Thursday, December 27, 2007

Helping Students Stay Loose

Student Helps on Points & Letter Grade
I taught public speaking at a local unnamed college here and most students figured it was a snap course and some were downright anti-social and kept asking the same old questions even when the grades had all been explained at length to them so I wrote this one page SYLLABUS for them to give them at the start of the course so there wouldn't be any mistakes about what their grade meant when they got their grade. In other words, for the thousandth time I would not be hearing "sir, what does the grade mean?" I made this syllabus so painstakingly simple and, as you will see, so glaringly obvious that even a idiot could get it. Dig?
I developed the points carefully. But guess what? An awful disappointing lot of them didn't get it.

SYLLABUS ADDENDUM Jan 24 2001: Student Helps on Points & Letter Grade
Students should be aware of what grades mean before they take a class. What students learn has everything to do with attaining a final letter grade. All the academic material stated in class has everything to do with working towards this end.
Meaning What?
A student may, after receiving a final letter grade, ask " but what does it mean?" or state, "but there was no explanation about why you gave me this grade." This sort of inquiry indicates that they don't know what the grade they got means. Understanding a letter grade comes by reading what the Community College 2000-2001 General Catalogue says about it. Paying sufficient attention to the syllabus is a help. Listening in class assists in this. Attending, instead of being absent, helps to understand how a letter grade comes to pass.
Students should know that knowing prior course material is what contributes to a final letter grade. What the student previously learns in class is what the final lone letter reflects.
Why Else? Students know what letter grades mean well in advance of getting one. Otherwise why would they shoot for it. The student has learned about them all semester long. Here is how a final letter grade develops:
1. The student learns what the final letter grade stands for before it is gotten. He has read the Community College 2000-2001 General Catalogue about it. After enrolling in class he learns academic concepts that the text and lectures set forth, as being necessary to receive this letter grade that comes at semester's end.
2. The student attends class and learns these concepts.
3. The evaluative measures that test how a student performs earn numerical points.
4. Numerical points indicate how many points were gotten on the test measures.
5. No letter grades are given during the semester. Only points are added up.
6. When the class ends, a student sees his total attainment by seeing his letter grade.
7. A final letter grade shows how the student performed over the whole course.
8. A final letter grade may have plus or minus signs.
9. The student learns text and lecture requirements in order to finish with the single letter grade for which he may be striving.
10. A final letter grade is the climax.
11. After it is received, it is not necessary for the teacher to meet with individual students to explain the meaning of a final letter grade.
12. Meeting with a student to explain a final letter grade would be anti-climactic because the student by now already knows what it stands for. Trying to explain it at that point would be like George W. Bush after taking the oath of office at his inauguration, turning to his wife and whispering, "how did I do?"
13. A letter grade is an outcome that in one, single, capital letter finally explains it all.
In his classes, wherever he teaches, in a building or on a beach, Dr. Merkley demonstrates extemporaneous public speaking as he presents the course material.

1 comment:

merkley??? said...

oh what fun it is to be an A-hole