A Response To Steven Vogel’s “Grades And Money”

1094 words - 5 pages

In “Grades and Money,” Steven Vogel makes it clear that he is disappointed and frustrated with what grades have become. He believes that grades have become commoditized and that students’ grades suffer because of their relation with money. Vogel also believes that students no longer take any risk with their education. I agree with Vogel that grades are being equated to money by students, that students’ work suffers because of grades, and that students no longer take risks in their educational process.
To begin with, I agree with Vogel that grades are being equated to money by many students. Vogel claims that because students see this way, they do things for the entirely wrong reason! Vogel writes, “The relationship between me and the students is really an exchange relationship: they provide me with work of a certain quality and I reward it—pay for it—by giving them credit...” (391). I can relate to what Vogel is saying here seeing as I too am a student. Being a student it sometimes feels like the work I turn in is a product, and in a sense the instructor is quality control. Taking a class is supposedly to place students into a learning environment, but instead it feels like it’s a business sometimes. The atmosphere usually makes me want do as little work as possible to get a decent or passing grade. Vogel then writes, “Students expect that their grade will indicate the amount of time they have put into their course, as if they were hourly workers…” (391). Vogel relates students’ time to that of hourly pay proportionate to the amount of time put into the class. As Vogel sees grades being equated to money by students, many students essentially think that the related class content is work, which in turn, they get paid for. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the students have the learned the content though. We remember what we need to for the job temporarily at hand, and then forget about it twenty seconds later, much like class work.
Furthermore, I agree with Vogel that students’ work suffers because of grades close relation to money. Vogel writes “If grades are money, and if the product for which they pay is learning, then it’s perfectly rational for students to try to minimize that learning while maximizing their “return” (391). Students are associating their work with getting paid, and are in a sense suffering because of it. I can relate to the fact that grades make a class seem as if it’s a job. Being a student I have played the numbers game, which is basically doing the least amount of work to pass a particular class. Occasionally I’ll try and preform the least amount of work to get a fairly decent grade. There are downsides though, I never really learn much about the subject. It reminds me of my senior year in high school where I would actually get out a calculator and see what I needed to get a C. It’s not that I didn’t know about the subject matter, I just found it really boring. Reducing the amount of knowledge students have to take in...

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