I agree with Jesse Stommel that grades will sometimes hinder my ability to perform in a class as I get too anxious about getting a bad grade which causes me to stress out and hinder my performance in the class that I am trying to achieve a high grade in. A bad grade will also discourage me and lower my self-esteem more than a good grade will encourage me and uplift my self-esteem. That is why I found Stommel’s way of teaching very beneficial to his students’ mental health and overall performance in learning and retaining the material in his course without having the strain on one’s mental health as a class with a grade would tend to have. I found the statistics fascinating when Stommel mentioned that in the months of May-December, students search the term “grades” more often than in other months. Usually, around May and December are when grades come out and that is when students have an increased level of stress and anxiety as they look up the consequences of bad grades and how they could decrease their chances of upward mobility later on in life. I also worry about my grades, especially during finals week, as I’m also trying to be upwardly-mobile and attend a medical school after I graduate. Also, I learned that grade inflation affects African American students at disproportionate rates. It was unfortunate to learn that some schools require teachers to give out more B and C grades by curving their classes to adjust to grade inflation as that does not seem fair to the students who would receive a lower grade due to the success of their peers and not the grade they earned. For example, a student could receive a 93 but since the class average was higher than a 93 they would not receive an A in the course as they would in most other classes but would receive a B. That B could have a significant effect on their scholarships, future job applications, etc. Through Stommel’s article, I learned how curves are detrimental to learning and how privileged students have an advantage in curved classes. I was also intrigued by his take on the objectivity of grading and rubrics. He spoke about how rubrics tell the student what is expected of them and what the professor deems as excellent. I am looking at the learning and mental health implications of strict or mandatory attendance policies in undergraduate courses for my project. Usually, the way teachers enforce strict attendance policies, from my experience, is by deducting points from one’s participation grade. That is why I loved reading Stommel’s take on participation and how it is graded. Through Stommel’s article, I learned a lot about grading and some inequalities that occur through receiving a grade. 


Shared By: Ada Peschanskiy
Image Source: The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal
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