Sunday, June 22, 2008

Grading students

I wrote this text some time time ago, to prepare for TOEFL. I don't remember if the timing was right, but I remember this was a subject I did not think too difficult to write about. Let's see how I did:


Grading students is known to be one of the hardest parts of being a teacher. Teachers sometimes prefer to rely on test grades, but some other times prefer to see the participation of the students in class. Personally, I believe both grade systems present positive and negative aspects.

When the grades are based uniquely on exam results, the process is more "impartial" on the one hand, but also more impersonal on the other. Being impartial in grading tests might be easier for the teacher, but the students might not feel that the teacher is close and concerned about them. Besides, there is always a chance that even the best students don't know the answer for one question, so that grades based on tests are not always the best tool to evaluate the preparation of the students. However, we have to consider there are students that are shy and do not like to participate in class. For these students, grades based on exams might be better.

The same kind of shy students that do not like participating and talking in front of the other classmates might be strongly disadvantaged in those courses where grades are based on participation. Since they do not like to participate, even though they study hard, they would never get good grades. Nonetheless, grades based on participation might be good for students that like to participate and show their interest in the subject. Moreover, the teachers that use this system are usually felt like being closer to the students and able to evaluate their progress more attentively.

Personally, I believe that none of these systems is actually very good if taken separately. I believe, instead, that, in order to give every student a chance, a fairer grade system should be based both on exam results as well as on participation. In this way both the shy and the outgoing students would be able to show their improvements and their hard work. Since it is up to the teacher to decide, I believe a sensitive educator would certainly take this into account, proving to be closer to and concerned with his own students.

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