[EAS]Theories of Grading
pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Mon Apr 8 17:05:47 EDT 2002
Subject: Theories of Grading
A timely, and not burdensomely philosophical, reminder about an
end-of-semester preoccupation. --PJK
(from NewsScan Daily, 8 April 2002)
WORTH THINKING ABOUT: THEORIES OF GRADING
What's your favorite theory of performance evaluation? The
quality of the work? The talent or effort of the person? How much
the person "grew" from doing the work? Some other theory?
Sally, the "Peanuts" character, rejects them all. Given a
grade of C, she says to her teacher:
"A 'C'? I got a 'C' on my coat-hanger sculpture? May I ask a
"Was I judged on the piece of sculpture itself? If so, is it
not true that time alone can judge a work of art?
"Or was I judged on my talent? If so, is it right that I be
judged on a part of life over which I have no control?
"If I was judged on my effort, then I was judged unfairly, for
I tried as hard as I could!
"Was I judged on what I had learned about this project? If so,
then were not you, my teacher, also being judged on your ability to
transmit your knowledge to me? Are you willing to share my 'C'?
"Perhaps I was being judged on the quality of the coat hanger
itself out of which my creation was made? Now, is this also not
"Am I to be judged by the quality of coat hangers that are
used by the dry cleaning establishment that returns our garments?
Is that not the responsibility of my parents? Should they not share
The teacher relents, and gives Sally a higher grade.
Whereupon Sally says to herself, "The squeaky wheel gets the
(And that is the text for this Monday's meditation on the
mystery of life.)
for the "Peanuts" collection "A Charlie Brown Valentine" by Charles
Schulz -- or look for it in your favorite library. (We donate all
revenue from our book recommendations to adult literacy action
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