My school uses the software called Blackboard for courses. It’s got a discussion board function, you can send announcements, track assignments, see when people read things, etc., etc., etc. There are two things I do not like about it. One, I could put my lecture Powerpoint slides on Blackboard. I don’t wish to do that with my forensic material, because it is so sensitive. I don’t want anyone even thinking that photos of their dead loved one could show up on a university website. Granted, it is a closed system, only enrolled students could see it, but still, as I would not have it done to me, I prefer not to do it to others. Secondly, the grade function of Blackboard. Oh, my.
It can calculate a student’s grade to two decimal places. And it DOES. Students can see exactly how many marks they have on the system. And they will argue, fight, niggle, and whine over synonyms, or any ambiguity whatever. The registrar recognizes four grades: A, B, C, & F. The fun part is deciding where to put the cut-offs.
Humans being human, they segregate nicely into bell-shaped curves, particularly if there are a lot of them. At the end of the semester I look at the spreadsheet. There’s an obvious cluster at the top. Those are the As. There’s an obvious cluster at the bottom, those are the Cs. The ones earning less than a C dropped out, if they were wise.
Granted, if by some chance the entire class earned the exact same number of marks, they’d all get an A and I would go to Vegas, because there is a disturbance in the Force.
I do wish students would concentrate more on the application of knowledge, and less on the mark. I’ve had people crying in my office, because they “were A students, and now they’re not.” Gee. You’re in graduate school, with all the other stars from undergraduate school. Yes, you may not be the smartest person in the room anymore. Aside from the self-image, I teach foundation courses. The big picture won’t come together with understanding the anatomy, physiology, and pathology until the pharmacology and physical exam and clinical work kicks in.
That process takes a while. So, all my students have to show for their hard work is a number. That is the only concrete evidence of their performance. I get that. I do wish they would concentrate more on the application of knowledge, and the number will come. After all, the official grade is not from Blackboard, that’s for feedback, nor is it what one calculates from the answer key after the test. I’ve written test questions that no-one could answer correctly. I took those out of consideration, because if no-one got it I probably didn’t phrase the question right or didn’t explain it well enough in class.
Hopefully, they’ll put it all together.