Change of grade

I just submitted the paperwork here at Berkeley to change the grade for one of my students. I had neglected to mark in my records the extra points he received for rewriting some of his papers, and that changed his grade from a B to a B+.

(The Icelandic grading system, as far as I understand it, is on a 10 point scale, such that a 8.5 would be equivalent to a B in the American system. This may be common throughout Europe; I would not know.)

Turning in the paperwork to our department administrator led to a lively discussion of students and their obsession with grades. In many cases, this is not their obsession, but rather their parent's obsession. Students as young as 9 years old, my colleague was telling me, often have it drilled into their heads that they have to get straight As all the time. And this is what leads to plagiarism; it is the student's response to being told over and over again that the final grade is what matters, and not the process by which they get that grade. They feel justified downloading papers from the internet, or having their friends--or worse yet their parents--write them for them, as long as it gets them the grade they want.

I know my student is not happy with a B+, but he should be. Because I know he wrote the papers himself, and I know he improved throughout the semester. A B+ at Berkeley in a literature class is not something to sneeze at, if I do say so myself, especially for an engineering student from China.

It is better to take responsibility, and do your own work, than it is to get an A you did not earn.


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