Are grading curves fair? - Macleans.ca

Are grading curves fair?

Our student panel weighs in

by

At the centre of the dispute between math professor Mikhail Kovalyov and the University of Alberta is the question of grading curves. Kovalyov’s course average was lowered by department administrators supposedly because he had awarded too many Bs compared to Cs and Ds, touching off a battle that ultimately resulted in the administration asking him to resign.

The case is unique because Kovalyov actively encouraged his students to appeal their grades. It also highlights the fact that how students are assessed can be controversial.

Achieving target class averages often involves employing a mathematical grading curve to ensure that in each class their are the predetermined number of As, Cs, and Fs awarded. Results can be confusing. If an overwhelming number of students score well on an exam, even those with a mark in the high 80s could see their final grade curved down to a B. Similarly, if a disproportionate number of students score very low, a pass for the exam could be set at 35 per cent.

We asked our student panel whether they thought grading curves are fair. Answers are posted below, as well as on our front page. As with previous weeks, all videos are archived on our You Tube Channel.