I feel about it.