Re: authenticity

Dave Lewis (dkl@IWAYNET.NET)
Thu, 22 Aug 1996 16:16:54 -0400

Geesh, go away for a couple of days and *one lousy word* in a post becomes
a new thread! <grin>

>On Tue, 20 Aug 1996, Dave Lewis wrote:
>> I don't see why grades in any class are not destructive, why they don't
>> promote false notions of what *learning* is and why they don't help to
>> force students into ways of "learning" that are unlike any they will
>> encounter IRL!
On Tue, 20 Aug 96, Darlene Sybert wrote:
>What specific ways are you talking about that will not be ways of
>learning they will encounter in real life?

I was thinking of the minimalist exercises that we use in the "right
answer" subjects like math, science, grammar etc, where we give "objective"
tests with multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, diagram-that-sentence or
rd-time-being-interested-in questions. Then we add up the points and assign
a grade. Since that's the way the grade is determined, the student who
choses to play the game is "forced" to learn how to take multiple choice
tests or to learn what a particular teacher is apt to have her fill in the
blanks, etc. Tell me how useful those 'skills' are and how they would be
encountered IRL?

I'm sure you, and most of the subscribers to this list do not use such
degrading forms of evaluation in arriving at grades, but a *lot* of
teachers in the large, do.

Darlene, I was not trying to attack you or your methods. The reason for
including your quote in my post was to call attention to the fact that,
even in courses in which there are supposed to be "right answers," students
are not routinely encouraged to *learn* as a requisite for getting a good
grade. That is, there should not be innate differences in giving grades in
science courses
or in comp courses. As well, the method of determining the grade in any
course does "force" the behavior of the participating student -- for good
or ill.

>For my classes, students read, think, discuss, "trouble-shoot," make
>plans with co-workers, implement the plans and write a "report" about all
>of that designed to educate or persuade a target audience.
>Which of those "ways of learning" is it that you think is not pursued in
>professional life...or any life for that matter?

No. Sounds good to me. Again, sorry if I seemed to be pointing at you and
Marcy and blaming you for giving grades.

>And I also have to object to your use of the word "force." There is no
>"force" used at UMC to my knowledge. Students are here voluntarily...
>the only "force" is their desire to learn, get a degree and/or keep
>their parents happy. I have nothing to do with instilling or "enforcing"
>any of those motivations...they are all student-generated. So in what sense
>am I as an instructor "forcing" them to learn in certain ways?

I stand by the use of "force" (and wonder at the thread generated thereby! =8-)
Not forcing students to come to UMC (or any other campus), not forcing them
to desire to get a degree to keep their parents happy (although I question
that as necessary, although probably sufficient motivation for attending
college). BUT, when they walk into any class and the teacher sets forth the
grading parameters for that course, she is determining the way the game
must be played in that course -- ie "force"ing the student to behave in a
certain way to pass or excell in that class. If, on the other hand, the
primary motivation of the student was to *learn* something; and if the
motivation of the teacher was to help her learn, then why should anyone
worry about grades? Either she learned something or not. Who should care if
she did "better" than Johnny? How could anyone even tell what constitutes
better-than-Johnny? Multiple choice tests like SAT? LSAT? the Ohio
Proficiency tests <grrrr>? How are those related to anything IRL?


Grades are blunt instruments used to pummel minds into submission.
--Eric Crump