Basing Grades In College Mainly On Effort Instead Of ‘Academic Quality’?

Benedict College has fired two professors who refused to go along with a policy that says freshmen are awarded 60 percent of their grades based on effort and the rest on their work’s academic quality.

Benedict President David Swinton says the Success Equals Effort policy gives struggling freshmen a chance to adapt to college academics. He expects students to improve – the formula drops to 50-50 in the sophomore year and isn’t used in the junior or senior year. But he says he’s “interested in where they are at when they graduate, not where they are when they get here.”

Students “have to get an A in effort to guarantee that if they fail the subject matter, they can get the minimum passing grade,” Swinton said. “I don’t think that’s a bad thing.”

Science professors Milwood Motley and Larry Williams defied that policy and Swinton dismissed them. Neither had tenure, which could have protected them from firing.

Motley, a veteran five years at Benedict, said he didn’t like concept from the beginning but went along with it grudgingly. Then he faced an academic dilemma of passing a student he thought had not learned course material. In his case, giving a C to a student with a high exam score of 40 percent was too much.

“There comes a time when you have to say this is wrong,” he said.

…Founded in 1870 to educate freed slaves, the college has been a haven for students who must overcome barriers to obtain higher education. The school’s open admissions policy means many students arrive with poor study habits and weak high school records, Swinton said.”

There’s so much wrong with this sort of thinking that I don’t even know where to begin.

First of all, any college where you can get a passing grade just by showing up & “making an effort” is a total joke as illustrated by the fact that you have professors being forced to give “a C to a student with a high exam score of 40 percent”.

You could have kids who think that we teamed up with the British to free ourselves from the Spanish in the Civil War of 1492 passing history class because they put in a “good effort”.

Oh — but it doesn’t matter because we should be “interested in where they are at when they graduate, not where they are when they get here”. That sounds good in theory, until you realize that the clown running Benedict College defines “when they get here” as the first TWO YEARS of college; then you start to realize how nuts this whole concept actually is.

“But Hawkins, they have to buckle down when they become a junior!” Well, what about the two years of “stupid” they’re allowed to go through before they come a junior? I mean the kid who scored a 40 in that science class isn’t going to somehow magically learn science in his junior year, right?

Bottom line: College kids need to be challenged and there’s really no way you challenge kids to learn when they know that 50%-60% of their grade comes from “effort”. Furthermore, in the long run, effort in and of itself, doesn’t mean very much. To hammer home that point, let me paraphrase a line Sean Connery said, in “The Rock”…

“Losers always whine about how much effort they put in. Winners go home and screw the prom queen.”

Hat tip to Joanne Jacobs for finding this story.

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