Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Difference in Grading

I've been a bit absent lately from this blog because I've been working on some very time-consuming and challenging assignments.

This post will be mostly a whine about assignments.

I am pretty sure I noted this before, but again, grading here is not the same as in the US. I believe it's more difficult.

The US has the GPA system largely based on 4, but Australia seems to go with the scale of 7. Interestingly, while in the US it's perfectly reasonable for a student to achieve a 4.0 GPA across the board, in Australia a 7 is essentially how they fill up mental health hospitals with youth.

But here's my issue: the "7" is achieved for any grade over an 85%! That means, in American terms, it's discouragingly difficult to achieve anything above an American B (or a 3.3).

Kylie explained it to me like this: A 4 is passing, and is fine (in the US, that is a D). A 5 is pretty good (a low-end C), and a 6 is fantastic (a low-end B IS FANTASTIC). She told me that attaining a 6 is basically the best most can hope for without putting oneself in mortal peril.

This blows my mind. I don't understand the concept of having an un-achievable grade for students at university. I mean, if only a handful of students in the entire history of the academic system can achieve a 7 status, then what's the point? Are basically a 7 only reasonably attainable for child geniuses and the professors teaching the class themselves? Why set students up for not being awesome?

Kylie tried to defend the system by mentioning the "Tall Poppy Syndrome" (I have never heard of this before in my life, but it's a thing). The syndrome basically expresses people who are of genuine merit exhibiting signs of awesomeness...and that others resent them for this said awesomeness. Someone complained to me that Americans award and celebrate their achievements too much (thus exhibiting signs of this syndrome) and are always looking for the best of the best, while Australians (as a whole) appreciate leveling the playing field so and that everyone is on par with each other at a level of normalcy. Or, as I view it, mediocrity.

I am not happy about this. I don't even think I have worked this hard before on assignments for a degree, or submitted such great work on my end... and I know I have never felt this passionate about my studies before. I have been working my ass off (literally and metaphorically) on these assignments, and I have yet to get awesome grades. Not getting commendable grades on my (extremely) hard work is very discouraging.

I wrote to one professor to ask him how I could have improved on my assignment, as I was not happy with the grade I received on this paper. He wrote back to me that I did very well, complimented me, and didn't see what the big deal was (I might be paraphrasing the last bit there).

The big deal for me is that I didn't achieve a 7 for doing "very well".

I was hoping to do awesomely in this program, as I'm so passionate and dedicated...but it seems that despite my efforts, I may not be good enough for this elusive 7. I just submitted a very significant (and particularly painful) report over the weekend, and though my team worked hours and days on end putting it together for a great grade, I'm just hoping we got higher than a "Pass" at this point.

On a more positive note.

I had a funny experience with a classmate from last week. A few of us went to get some lunch while sweating bullets over assignments. We ended up at a campus cafe, and Bangladeshi Mahmud was discussing with me ordering some nacho plates to share with the table. Zambian Likando listened to us as we discussed the merits of nachos.

You might see where this is going, if you're interested in jokes that make you groan.

I paused and asked Mahmud, "Hey, what do you call cheese that isn't yours?"

Mahmud looked at me for a second, perplexed.

"Well, in Bangladesh, we don't really have cheese....so I guess all cheese isn't mine..."

"No...no...Mahmud...it's a joke. What do you call cheese that isn't yours??"

".....Well....India has cheese....so maybe Pritha's cheese? Or American cheese?...."

"Mahmud.....no...the answer is 'NACHO CHEESE'."

"....ooohh...is that not my cheese?"

"No. Nacho cheese sounds like 'not your cheese. Nevermind."

Likando started to give out a low laugh that originated from the very core of his being.

1 comment:

Betty A said...

Just read this blog, and agree 300% about no matter how hard you work, you will not get a "b" even. If you do, well done!! but its not likely. It is discouraging for me as well... I tell myself that it is not about the grade and its about how much I learnt and integrity of my work!, and that gives me some relief but then when i see the grade back, I get discourage all over again. hmmm wonder if its just American style users that feel dissapointed, I havent heard anybody complain this much other than you and me! haha. All I can say is: keep up the good work!!!! xx