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grade inflation worse than I realized

 
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:29 pm    Post subject: grade inflation worse than I realized Reply with quote

I teach a business class at the private uni with the top business school in my town. The class is mandatory for all majors.

I got panned by students in their upward feedback for being such a harsh grader. Being rehired is 100% dependent on scoring high on student upward feedback.

I was the hardest grader they have ever had in the university. My average grade was a B+ and they are used to having A- (at worst) be the average grade.

if professors only keep their jobs by giving great grades, guess what they give in this department? They hand out A's as though they were candy. One student couldn't get over that I gave him an A-. It was the lowest grade he had received.

I knew it would be a culture shock for them but I was determined not to just hand out A's. The lowest grade I gave was a B- and the lowest on any assignment was a C- in spite of it being work that would have been at best a D when I was at university. I even gave one team of students a B+ on a presentation where they only did 1/5th of the work and they flipped because it was the lowest grade they received.

I felt like a sell out as it was grading so easy and I won't grade any easier. In fact, I warned them I was going the grade them harder as the semester went on.

So, did I just have bad luck and land in a particularly grade inflated school or is this the norm?

Mexicans I have spoken with about this issue say grade inflation is a major problem holding Mexico back because students graduate with minimal knowledge of whatever it was they "studied."
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1129
Location: 1748'N 9746'W

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:03 am    Post subject: Re: grade inflation worse than I realized Reply with quote

boomerexpat wrote:


So, did I just have bad luck and land in a particularly grade inflated school or is this the norm?

Mexicans I have spoken with about this issue say grade inflation is a major problem holding Mexico back because students graduate with minimal knowledge of whatever it was they "studied."


It's normal at any place where they students are paying to go there. Most private educational institutions in Mexico are for-profit, that makes the students paying customers and as you know, the customer is always right. There are very few private "non-profit foundation" universities in Mexico. I don't know where you are working, but it's most likely more like The University of Phoenix or Devry than it is like Stanford or Harvard.

I work at a public university and students fail left and right.
The problem of working at a public university is since the students don't pay--they might not have the funds to pay you. And at most places you have unions to deal with.
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MotherF,

thanks for the prompt reply. Unfortunately, you comments seem right on the peso.

At my private uni, it isn't a matter of passing or failing students. It is just a matter of whether you are going to give them an A-, A or A+ or if you are going to be a hard ass and give them a B+.

I was just talking with a Mexican doctor tonight who told me that students feel that as much as daddy is paying to send them to school they expect nothing less at a university than an A.

He told me that "Mexico has a culture of mediocrity and if you cheat and get an A that is considered better than if you work hard and get an A." He went on to say that many of the kids see their dad having built his business (which they will work at) by corruption and it just rubs off on them as the way things are done. He also said that things have gotten worse, not better in the last 10 years or so with grade inflation.

I have to admit this makes me lose all interest in teaching at a private uni here. I can't see myself handing out A's irrespective of the quality of work.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1129
Location: 1748'N 9746'W

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The university where I'm currently on a leave of abscense from does push the students for excellence.
There is a whole host of other problems of course, it's by no means a perfect institution. But you might want to look into it.
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MotherF wrote:
The university where I'm currently on a leave of abscense from does push the students for excellence.
There is a whole host of other problems of course, it's by no means a perfect institution. But you might want to look into it.


MotherF, thanks again. I just sent you a PM
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inotu-unotme



Joined: 26 May 2013
Posts: 172

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the past I was at one of the most expensive private schools in my area for children. I was shocked by the director calling me into her office for giving the students to low of a grade. When I was first hired I really thought it was to teach the students something. But, no. I don't think I ever took to that system. The students came from money wearing all their gold jewelry, texting on their new i-phones and playing on i-pads. They hardly paid attention in class.

I taught at a different private school in Mexico later. It was smaller and the kids weren't from as much money. But, they were still from money. I liked it better. I taught children and adults. I was under the false impression it would be different. BUT, it was not. When it came time for grading the director of the school handed my grades back to me and said they were to low. One woman could not even speak English but the director wanted her to have this certificate thing that says she has completed ........ many English classes. SHE COULD NOT SPEAK ANY ENGLISH. I finally just asked the director what grade she wanted me to give the students that would make her happy. I get caught between trying to do the right thing and needing a paycheck.

I will say this though... the longer it takes to take to the system your job may not be safe.
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

inotu-unotme wrote:

I will say this though... the longer it takes to take to the system your job may not be safe.


I don't think my job is safe. It is 100% percent based on student upward feedback and I doubt I will give high enough grades to get rated highly.

However, I don't think I really care at this point.

I guess I can't quite see the point of teaching if students don't have to learn anything to get an A. I could just hang out in my class teaching them card tricks and showing porn and, if I got rated high enough, I'm back.

It just seems demoralizing at the university level to have to tell a student: "wonderful! You got your name right. I guess you get an A too!"

Probably what I most feel about the situation right now is that if I'm going to sell my soul, I'm going to hold out for a lot higher price than what I'm making at this uni.
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inotu-unotme



Joined: 26 May 2013
Posts: 172

PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

boomerexpat wrote:
inotu-unotme wrote:

I will say this though... the longer it takes to take to the system your job may not be safe.


I don't think my job is safe. It is 100% percent based on student upward feedback and I doubt I will give high enough grades to get rated highly.

However, I don't think I really care at this point.

I guess I can't quite see the point of teaching if students don't have to learn anything to get an A. I could just hang out in my class teaching them card tricks and showing porn and, if I got rated high enough, I'm back.

It just seems demoralizing at the university level to have to tell a student: "wonderful! You got your name right. I guess you get an A too!"

Probably what I most feel about the situation right now is that if I'm going to sell my soul, I'm going to hold out for a lot higher price than what I'm making at this uni.


This is unfortunate...

I have found through trail and error that I do enjoy teaching children in a certain age group. I actually felt joy when one of them formed a complete sentence for me.

With working abroad I imagine teaching is much different than in the United States. I will never know first hand. Over time I have learned to find joy in the service I provide. It took me awhile, but I have found it. I do not enjoy teaching 12 years on up through adults so I try to stay away from that. Maybe if there is something in the job that is great it may be possible to focus on that aspect. Maybe it would be possible to do what they wish you to do with the grades because your focusing more on the positive? Maybe? I know its all about the bottom line which is money. A couple of my university professors filled me in on the politics of their positions. I was slightly surprised about so many politics in a part time university teaching position. I really do think every job has its good and bad points. I to used to feel the same as you. But, having to pay rent every month drives me to go with the flow. I hope you find a place of calmness and happiness in a position.
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

inotu-unotme,

I'm glad you found something you enjoy and thanks for wishing me well. I can definitely see making the most of a job when you have rent to pay. I think we have all been there at one time or another.

I would definitely be more concerned about going along with the program if I was younger. I'm 60 and have had my main career. I toiled for years in corporate America dealing with a-holes, corporate politics and giant egos.

Teaching has been a bucket list activity for me and it is something I've been passionate about especially since I had so many miserable teachers when I was young. I've had a few great teachers and they really inspired me.

It is just that if I'm in a situation where only tuition matters and students feel they don't have to learn to get an A, it sucks much of the joy out of it for me.

I think I'm a better fit, or so it seems, in Latin America if I teach at a Public Uni (from MotherF's feedback) or, like you, shift to younger kids.

I enjoyed teaching adults in China - which is pretty much all I did. I and all the other teachers hated teaching teens and pre-teens because it was like teaching survivors of a prisoner of war camp. These kids were so beaten down by the system that they were just hollow shells and had no interest for the most part in learning. It usually took the Chinese, with some exceptions, till about 25 to gain their emotional footing again.

However, the teachers that taught the really young kids had the most fun and highest job satisfaction. So, who knows? Maybe if I don't end up at a public uni, I'll switch to the young ones if there is a demand for me there.
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Isla Guapa



Joined: 19 Apr 2010
Posts: 1520
Location: Mexico City o sea La Gran Manzana Mexicana

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi boomerexpat,

Another idea would be to work independently and look for adult students who are eager to improve their speaking skills and can afford to pay well for your time. I'm in my late 60s and mostly retired. I can live on my two modest pensions from the States but have chosen to supplement my income by taking on a few private students, all of whom come to my apartment for class. They're at least at an intermediate level and need to improve their English for work reasons. I enjoy working with them a great deal and learn as much from them as they do from me!
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boomerexpat



Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 129
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isla Guapa wrote:
Hi boomerexpat,

Another idea would be to work independently and look for adult students who are eager to improve their speaking skills and can afford to pay well for your time. ..They're at least at an intermediate level and need to improve their English for work reasons. I enjoy working with them a great deal and learn as much from them as they do from me!


Isla Guapa, thank you for the feedback. I have thought of that and would probably enjoy it. Also, it would give me more flexibility in terms of the city in which I live.

Most of my work now is 1 on 1 coaching the budding entrepreneurs at the university's start-up incubator. When I was in China teaching mainly business English most of that was 1 on 1 too and it was fascinating. Chinese tend to be boring and very reticent in a group. Close the door 1 on 1 and it is a whole different story.

My concerns would be:

1. getting the flow of students especially in a way that wouldn't require my spending the other half of my time recruiting students.

2. visa issues. With the new restrictions for temporary residence I haven't figured out yet how to get a visa under the new rules if I'm doing my own thing.

Any thoughts on those two issues would be appreciated.
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Isla Guapa



Joined: 19 Apr 2010
Posts: 1520
Location: Mexico City o sea La Gran Manzana Mexicana

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wonder if there's any difference between what you call "coaching" and what I call "teaching".

Anyway, if you want to find out how to become authorized to work independently as an English teacher, check at your local INM office. When I moved to Mexico in 2007, I hired a lawyer to help me get an FM3 with permission to work as a free-lance teacher, but I have no idea how this is being done now. As far as finding students is concerned, I began in Mexico City by putting free ads on the internet at sites like segundamano, vivastreet and adoos. I also worked for a few months for a nice Canadian guy who has a business connecting teachers with prospective private students, mostly working adult professionals. I also found students the old-fashioned way, through friends and neighbors.
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