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My professor curves grades?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Evisju7, Sep 6, 2014.

  1. Evisju7

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    Well, not curves.. but this:

    Averages top 5 class grades and takes everyone's grade as a percentage of those.

    I was so worried because I think I messed up on our first test. (It was only 7 questions and I changed my answer for one.. which I know I got wrong)

    But, I'm reading now that his tests ARE hard. I'm not crazy, that was a tough test with little room for error. People say they didn't do great on his tests but still made an A in the class.

    How do curves, or similar, effect your grade? I've never had a professor curve grades
     
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  3. IslandStyle808

    IslandStyle808 Akuma residency or bust!
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    There are variations of curves that I have seen in academia. The first one I ever encountered was a normalization curve (similar to what you are talking about) where the highest grade is moved to 100% and all grades follow the same percentage increase. The second one, the most common one, is where the average of the class is moved to where the professor wants it to be. So if the class average is 60%, and the professor wants a 70% class average, then he or she will move up the class average by 10%.
     
  4. circulus vitios

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    My classes were "never" curved.

    Organic chemistry was the most obvious example of curving. Our class average for o-chem I final was in the mid 30s. Miraculously, the majority of the class passed.
     
  5. Evisju7

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    I think the professor needs to adjust his/her teaching method. That must have been hell!
     
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  6. DPTcoasral

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    My ochem experience was similar. For orgo 1, I was able to go into the final with a 130 curved or something ridiculous as I was able to score an uncurved A on every exam. This came in handy as I had the flu on the day of the final. Basically just wrote my name on the paper and walked out, he knew I was sick and gave me a fist bump hah.
     
  7. circulus vitios

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    Yeah. Apparently he changed his teaching style the following year, in that he actually taught and did problems rather than regurgitate from Powerpoint slides.
     
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  8. looncat

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    That curve is actually the most lenient, most of my pre-req classes were curved and many of those were done with a bell curve, the whole "top 15% of class gets A's next 20% get B's" etc., which I think is way worse since you can have an A in the class percentage wise but not get an A in your final grade. The curving you're talking about would never harm you, it can only help you.
     
  9. mimelim

    mimelim Vascular Surgery
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    Its actually a good sign if the mean is between 40-60% and people are in a somewhat normalized distribution. Good way to separate out who is actually getting it and who isn't. Not to comment on teaching styles or poor teaching in general. But as far as test design strategies, I'm a fan of a mean of 50, lowest grade is a 3%, highest is 97%.
     
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  10. Evisju7

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    The method is great because, like looncat said, it can only help.
    But I'm wondering how many people are going to get near 100%.. It's a big class. I wonder if this is actually going to help my grade.
     
  11. optimistic3

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    I think all of my science classes were curved somehow. Every professor does it differently. Some do a classic bell curve, some do some types of exam grade replacement or dropping, some do a set curve (85% = A, 70% = B, etc.)...there are probably more ways that I'm not remembering right now. I was told that I was absurd by one professor for using the word "curve" when he did a set grade thing like the 85% = A or whatever that would be called. I think that term usually implies setting the class average to a 75% or so and then looking at the standard deviations.

    Anyway I always wondered what the point of having a lot of students do "poorly" but then curving at the end. Why not make tests that students can pass? For example my pchem 2 class exam averages were in the 30s and 40s (out of 100). My grades were always right around average and I ended up with a B in the class. It just makes for an anxious semester because with the curve (I think that professor did a bell curve), your grade depends on your classmates' grade. But then again, what do I know? I'm not an expert by any means.
     
  12. Evisju7

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    Agreed. I would much rather feel like I'm understanding each section of my class than doing mediocre and then getting some weird advantage.
     
  13. knv2u

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    My school occasionally had downward curves as well although usually the class average was low enough on its own.
     
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  14. mimelim

    mimelim Vascular Surgery
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    If the material is hard, it is hard. 'passing' grades are arbitrary. You have been cultured to accept A/B/C/D being 90+/80+/70+/60+. It all depends on the purpose of the grading. If you are talking about a certification, then an absolute scale is what you want. You want to verify that someone knows XYZ or can perform ABC and as long as they have a certain score, then it is safe to say they know that material. High end science, especially in the hard sciences is far more nebulous. For most professors the question is do you understand the material at hand and more relevant, how well do you understand it relative to others (since the difficulty and the scale of tests is going to be arbitrary). It is all about differentiating students, especially in subjects where there is more critical thinking/problem solving than rote memorization.
     
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  15. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist
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    Curves can't "hurt" a person. If you got a 93% but got a B+, then it's likely the test was far too easy. The A=90+, B=80+, C=70+ is just a standard that we're used to from high school. Yes, there are some professors who still use it, but I don't understand when people complain that curves will hurt them unless the professor literally gave you a different test from the rest of the class but still curved your score with their score.
     
  16. looncat

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    No, I totally get it, I wasn't complaining so much as letting OP (who seemed worried) know that their curve isn't going to hurt them.
     
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