To D or not to D, that is the question

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2 Responses

  1. Mike Dimino says:

    I think you correctly note that each class will be different in terms of how much worse the bottom of the pack is from the rest. So far, though, I definitely side with being a lower grader than necessary. I have given Fs to students the past two semesters, and though I feel sorry for some of the students, I know that the exams they turned in did not show a minimal competence in the subject matter (or, generally, in English usage).

    Giving grades at the very low end of the curve allows me to make up for it at the high end, and also helps give me a reputation as a tough grader, which means that students self-select into my classes to some extent. Both of these are side-effects, though. I give low grades because I cannot honestly satisfy myself that the students should receive credit for the course given their exams (and papers).

    If Ds are the kiss of death, then there is a substantial detrerence function to giving them — deterring, that is, slacking off. Additionally, low grades encourage students who would be poor lawyers or who would fail the bar exam to find other careers. This last effect also helps the school, as U.S. News will get better bar-passage and post-graduation employment statistics.

  2. J says:

    “Additionally, low grades encourage students who would be poor lawyers or who would fail the bar exam to find other careers.”

    Are you kidding me? It is presumptuous to make all those generalizations. A student does not deserve an F unless they were incapable of spotting any issues and failed to provide a semblance of something that looks like a response to the fact pattern. I know I got a couple of D’s for not outlining. I had a mental block on two separate occasions and forgot to analyze an issue. It wasn’t because I didn’t understand the concepts or fact patterns.