The Importance of Letter Grades in College

The Importance of Letter Grades in College

While some colleges are turning toward a trend of eliminating letter grades in college courses, many students feel it is important to keep letter grades.

Keep Letter Grades in College

In several different university around this country, a new trend has been forming. Some colleges have begun to drop the accepted tradition of grading in their courses. The long-standing tradition of using letter grades to evaluate performance in universities has started to be replaced by courses that offer instructor comments instead. While many students and teachers are in support of the new trend, many others are concerned about the quality of student evaluation if this trend continues to grow. This issue is currently being debated at many institutions of higher learning throughout the country. In order to come to a s solution concerning whether or not to keep the current grading scale intact, it is necessary to look at the reasons supporting and opposing this issue.

The students and faculty who support these changes do so for several reasons. Many students feel pressured to get an A in their classes; they believe this pressure would be alleviated by the elimination of grades. For these students, another reason for abolishing grades are their teachers. They feel, in some cases, that their grade is directly related to the instructor’s personal judgment of them. The instructors supporting this change do so because they think the current grading system does not reflect all aspects of a student’s achievements. In this they are probably correct. There are several areas to be evaluated in a course; class participation and attendance are just two examples. Similarly, teachers may feel pressure to assign a single letter to represent all the different areas of their class’ achievements in order to satisfy the student’s need to know how well he or she is doing. Another pressure for teachers is assigning letter grades to a student who doesn’t deserve such a grade. If a student is doing well on tests and assignments, the grade he or she receives will reflect that. If the same student did not do well on tests, but seemed learn quite a bit from the course, a letter grade will not reflect that.

 While these are good reasons for eradicating the current grading scale, I feel it is necessary to keep letter grades in order for a faculty member to provide feedback to a student. Once I was enrolled in an undergraduate philosophy class where no grades were assigned, or even hinted at until the midterm exam. This was a source of stress for my classmates and me. Our professor would occasionally tell one of us if we were doing something he thought particularly remarkable; with that exception there was no other feedback. After continual complaints, he agreed to test us every week and assign grades for those tests. In doing so, my classmates and I felt much less pressure; from then on we know where we stood in our performance, which was important for those of us on scholarships.

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