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« Job-Market Boot Camp, Part 14: Writing Samples | Main | MacAskill on whether one should become a philosopher »

06/24/2015

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Filippo Contesi

So much work on your part, Marcus! I'm impressed by the commitment to students this shows of you. I am generally very sympathetic to your worries about grade inflation of the typical kind and to your efforts with students in this respect. Thank you for sharing. This is such a great and useful blog! The second kind of grade inflation you describe doesn't strike me as problematic (at least as long as the process is completely fair and even the best students get a chance to rewrite their papers to get stellar grades or just learn more about writing). However, it is different from grade inflation of the typical kind in that it isn't across years but within a single year. In fact, if you see the essays written before the final grade as simply procedural work that is mock-graded or grade-projected, then yours might not strictly speaking count as a case of grade inflation after all.

Marcus Arvan

Hi Filippo: Thank you for your kind words. I agree: I don't consider what I do to be a genuine (or at least pernicious) form of grade inflation. This is sort of why I wrote the post--to emphasize that students getting good grades isn't a bad thing if the process that got them there was rigorous, giving them chances to improve!

Justin Kalef

Hi, Marcus.

What you're describing is excellent practice, and not grade inflation at all. You're giving every assignment or draft the grade it deserves, with no inflation. It's just that your students have the opportunity to try more times to develop to the point where they can produce work that is objectively deserving of a non-inflated high grade.

The only moral or pedagogical difficulty in the offing here, it seems to me, is the different one of your doing the students' work for them. But it doesn't follow from your description that you're doing this. If you are simply identifying places where their arguments and exposition are defective and leaving it to them to solve those problems themselves in the next draft, then they are still doing all the work themselves. I'll bet they're learning a ton.

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