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Should Public Universities Implement A No-Grade No-Degree Educational System? – A Debate Essay Essay, Research Paper

Should Public Universities Implement

a No-Grade No-Degree Educational System?

Jeff Pruitt

This debate takes place between two university students who are roommates- JD, who’s a sophomore and Josh, a senior. While eating breakfast before class they read a story in the local paper about falling test scores among American college students. They begin to discuss what the problem might be, and agree that some changes need to be made at the university level. JD says he has an idea that would work, a no-grade, no-degree system. He explains that under this system students wouldn’t be given grades in any of their classes nor would they receive a degree after the completion of their required classes. Josh has never heard of anything like this and is very skeptical that it would be beneficial. He begins the debate by asking JD why this system would be more effective than the one currently in place.

JD: Public universities need to adopt a no-grade, no-degree system because it’s the only way to make people focus on learning. Too many people go to a university just because they need a degree to get a good job. They choose a field such as engineering because of the money and they’re stuck doing something they don’t like or aren’t very good at. Once they get their degree they realize they don’t know very much about their field because all they ever did was focus on getting the grade. By eliminating grades, people would have to focus on the real reason to be at a university – to learn. By learning I don’t mean remembering it for 2 days, I mean really knowing how to do something, like it’s second nature.

Josh: I understand, but most people need some incentive to study, and a good grade provides the reward for hard work. Without some kind of benchmark to tell how well you were doing in the class I believe people would take advantage of the system. They would either not show up or not do any of the work because they wouldn’t be held accountable. They could just cruise through, partying every night or whatever they felt like doing. There would be no way of making sure students were learning anything. Look at how many people don’t go to class now and they need the grade to graduate.

JD: I believe those people would be weeded out. If someone pays their money and never goes to class, or does any of the work, they will realize that they are just wasting their time and money. They could be doing whatever else they want to be doing without spending the money for classes that they’re not getting anything out of. These people would, in essence, flunk themselves out. When they were ready to come back, they would then come back for the right reason, which is to learn. Besides, the current system today only encourages memorization. Since most people feel the pressure of making good grades, they must study relentlessly before the test to try and memorize everything they can the night before. Not having grades allows people to learn at an appropriate pace and not cram six chapters of information into a four-hour study session.

Josh: Many people use memorization as an important learning tool. I mean you must memorize some things, and studying things over and over can be a helpful way of lodging things into your long-term memory. Not all classes are based on memorization anyway. Many classes use presentations, speeches, etc to help students learn. There is also a competition problem within the no-grades, no-diploma system. Without grades there is no way of separating students within the same field. Employers wouldn’t know whom to hire without being able to compare GPA’s. They would have no idea who actually put in the time and effort to learn the material. This could be very detrimental to their business if they hired someone who knew absolutely nothing.

JD: There would be a way for employers to know what kind of employee they were getting. Every student would take a final exam which covers everything they should’ve learned in their field, a four-year cumulative final. There wouldn’t be any passing or failing the exam, you would just receive a score that showed how much you learned during the time in your major. It would be similar to the GRE exam that most departments require for entrance into graduate school. There’s no failing a GRE it just shows how ready you are for the material to be presented in graduate school. Similarly, this final exam would show employers how prepared you were for a certain job. This system would eliminate people who slip through the cracks without learning much, by copying off their friends or cheating, while maintaining high GPA’s. The effort and ability of each student would be accurately assessed by this test.

Josh: Your entire education based upon one test hardly seems fair. Some people just aren’t good test takers and freeze up. These people may be well qualified for any position but would be left out under this system. The quality of education the students receive might also fall. There would be no communication from the students to let the instructor know how well they were learning the material. Likewise, the teacher wouldn’t know how effective he was without testing the students on what they should’ve learned. Every class would have a large lecture hall atmosphere in which the teachers don’t care and the students don’t understand.

JD: I believe this system would create more communication between students and teachers. Without grades, students would hold their teachers responsible for teaching in a competent manner. Under the current system, students don’t care how well the teacher presents the material as long as they’re making a good grade.

Josh: Well I just believe that without some incentives and rewards, such as grades and degrees, people won’t see the reason to attend a university implementing this system. Those students who do will take advantage of not being held responsible for grades, and we will have a smaller number of educated people than we presently do. I know that a system like that would be tough for me to handle. I’m not sure if I could get motivated to do anything. Well anyway I’ll talk to you later, time to go get an “A” on my math test.


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