Thursday, November 6, 2008

Should students have their marks publically posted for thier own good?

I’ve been a bit remiss in regards to posting because I’ve had a lull in school work and I’ve been catching up on sleep. However, when catching up on my blog reading I ran into this post on Sandwalk where Larry Moran asks whether (ignoring the legalities) it would be a good idea to publically post student marks along with names.

His answer:

I like the idea of publishing student's names and grades because it helps make them take responsibility for their activities at university. Very few people agree with me. They all think that a student has a right to privacy.

I’m one of those people who disagree. And it’s not because I would personally object to having my marks displayed with my name. I just don’t see a good argument for doing it.

Larry’s rationale posting marks with names doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t know what he means by taking “responsibility for their activities at university”. What responsibility and for which activities? Based on the comments, I’m assuming that he means taking studies seriously and putting forth a decent attempt at studying. In which case, I’m not buying it at all.

I don’t buy that argument, mostly based on my high school experiences (yes, I know it’s just anecdata). My high school, while not outright listing marks, used to manage to get pretty close to publically announcing everybody’s grades. They did this by having an awards ceremony were students would be given awards for their grades. The awards were so neatly segregated and there were quite a few different one that you would know what everyone got within 5-10%. Additionally, since my school was so small everybody pretty much knew each other’s marks precisely. And, frankly, I don’t remember caring much outside the hour or so we sat through the awards (and even then not much). But this is just my experience, and my high school experience at that.

However, even assuming publishing student marks helped motivate people to be responsible, I don’t see why it should be done at university. I assumed that when I went to university that I’d become responsible for my own successes and failures (like any adult), but if Larry Moran is right I can’t manage that. No, I have to be socially humiliated and shamed (admit it that’s all this argument amounts to) into responsibility.


P.S. I'll try to make a few more posts in the next couple of days. In fact, depending on whether I end up taking a short trip tomorrow I might have a post up in the afternoon.


Thomas said...

It could lead to some awkwardness in any situation. In uni it would shame people if they had poor grades and I don't think the shame would help them improve, necessarily. It would possibly make them feel bitter and result in a drop out, if anything. In high school, well...

This is anecdotal, too, but I had a high school teacher tell the class I was in that when he was in high school they WOULD post the grades of everyone up on a wall senior year, and a result of this, he had to do some serious failing that year to make up for the straight As he was getting the previous three years so he wouldn't get pushed off from his group of 'normal' friends and forced into a situation where he could only interact with the 'nerd' clique. I have a suspicion that it would be like that in many, MANY high schools and it certainly would not bode well for students who wanted to make it into a good college but also valued their social life.

lost marbles said...

I hadn't even considered that since my high school was small and filled with over-achievers. That is a very good point, although I don’t know how much of an impact it has in university where good marks can have huge consequences getting jobs or getting into professional and graduate school.