More than a grade: QC professors refuse to curve exam grades

4 mins read

An unwillingness to curve grades perpetuates the archaic notion that education can be finite. Academia should not be based on a system of punishment.  


Students should not be punished for not always being on their A-game, for not learning at the same pace as their classmates or for experiencing anxiety while taking exams.  


Professors are scholars, people who have been through years of schooling themselves – and yet, many seem to have forgotten the struggles of being a student.


Navila Rahman, a junior chemistry major, said that none of her professors believe in curving exam grades. “They say life’s not going to give us any handouts in the future, so why should they?”


When asked if exceptions would be made if the majority of her class failed an exam, she revealed curving the exam still would not be allowed.  


Rahman detailed about how her professors are unwilling to give make ups, retakes or even extra credit assignments. “They don’t care that our GPA tanks because of one bad grade. Honestly, they just don’t seem to care about us at all.”  


However, Elementary education major Vicky Tzoros understood why curving grades is questioned by some professors. Tzoros offered up the notion that many people, primarily professors, think curving grades promotes a lack of responsibility. “Teachers don’t want students to think they’re going to end up passing no matter what kind of effort they put in.”


She agreed with the point professors have about passing everyone despite effort given in the class, but noted that this point can’t be applied to every student. “Often students feel indebted to the professor who curved their grade, and they feel motivated to keep their grade up so they’re willing to study harder for the next exam.”


One professor from the English department who preferred to remain anonymous, gave on her thoughts on curving. She believes curving grades requires the ability as a professor to self-reflect. “Sometimes I’m so sure I got a point across, but then students hand me work with that exact thing missing.”


In these situations, she understands not to deduce points, but to re-teach the topic is where she feels that curving undervalues grading. She ended our conversation saying she does not believe grades should be punitive. “I want you guys [students] to get jobs and do all you want to do. Who am I to stop you?”


Some professors are not too keen on the idea of curving grades.  


To an extent, they have valid points.  Some professors do not include curving to avoid students that do not apply themselves to the material, which is a waste of the professors teachings.


At the same time, the needs of the many should outweigh the needs of the few, and this idea is a detriment to students who do work hard in class, but slip up on an assignment or test despite trying their best.  


While it’s all in the teacher’s hands in the end, the students still deserve the benefit of the doubt since they are the ones receiving the grades at the end of the day.


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