When people respond to the automated sbg persuader, I get anonymous email with their disagreements. Here are a few messages along the same theme.
In response to the premise that “if a students’ level of understanding changes, so should his or her grade,” I received:
At age 46 I do not recall everything that I learned in my engineering classes 25 years ago. However, those grades reflected my ABILITY to grasp and use the information AT THAT POINT IN TIME. Given the time and putting in the effort, I could attain those grades again. For example, I just passed the Praxis II with high marks, but had to study almost a year to recall all that I had forgotten.
This writer is suggesting that his grades from college shouldn’t retroactively go down just because he hasn’t bothered to keep refreshing his memory every month for the last 25 years. The grades he earned represent what he knew THEN, and don’t need to constantly change to reflect what he knows NOW. Can’t the same argument be applied within a single year? Why should Sarah, who was fantastic at addition in October, be penalized because she can’t remember how to do it in May? And why should Chekol, who showed perfect memorization of Native American tribe names in September, have his grade lowered after forgetting half of them in April? Can’t these students just look this stuff up? We’ve already seen that they have the capacity to know it, after all.
I got many messages with this idea, that grades shouldn’t necessarily be lowered.
100, 100, 100, 100, 70, 50. Did this student forget addition? How do you forget addition after 4 successes? Or did their house burn down near the end of the year?
and in the opposite direction, with an extreme example, another commenter asked
But how can I account for the timeliness of learning?
He or she went on to wonder whether learning about fission after the enemy has the bomb should “count for as much.”
These questions strike deep into the heart of the philosophy of providing easy remediation and very flexible grades. I have my own ideas, but I’ll write them in the comments. Please write with your own responses!