Self-grading defies the purpose of learning, grades offer feedback for both students, professors

September 6, 2017

Sarah Bubke

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    When the stresses of the semester come down at midterms, many students might dream of the ability to choose their own grades.

    This fall, that became students’ reality in one class at the University of Georgia.

    UGA business professor Richard Watson added a “stress reduction” policy to his syllabus for the fall semester. This policy allows students to “indicate” what grade they think is appropriate if they’re feeling stressed without giving an explanation, according to a Sec Country article.

    Exams are also open book, only positive comments are allowed for presentations and students are encouraged to leave group meetings if they feel “stressed” by their “group’s dynamic,” according to the policy, which was posted on a Campus Reform article.

    UGA school officials wisely rejected the new policy earlier this month, calling it ill-advised. A university that followed this philosophy would lose all credibility.

    No matter how stressful school can get, creating a policy that allows students to choose their own grades and opt out of stressful situations takes away their motivation to prove an understanding.

    Grades motivate students to learn and master material, which can then be used in their future careers.

    It is easy as a student to want to agree with Watson.

    College is stressful. A full course load comes with extra hours of reading and assignment outside of lectures.

    School can take up most of the week, and many students work part time or full time on top of that. Building and maintaining healthy relationships can also become a challenge.

    But grades for class activities like exams and projects don’t just impact students.

    Professors often use grades to determine the effectiveness of their lectures. When a professor knows the strength and weakness of the class, he or she can adjust the course material to meet the needs of the students.

    Grades are meant to demonstrate an individual’s level of knowledge and ability. If everyone was able to amend their grades and cheat their way to a degree, employers would be unable to determine what any applicant actually knows.

    High school teachers warn students about the high expectations of college. This is not meant to scare the students, but to prepare them for the reality they face, so that they can embrace the challenge.

    A college degree means something. It proves that a student has been tested and persevered. The hardships that come along with what it takes to earn a degree means that it is worth it.

    If a student is so stressed that he or she cannot do the required work of the course, the student may need to reconsider their course load. Life happens; sometimes a break from school is needed. Many successful people have taken a non-traditional path to higher education.

    Students who need assistance with stressful situations, text anxiety or other concerns with their learning can be accommodated.

    Any student that is struggling with the stress of school and life can get assistance at the Gallogly Recreation and Wellness Center. If school life is too hard, it is okay to get help.

    I believe in the strength of students. There are plenty of stress-coping resources readily available at many universities.

     We don’t need our professors to worry so much about our wellbeing that our education is sacrificed.