Friday, September 13, 2002

I'm not really sure where this should fit in here (if it does fit in at all) but since it is an academic issue I will be ocntending with this year it may as well be included. I have just returned from my sociology class, where I discovered that we are going to be marked on a bell curve.

The bell curve is, in essence, one of the stupidest ideas known to mankind. The idea of having a pre-arranged grading scheme where you have to 'slot people in' just boggles my mind. My school is a newer school--we're actually celebrating the tenth anniversary of our charter this year--and has been under fire from many sources (most notably MacLean's Magazine) to become a 'real' school. Because of its newness, it is a relatively easy school to get into: the cutoff for most arts and science programs is usually about 65% or lower, and Nipissing as a name does not quite carry the same prestige as, say, Queen's, University of Toronto or McGill. I maintain that the education I am receiving here is certainly comparable to what I might have received elsewhere (I was accepted by Queen's, York and the University of Manitoba as well) and that the name on my degree does not necessarily indicate the quality of my education. However, the administration of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has decided that lowering marks (bell curving being part of this) will increase the competitive edge of our school--that if fewer people are receiving high marks (80% and above), it obviously means that the school is a tough one, that people are 'earning' the marks that they get.

As you can probably tell, I disagree with this practice. It was instituted midway through the last scholastic year, and as far as I can tell, I didn't really suffer too much from it, as I still came out with an 83.33% average overall. But I still have a fundamental problem with a system that operates like this--none of my marks in that class will in any way represent my actual abilities: they will represent what someone in an office thought the abilities of our class should be: "yeah, Sociology for educators...well, it's a required class for Orientation to Teaching, so we shuld give it a higher bell curve...let's try for 77%"


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