In today’s society we feel the need to be graded in order to learn. The topic of the grading system has sparked three essays, by three different authors, about the pros and cons of the grading system. First, Jerry Farber, professor at University of California at San Diego, wrote A Young Person’s Guide to the Grading System (333). Next is Steven Vogel, professor at Denison University, who wrote Grades and Money (337). The last two authors in this compilation are Stephen Goode and Timothy W. Maier. They both are journalists for Insight on the News. While each of these authors have their own point of view on the grading system, all three essays talk about how being graded affects learning.
Before we can look at how grading affects learning Farber suggests we look at how it has affected students (333-334). The greatest effect of being graded happens to the individual. Farber asks, “Did you need grades to learn how to drive?” We have become “grade junkies.” Without the grades students can’t learn (333). Vogel agrees that students believe grades are the motivating factor in learning, but only for the money. Students want the grades because high GPA’s equal high paying jobs (338-339). Another negative effect of grades is that students want the best grade with the least amount of learning but this causes conflict with professors because the professor’s goal is different compared to the student’s (339). Grades have positive effects too. Farber believes that grades give us discipline, but not self-discipline. True self-discipline comes from wanting something not coercion (334). Farber defines self-discipline as revising one paragraph all night because one enjoys it (334.)
We see a constant struggle between students and professors when it comes to the grading scale. These differences make learning a hassle. “I am placed in the position of having to figure out new ways to trick them into learning by designing ingenious new ways to grade,” says Vogel (339). The present grading system pushes students to take easy classes. Students on scholarships are afraid of taking hard classes because they run the risk of loosing financial aid if their grades don’t meet the average (Vogel 339). Farber agrees, “Getting graded turns people away from hard subjects,” (334). He offers his readers a utopia free of grades. This new system goes by credits. If you pass a course you get credit. There would be no penalty for failing a course (334-335). This puts students in a position to develop true self-discipline. With this tool students get out of being lazy and into school to get educated (334).
The present system of grading has changed in the past 10 years. Vogel remembers the time when grades weren’t talked about. Now, students are always talking about their grades. This talk puts tremendous pressure on teachers to give high marks. The students think that’s the only thing the teacher is...