Are you uncommon?

August 13, 2009 at 9:28 pm 2 comments

We all have our quirks and idiosyncrasies.  This is what makes each of us who we are. It is also what can drive each of us batty, but that’s another discussion!

Over the past ten years, I have noticed one thing about myself that others think is really uncommon and they find me quite odd for it.  I do not like being given grades.  I know, many people would love to get an A by doing little work, or doing the minimum.  Not me.  I noticed this most profoundly in my MBA program.  One professor in particular didn’t give feedback on papers, just your grade and a small comment, like good job (B) or great job (A).  It got to the point in which we all realized that she had made her mind about each of us early on based on our participation, our personality, and our first paper submission. After that, you were branded. If you happened to be branded as an A student, this was how things would go for you in every class you took with her.

This really bothered me.  I know I am a big geek because I actually want to learn, but I also want real feedback. I want my professor to be genuine in their feedback about how I could have done better or could have enhanced my point better, etc. if that was the case. I find it hard to believe that there wasn’t something to comment on when in other classes, I was getting comments on my papers about these very things.  To be honest, once you get to grad school, grades really do become less important and it is more about the learning and the application. The application to your current job or for many, to a future job is paramount; not that getting all A’s isn’t a nice thing too!

But it gets worse in doctoral programs, or at least in some. I have seen more professors give grades than who give comments and are invested in challenging the student to go further and think deeper.  In the recent past, I submitted a paper in which I highlighted a date so that not only could I verify that I entered it correctly, but to make sure the source was updated if needed on the reference page.  This was not noticed or caught, nor graded down for not only not checking but not updating my source on the reference page. Based on the grading rubric, I should have lost points for this. I did not.  My paper received all of the possible points that it could.  I should be elated right?  Instead, I wonder if the professor even read my paper. Had he read any of them? I was getting 100’s on every paper I submitted. This seems impossible to me.  Although I have been given compliments on my academic writing ability, this seems too good to be true.

What I am left with is doubt about my papers.  Are they hitting the mark? Am I applying the principles and theories with relevant support?  But more than this, even more than being given a grade, I am disappointed in the professor. I have lost respect in him.  I no longer see him as an educator. And as an educator myself, this is a big blow.

Some of my friends know, based on a prior rant, that I have been questioning my doctoral program.  The goal in achieving this was to push myself to learn more, to research different paths based on some of my organizational questions, and to ensure my ability to teach at the university level (not just as I am now, but through retirement).  These goals have not changed, but my motivation to achieve them in the current setting sure has.  I wish I could be less uncommon and just push myself intrinsically to meet these goals and let the other stuff go. Or maybe I need to become even more uncommon and ignore the grades aspect (extrinsic motivation) and focus on my own goals.  Ahh, but that is just not me.


Entry filed under: Books, Miscellania, research, school, thoughts, well-being, Who is?, workplace. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Do you have a voice? It was a very good year …

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Joseph  |  August 20, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    You should never let a professor hit you hard. You just need to keep pushing yourself and realizing your potential. Grades are barely relevant, what should be important is that you can apply what you learned to your job or real life.

    Well that’s my take on it, study hard and stay motivated.

  • 2. anissastein  |  August 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks for the the support and encouragement 🙂 It’s just what I needed! Anissa


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