Universities should focus less on grades

The article âÄúU faculty: efficiency canâÄôt be quantifiedâÄù in the Oct. 10 Minnesota Daily brought up controversial methods of measuring faculty productivity. I think standards based on salary and tuition revenue are âÄúanti-intellectualâÄù and create more problems than solutions.

Another major issue is the strong focus on a studentâÄôs grade in a course rather than valuing what the student is actually learning. I also consider this âÄúanti-intellectual.âÄù

An appalling number of students take easier courses, even if they arenâÄôt interested in the topic, simply for the good grade on their transcript. These students often have a strong sense of entitlement about how courses should be taught, feeling that the whole point is to learn just enough to get a good grade.

When a professor gives a broader understanding of a subject during class, these students tend to dismiss it disrespectfully. Such students only want to hear what will be on the test in order to study the bare minimum and pass the exams. I consider this approach to education a form of cheating.

Today, universities encourage this behavior by projecting the attitude that education is all about grades. Students feel grades are the bottom line and grades are the only reason to come to college.

For a couple of decades, from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s, the University of Minnesota did not record failing grades on transcripts. If a student failed a course, no record that the student had ever registered for it appeared on the transcript. 

I think a similar system would remove the incentive to engage in this new form of cheating. Many students focus only on getting points for that final grade.

Changing the view on grades would help students appreciate their education more and focus on learning rather than the final grade.


Michael Hardy

Daily reader