Give me the digits

Today I was completely out of my element. Unlike most of you I have never taught a full course. I hope to eventually so I was more interested today to listen to those of you who have actually been through this process.

I have come to the conclusion that I am old school. I want the grade mark. I want you to break it down for me into pieces and tell me what needs to be done to accomplish that. I don’t want to decide what to give myself. I am in YOUR classroom, I am perfectly comfortable with your abilities to tell me what number value my work has.

Having recently finished a Holland College program I can tell you that two of the courses has a pass/fail, and all others were a number grade. I detested the pass/fail. I felt it did not measure in any way the tremendous amount of work and hours that I put into it to complete the requirements. The courses that had the number grade? I saw those digits as proof of what I had done.

“So… if you want an A – do that much work. Only want a C? Do that much work”

Dave makes this point in his article. I guess because I haven’t had students it seems a bit bizarre to me that an adult would have this mindset going into a course that they’ve paid to be in. It makes me sound simplistic and naive perhaps, but shouldn’t we assume that everyone is in the class to do their best? Maybe that’s my 80’s elementary school self talking.


5 thoughts on “Give me the digits”

  1. I can appreciate how you feel, its hard not to have those numbers to give you the acknowledgement of a job well done when that is what you are use to. I do think that there is a place for pass/fail, however it depends on the material covered in the course.

  2. Hi Christine,

    Way to give an honest opinion! You have some logical points and I see where you are coming from. However, I think the point of a learning contract is to provide students with an opportunity to take ownership of their learning experience. As far as I am concerned, assessment is a huge can of worms and is one of the more challenging aspects of being an instructor. A learning contract takes some of the responsibility from the facilitator and puts it on the Learner. I think it’s a plus for both sides.


  3. Thanks for that Dustin! Having not been on that side of the equation yet I can see your point about taking responsibility. I tend to forget that not everyone is willing to give 100% and might need that incentive.

  4. Hi Christine,

    I liked your point about “it seems a bit bizarre to me that an adult would have this mindset going into a course that they’ve paid to be in”. For me it is hardwired to strive for every mark that I can get. My brain doesn’t seem to calculate in %effort.


  5. Christine,

    The more I read your posts, the more I think, this is a cool lady. I think I may have to subscribe to the “Penny Saver” to see some more of your readings. Or perhaps you really could be a blogger?!

    I’m with you in that I HATE the pass/fail stuff. Ugh. I want the number too. Preferably a high number.

    Your comments on students having paid to be in a course, so isn’t that incentive to do well? One would think. However just because you and I think that way, and shell out about $600 per course. Doesn’t mean everyone does. For instance a lot of Holland College kids (18-20 yr olds?) are attending on their parents dime. Many others receive funding from Skills PEI where 70% of tuition is covered, and they receive EI/childcare subsidy while they’re in school. While I think these programs are great/necessary/useful. They may not always leave (an unmotivated) student with the vested interest in success.

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