Friday, December 14, 2012

Grading Personal Responsibility. From InsideHigherEd.

After my initial reaction (which was along the lines of "so we're going to include citizenship evaluations on transcripts now, like in elementary school?"), I wondered how many CM'ers would go along with this if it meant institutional support for enforcing deadlines and attendance requirements? When I was an adjunct, I would have put on a chicken suit and advertised "Cash 4 Gold" if it meant admin would back me up on my deadline requirements.

- OldTime Nester


Grading Personal Responsibility

Grades earned by many students at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College will soon factor in “soft skills,” such as whether they show up for class on time or work well in groups. And next year the college will issue workplace readiness certificates alongside conventional credentials to recognize those skills.

Located in Asheville, N.C., A-B Tech, as it is commonly known, has developed a template that helps faculty members determine how to incorporate eight primary workplace expectations into grading, including personal responsibility, interdependence and emotional intelligence. Soft skills should count for 8 to 10 percent of grades in courses that adopt those guidelines, college officials said.

“We’re teaching our students to walk the walk,” said Jean B. Finley, an instructor of business computer technologies.



  1. Hey, I'm all for it. Abandoning in loco parentis was a big mistake from the '60s, along with anonymous student evaluations of faculty and grade inflation, that began the long slide that put higher education in the sorry state it's in today. What worries me is that it's just a matter of time before some snowflake sues A-B Tech over this.

    1. Like many educational fads, this one might come and go, fading into obscurity. The place I used to teach at had students when I started. Then, about 20 years ago, it had "customers". A few years after that, those customers became "learners".

      The fact is that in the time since I finished my B. Sc. 35 years ago, educational administrators have been finding ways of not having to do their jobs. This might just be another such tactic.

  2. I imagine quite a number of businesses would be perfectly happy with a grade indicating how likely an individual was to show up on time.

  3. I hate the idea of having to try to take account of odd concepts such as interdependence and emotional intelligence. Can they be graded by anything other than vague impressions, opening up the assessment to endless appeals? Telling me to include these things also, I suspect, trespasses on my academic freedom. Heck, clearly my university doesn't require professors to evaluate students' control over basic English (otherwise a good many students would not be passing their classes). Nonsense....

  4. Kudos to A-B Tech! I envy vocational programs that can grade on this basis and wish we liberal-arts types could too.

    My grandfather used to say that you could always tell a "Katie Gibbs graduate" (from the Katherine Gibbs secretarial school) because they dressed appropriately, arrived before "on time," and didn't chew gum, in addition to their professional-level typing, spelling, and grammar skills. (This was back when being a secretary was viewed as a respectable career, and smart women had few other choices.) Following the dress and behavior codes was required of all students. You could flunk out. There was a long waiting list to get in (and pay tuition for the privilege of not being considered "special") because employers respected the program and preferred its graduates.

    And I know of a community college cosmetology program today where the students are required to wear uniforms and bring their own haircutting equipment, which is regularly inspected for cleanliness and organization. You can flunk out. There is a long waiting list to get in (and pay for the uniforms and equipment and the privilege of not being considered "special") because the graduates work in the best salons.

    Let's hope the "emotional intelligence" expectation includes appropriate humility and willingness to apply constructive criticism after not meeting high standards. (Isn't that our main complaint here at CM?)

  5. While I recognize the importance of the "soft skills" listed, I can't imagine, especially at this point in the semester, generating -- and wrangling with students over -- yet another set of grades. With a few rare exceptions, the students who do well in my class are also reasonably prompt and organized, and have shown some ability to do group work (which I do require). In a college/university curriculum that expects an appropriate amount of autonomy from its students, I think that's usually the case, and may just have to do.


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