Materials Girl: The end product

Mar 27, 2019
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Posted on behalf of Materials Girl

The fall quarter of my junior year is, at last, over! The last exam has been taken, and the last paper has been written last-minute and emailed in before the deadline. So far, so good, at least in terms of the final scores currently available online… Apart from the generic fact that they are exams, one major aspect of finals is particularly distressing: they generally count from 20 to 60% of overall class grades. We can slave away and perform magnificently for over ten weeks, then have everything come tumbling down in one fell swoop – all due to poor performance on a final. Granted, if we’ve done well before, we should be able to continue the trend into the last stretch of the term, but life’s anomalies can come around anytime.

However, what choice is there? Deep, individual conversations and telepathy aside, there is no fair way for professors to probe the minds of their students, and from there assign those fatal, permanent marks known as grades. So, everything comes full circle. It’s not always fair to those involved, but the system has been set and would be different – ideally – were there a better method.

The ultimate goal should be for us to learn the material presented and to prepare for the world outside our relatively safe and secure classrooms, regardless of grades. Perhaps more focus should be put on ensuring that professors have both the ability and drive to teach properly, before being let loose in the classroom. Selecting students worthy of good institutions is a whole other issue…


Stu Cantrill

Chief Editor, Nature Chemistry, Springer Nature

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