Grading is such an important issue in India, especially at highly competitive places like IITs. Talking more specifically about IITK, we will hear both sides of the story. Some appreciate grading, while for others it's not more than a civilized crime against student community.
My view- grading is important and a must have.
- In any society, you need quantification of excellence/performance. Grading provides just that. What's the way to find out your academic performance for a company which wants to recruit you? You definitely won't submit "character certificates" from 40 different professors!!
- I don't buy the argument that western society (specifically, american) pays less heed to grading. Grade is the measuring yardstick during admissions to US colleges. US society is afterall highly competitive too.
- Why fear from grading? Your performance will be gauged throughout your career. It's just a small beginning. Face the reality.
Fault lies in not the grading, but the way grading is done. Exams are given much more importance than practicals/homework/assignments. A few points:
- In IITK, the usual marks distribution for a course is: Examinations (end sem, midsems)- 80%, homework/assignments/attendance- rest 20.It boils down to performing in 5 hours of examination, rather than throughout the semester.
- Short cut for students- definitely, mug up just before the exams and you are through. It all depends on your ability to collect class notes, mugging the "right" things, memorization skills, and if you lack any of them, your guts to cheat :)
- Short-cut for instructors: This grading policy is usually an easy way out for instructors. They don't have to grade assignments, take pains to solve assignments, and more importantly, catch copying in the assignments. Professors! don't blame us only, you are equally at guilt.
- Learning curve is also low in exam based grading. To learn, you must ACT. Assignments are the only way students can really act. Perhaps, this is the reason of the famous saying- "Never depend upon an IIT Electrical engineer to fix up your wiring problems". They will keep applying Ampere's law, circuit law, etc. None applies in any practical situation :)
- This is the reason US schools are much ahead. Emphasis is not on exams, but practicals, projects, assignments etc.
repeated examinations, not grading answer books, poor presentation skills, etc. In one course
his semester, professor didn't have classes for one full month, and no make up too !! He didn't check mid sem copies (rumours were that he had lost those). His final words to me were- "I have more important work to do than give Fs". Amazing. Did he have a right to give any F in that course?
Professors, think and act soon!!