Is school more about grades than actual learning?

Here is an interesting live debate, weigh in if you like!  Is school more about grades than actual learning?

I was interested in this topic after marking the first assignment for my nursing school class.  One student made the comment, “oh, we thought it was just an easy assignment so that everyone would get guaranteed full marks as a head start on their final grade”.  In personal appointments with more than one student who was unhappy with their mark, it was very obvious that they were hoping I’d change their score.  Yet, it was very clear when they questioned my marking, that they did not understand the assignment.  I felt then, like it was more the lost points they were worried about then learning why they had lost the marks.  importance-of-grades-to-college-students

It was the same when I marked the midterm exams…  I sent everyone their mark and also let them know what the average score was.  I received 4 emails back (in a class of 38), with students telling me they were disappointed in their score because they were anywhere from 0.2-0.4 points below the class average.  As well, I had one student who was disappointed with her mark – 92%!!  In fact, it was the highest mark in the class.  This kind of response from the students, with a focus on the actual score, rather than the exam content, made me question whether the course means anything to them, or if it’s just a grade.  Perhaps the assessment tools (exams and assignments) need to be re-vamped.  Or, maybe, as this article suggests, the students should appreciate the challenges and the valuable lessons they learned in college, and strive for self-improvement as a result of hard work.

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