Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Are You Normal

Around here there are two schools of thought for grading calculus classes: straight percentages or curving the grades. I favor the former with each letter grade representing ten percentage points. In my class, 90%+ is an A, at least 80% but less than 90% is a B, etc.

I had been arguing with a colleague about which system is better, mine (percentages) or his (curve). The way he assigns grades is to set the mean to the boundary between B and C and then to allow one letter grade per standard deviation. We have been arguing about this all semester. I am convinced that my way is better.

This argument might come to an end: In my class the mean is 79.52% and the standard deviation is 9.98.

Can you imagine the looks of confusion if I told my students that if I curved their grades, that they'd be pretty much the same?