Grading Degrades Performance LO17489

Richard Karash (
Sun, 22 Mar 1998 05:42:33 -0500

Replying to LO17449 --

I'll tell you a personal story about grading... And, this is related
to evals in the workplace.

It was very early... In elementary school. I remember it as one of the
first times that all of us kids were to write a paragraph. I was very
interested in airplanes and had gobbled up all that I could read at the
time, and tried many items that I couldn't read.

My paragraph explained the different kinds of flying machines... I can
still remember most of it: "An airplane flies by it's propeller. A
helicopter flies by it's rotor blades on top. An ornithopter flies by
flapping it's wings. A gyrocopter flies by... An autogyro..."

I was very proud of my paragraph!

(Yes, ornithopter is a real word. There are no practical airplanes that
fly by flapping the wings, but that didn't stop me.)

A few days later, it came back from the teacher. With a big fat "F" in the
top right corner! I remember waiting in line to ask the teacher. "How come
an F?" She replied, "Because you copied it." I protested, but there was no
protesting. I just turned away...

Now at this point, the story could go in different directions. I was a
pretty nervy kid... I knew she was wrong, I was right. It actually was an
important lesson... Just because so-and-so is an authority figure doesn't
mean they are *right*! I went on writing paragraphs about airplanes and
never had any problem of over-respect for authority figures after that. I
was lucky...

I worry that the same story went the other way for many kids. That they
were devastated or re-directed the wrong way by incorrect negative evals.
My early "F" was a clear case, but grading/eval questions are usually much
more subtle.

My conclusion: Grades and Evals aren't absolute... They are just one
person's opinion. Or one measure. Listen to them, put them in context with
other inputs. Try to be self-reflective, self-aware and responsible. But,
these aren't absolute.

Now, this explanation might be helpful to adults. But, until kids are
mature enough to understand this... But, What about adults? Don't we have
work to do to insure that adults in the workplace understand this?

-- Rick


Richard Karash <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>