Failing students who are close to passing?

In summary: I lowered the grade from a C- to a B-, then the student would still be required to take Physics 1 but would likely not pass. In that case, the student would have to repeat the course, and the amount of work and money that would be wasted was not worth it if the student did not truly understand and could not pass the material.In summary, at most schools, a student who is borderline between a passing and failing grade is given a chance to make up work if they have failed, or to receive a failing grade if they have failed outright.
  • #36
Vanadium 50 said:
There was a professor where I was an undergraduate who would answer complaints about "it was just a sign error" with "make sign error, build bridge upside down. People and cars fall off. No credit."
I don't know how accurate of a comparison that is. When you build a bridge you will likely have the time to double-check your work. And there may be others that do so too. Not that it is unimportant, but maybe not necessarily a deal-breaker.
 
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  • #37
WWGD said:
I don't know how accurate of a comparison that is. When you build a bridge you will likely have the time to double-check your work. And there may be others that do so too. Not that it is unimportant, but maybe not necessarily a deal-breaker.
Although in the case of a bridge a small mistake may go missed completely and have serious consequences. Thus you need some way to ensure they are more careful to prevent such errors. I’d say if you are doing something inconsequential and easily fixed fine let them pass but ensure they learn from it such as if a elementary school student is say 1 point below passing you could offer extra credit but not in a later study level such as bridge building.

For example, I was a deplorable student in elementary school and struggled in every single aspect imaginable but I was always just shy of passing so I was offered extra credit and eventually caught up once I was given enough support and we found out why I was struggling.
Edit: I also stayed after school a lot to help catch me up, which is essential if you are behind like that
 
  • #38
Stephenk53 said:
Although in the case of a bridge a small mistake may go missed completely and have serious consequences. Thus you need some way to ensure they are more careful to prevent such errors. I’d say if you are doing something inconsequential and easily fixed fine let them pass but ensure they learn from it such as if a elementary school student is say 1 point below passing you could offer extra credit but not in a later study level such as bridge building.

For example, I was a deplorable student in elementary school and struggled in every single aspect imaginable but I was always just shy of passing so I was offered extra credit and eventually caught up once I was given enough support and we found out why I was struggling.
Edit: I also stayed after school a lot to help catch me up, which is essential if you are behind like that
Yes, though this is not a skill, it is a matter of some self-discipline which is easier to address than a lack of conceptual understanding. And they will have to double check, either themselves or a colleague and will likely run some tests before implementation. So, sure, it is not desirable, but this is a fence -sitter, since, both, there will likely be safeguards and it is relatively-easy to correct unless it is chronic and nit just a once, or few times mistake.
 
  • #39
WWGD said:
nit
Ah, OK. . . .:wink:

I finally figured iy out. . . just one key off, right ? . :oops:

.
 
  • #40
OCR said:
Ah, OK. . . .:wink:

I finally figured iy out. . . just one key off, right ? . :oops:

.
Nit rwally.
 
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  • #41
WWGD said:
Nit rwally.
Nit !

.
 
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  • #42
From school to my Ph.D I was always a quite mediocre student. A lot of the times, If I disliked the course I was okay with the bare minimum grade to pass. In retrospect, I should have failed thermodynamics after being 5% below the minimum grade.

Anyways, as a teacher, In the first course I taught I did "helped" some students to pass when they were at the border of the minimum grade but since last semester I decided to not do it anymore.
 
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  • #43
My experience (high school teacher for many years teaching sound and media relations): let them pass and give them drive for further interest in you subject. The feeling of failing will not boost their self esteem and they quit more easely. If they don't care it is most likely not their field for further understanding.esl
 
  • #44
itallcomestoenergy said:
My experience (high school teacher for many years teaching sound and media relations): let them pass and give them drive for further interest in you subject. The feeling of failing will not boost their self esteem and they quit more easely. If they don't care it is most likely not their field for further understanding.esl
This would not work at university level. When you pass a student, you are giving a stamp of approval that they have achieved the learning outcomes of the course. Allowing students that should not pass to pass would significantly affect the value of the degree, which would be unfair to the students actually passing the course. Add on top of that if the course is a course in the first years of a longer education, missing out on the basics will just mean that the students fail later.
 
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  • #45
itallcomestoenergy said:
let them pass and give them drive for further interest in you subject.

Do you feel the same way about medical school? What about driver's ed?
 
  • #46
Perhaps we might allow the student to expunge their record of haven taken this course up to and including the taking of the final exam.
 
  • #47
Vanadium 50 said:
Do you feel the same way about medical school? What about driver's ed?
I think the medical school examples are way off. From personal experience, as well as educational experience and the research based literature, the achieved level of pre-clinical medical skills are almost completely without validity in the following sense: if I take an average scoring pre-clinical student and one of the highest ranking pre-clinical students, after two years of clinical experience the difference between their practical clinical skills tends to be pretty minimal, with both of them very likely getting the same final grade.

Doing good pre-clinically in university usually just means that they can learn good from a book or a lecturer and they are perhaps good as scientists; it says absolutely nothing about their ability interpret findings correctly nor to make the correct decision based on their findings; in fact, relying too much on knowledge makes them slower, more wasteful of limited resources, more unfocused and therefore worse in practicing than the average student who does the necessary minimum and understands that they must be doubtful about the adequacy rest of their learned skills simply due to having lack of experience.

On the other hand, it is as laughable that someone can become a surgeon with shaky hands as it is that someone can become a physics professor at Caltech without any elementary algebra skills. Anyone who becomes a specialist, has a practical mastery that is unmatched at lower levels, i.e. anyone capable of becoming a surgeon is someone who does exactly what he should do according to the contemporary surgical rules. If a patient has a surgical complication it is often due to unforeseeable complications and the surgeon is usually completely fault free, except for failing to say beforehand that he wasn't well-enough equipped.

If all other medical factors can be reasonably accounted for adequately, the reason complications occur is then not due to the surgeon's fault but the inconsistency of the standard surgical rules of the operation with the particular case of this patient, i.e. the rules of the game are inadequate and do not cover the case for whatever reasons (rarity, lack of research, etc). This generally speaking makes mastery of clinical medicine of course a very different kind of endeavor than mastery of academic physics.
 
  • #48
Auto-Didact said:
I think the medical school examples are way off.

So are you arguing that we should pass students who fail medical school classes? If not, what exactly are you arguing?

What about driver's ed?
 
  • #49
itallcomestoenergy said:
My experience (high school teacher for many years teaching sound and media relations): let them pass and give them drive for further interest in your subject. The feeling of failing will not boost their self esteem, and they quit more easily. If they don't care, it is most likely not their field for further understanding.
My problem with this is that it often sets up the expectation that simply trying is enough, that results don't really matter. When these students get to college, they often are surprised to discover that they actually have to understand the material in order to pass.
 
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  • #50
Vanadium 50 said:
So are you arguing that we should pass students who fail medical school classes? If not, what exactly are you arguing?
No, I am saying that beyond some arbitrary minimum passing grade, most higher GPAs tend to be almost worthless to decide immediate or future clinical skills in practice, because these grades do not translate well to actual practical expertise. Moreover, that the higher the GPA away from the lower average, the more handicapped the novice clinician tends to be unless/until they are always skillfully able to disregard all irrelevant knowledge selectively. This is part of the skillset that cannot be learned outside actual experience, not even properly by merely observing many experts.
Vanadium 50 said:
What about driver's ed?
That is a whole other ball game, depending upon country, time period, etc. I would just say in most countries we should rank the different types of regular/subpar drivers in the following order of competence:
- 1 those who have practiced in a vehicle and studied traffic and road rules and reached a minimum passing grade, regardless of mastery
- 2 those who have mastered driving a vehicle outside real traffic
- 3 those who have mastered the theory of traffic and road rules
- 4 those who have done none of the above
 
  • #51
Auto-Didact said:
No, I am saying that beyond some arbitrary minimum passing grade, most higher GPAs tend to be almost worthless to decide immediate or future clinical skills in practice, because these grades do not translate well to actual practical expertise.

Which is not relevant to the question at hand. Nobody is saying grades are all there is. You're setting up a straw man.

Let me again ask you the question you are dodging: should pass students who fail medical school classes? And what about driver's ed - which includes a practical component in most (if not all) jurisdictions.
 
  • #52
apple_mango01 said:
It's very quite easy to fail students who has an F. But,however how do teachers deal with students who are close to passing? What if the student has a 67% as their grade? Do you bump their grade to a 70% or you let them make up work?
" 'Close' only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades;" maybe the humanities courses, or other "subjective/legal judgments."
 
  • #53
Vanadium 50 said:
Which is not relevant to the question at hand. Nobody is saying grades are all there is. You're setting up a straw man.
You misunderstand my point: the practical expertise is part of the latter grading, therefore a failed or dismal prior grade should not get in the way of getting an actual final grading. Failing rigourously those who do not meet the prior grade, makes it impossible for them to get the latter grade, which may be problematic in multiple ways, especially if this halting justification is severely lacking.

Unless it is absolutely straightforward that what comes next requires a level of mastery of the prior, I think there is in many cases an argument for leniency. This is not just some hypothetical argument: there is an actual epidemic going on in many fields where this has caused an 'invisible' unwanted selection effect, where those who are inherently better at some task are predominantly removed because they do not meet some irrelevant standard for getting to that task.

The reason for this is that the prior skills and latter skills usually have no correlation, or stronger an anti-correlation, causing the strict selection to remove those most talented in the latter, while retaining those more talented in the former; this when there is actually demand for the latter both by the profession and by society itself. The natural solution to this is to change the curriculum, which often occurs with a new school of thought or specialization coming about which has a different focus than the prior school.

This scenario occurred in late 20th century medicine in many European countries, after which curricula were changed in such a way to remove this selection bias which was based on getting certain grades within certain arbitrary timespans, before any other grades could be attempted; if the latter grades which are gotten are better than average, the prior ones may be retaken, sometimes indefinitely. Education research then demonstrates the pros and cons of these different education strategies and post-market surveillance measures differences in the quality of output, i.e. these decisions are made scientifically instead of based on tradition or convention.

Even stronger, actual research has shown that after the latter grades are taken successfully there is often an experience-based component causing the majority of those who pass these to automatically pass the retake of the prior grades while those who originally pass tend to score lower on the latter, implying the latter is in some sense logically almost a prerequisite for the former. Convincing people to change education strategies however is a nightmare, e.g. just look at ##\pi## versus ##\tau##.

A too strong focus on the prior short-term results over the long-term ones is therefore a decision which requires much more caution. Unluckily these decisions are often made by glorified administrators, who can moreover be corrupted by focusing on maximizing certain performance indicators in order to get government money, instead of education or progression of their field. Quality of education is a very elastic concept depending on just who you ask, e.g. just ask different experts about certain textbooks.

This argument is also not particular to medicine, but to any subject/school where there is no clear connection between the prior and latter subjects and yet the prior grades function as a gateway to the latter, often due to convention or tradition. There is a strong argument to make that this 'invisible' unwanted selection effect has also actually occurred in theoretical physics due to the 20th century professionalization of science by forecefully moving the major schools from Europe to America.
 
  • #54
Auto-Didact said:
Unless it is absolutely straightforward that what comes next requires a level of mastery of the prior, I think there is in many cases an argument for leniency.
When prior skills have a straightforward relation to latter skills, there tends to be some kind of superposition principle at play in the structure of the skill. This is more often true in simple conventional basic (undergraduate) mathematics, than it is in almost all other subjects.

In other words, for latter skills where there is no clearly demonstrable relation with prior skills, neither as a necessity nor due to contingency, one should be very cautious of very strictly maintaining a simple sequential gateway structure of a curriculum simply because that educational structure already happens to exist.
 
  • #55
In all that windbaggage, I don't see anything responsive. Should we pass students who fail medical school classes? What about driver's ed?
 
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  • #56
Vanadium 50 said:
In all that windbaggage, I don't see anything responsive. Should we pass students who fail medical school classes?
There was a response: some curricula already do so to some degree by using a modified testing procedure across multiple years as I described, instead of the traditional testing method. Mastery achieved in this manner is not less than the traditional method, but compared to the standard method this method has different strengths (higher knowledge specificity, faster attainment of clinical competence) and weaknesses (higher financial costs, more teacher engagement, more student engagement).

Actually, the standard method has hidden costs as well e.g. a proven higher degree of burnout rates and related psychological trauma among young to middle aged physicians, as well as higher national health costs due to these physicians routinely ordering clinically irrelevant tests due to their unspecific knowledge gained early on, because their education - based on outdated teaching methods - and degrees they managed to get with flying colours focussed too much on idealized irrelevant factors making most of them woefully ill-prepared for the actual demands of practice.
 
  • #57
Vanadium 50 said:
Do you feel the same way about medical school? What about driver's ed?
The student might have knowledge within part of the subject which make the person pass. A good teacher might be able to read between the lines. Him/her has great knowledge about parts of the subject, but of course a difficult situation.
 
  • #58
vela said:
My problem with this is that it often sets up the expectation that simply trying is enough, that results don't really matter. When these students get to college, they often are surprised to discover that they actually have to understand the material in order to pass.
It depends on the subject and years of schooling
 
  • #59
Orodruin said:
This would not work at university level. When you pass a student, you are giving a stamp of approval that they have achieved the learning outcomes of the course. Allowing students that should not pass to pass would significantly affect the value of the degree, which would be unfair to the students actually passing the course. Add on top of that if the course is a course in the first years of a longer education, missing out on the basics will just mean that the students fail later.
Thats why we have grades!
 
  • #60
itallcomestoenergy said:
A good teacher might be able to read between the lines.
I strongly disagree, this is a dangerous thing to do and I would argue that a good teacher will not do this. When a student takes an exam, the teacher should not have to read between the lines to interpret the student's solutions. This risks introducing a bias in favour of passing students that actually did not understand. I make it very clear to my students that they should explain their reasoning in their solutions because there is no other way that I can unambiguously determine that they have actually understood.

The exam is a test of the student's knowledge and it is up to the student to unambiguously show that this knowledge is sufficient for a passing grade.
 
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  • #61
itallcomestoenergy said:
Thats why we have grades!
This is just uninformed. The main value of the degree comes from the passing requirements.
 
  • #62
Orodruin said:
I strongly disagree, this is a dangerous thing to do and I would argue that a good teacher will not do this. When a student takes an exam, the teacher should not have to read between the lines to interpret the student's solutions. This risks introducing a bias in favour of passing students that actually did not understand. I make it very clear to my students that they should explain their reasoning in their solutions because there is no other way that I can unambiguously determine that they have actually understood.

The exam is a test of the student's knowledge and it is up to the student to unambiguously show that this knowledge is sufficient for a passing grade.
A good teacher also knows about psychology. And remember; I've been nothing more than a high school teacher giving drive for further education. If you want to talk about curriculum and sound, I am more than willing to do that. Is the exam for example math based, with fixed answers, or is the exam a project based situation. In my subjects there are 'many ways to Rome'.
 
  • #63
Orodruin said:
This is just uninformed. The main value of the degree comes from the passing requirements.
Again; project based vs fixed answers.
 
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  • #64
itallcomestoenergy said:
It depends on the subject and years of schooling
I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. It's so vague it's meaningless.
 
  • #65
vela said:
I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. It's so vague it's meaningless.
How old is the student? What kind of subject? Whats the students further education plan? Approach to the exam?

As I mentioned in this thread; fixed based answers are easy to put grades on. Easy math/% of correct answers
 
  • #66
vela said:
I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. It's so vague it's meaningless.
Isnt this a fourm? Let people talk before you, as a education adviser, share meaningless interruptions. If you want to know what I mean, ask a question and not a statement
 
  • #67
Auto-Didact said:
Unless it is absolutely straightforward that what comes next requires a level of mastery of the prior, I think there is in many cases an argument for leniency.
Your point raises the question of whether this sort of structural problem with the curriculum should be addressed by individual instructors when assigning grades. I think this topic would have to be spun off into a separate thread.
 
  • #68
itallcomestoenergy said:
How old is the student? What kind of subject? Whats the students further education plan? Approach to the exam?

As I mentioned in this thread; fixed based answers are easy to put grades on. Easy math/% of correct answers
I think most of us here are assuming that the class is designed with assessment methods that are appropriate for the students' age and for the subject. The question is, are you going to ignore what these assessments tell you and pass the student who didn't meet the requirements of the course, requirements that you set?

If your argument is that the assessments leave significant wiggle room, then you're just sidestepping the point of the original post. If there's enough wiggle room, the student arguably passed passed the course, and there's really no issue here.
 
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  • #69
apple_mango01 said:
It's very quite easy to fail students who has an F. But,however how do teachers deal with students who are close to passing? What if the student has a 67% as their grade? Do you bump their grade to a 70% or you let them make up work?
Which way depends on some things. Is course prerequisite for something else? If so what, and how does course relate? Is course grading done on a strict competence pre-assigned grading scale? If so, then not much room for bending a grade one way or the other. Teacher or professor needs to decide if some leniency is tolerable or not. There are sometimes other ways to give certain kinds of students more chances - depends on the conditions there.
 

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