The following letter is in response to the article “What they are teaching,” published on January 17. You can read that article here: https://echo.snu.edu/wp-admin/post.php?post=4344&action=edit
I’m writing in regards to the February 17 opinion piece, “What they are teaching.” I wish the anonymous writer did not appear to attack SNU professors’ dedication to their students’ success. From giving advice to writing letters of recommendation to sponsoring student organizations, they were consistently involved and helpful (in my experience).
I sympathize with the anonymous writer, however, when he/she writes, “Knowing your academic standing is serious. Some of us might lose a scholarship over this. Some of us might not be able to come back to SNU.” I had similar reasoning my freshman year (in spring 2010) when a professor told the class he would provide feedback on assignments so we could improve, but would not reveal grades. At first I was livid and combative.
With some more time, however, I’ve also come to appreciate that professor’s point of view. While grades can sometimes be a spur urging one on to study more and think deeper, they can also be a distraction at times. If they’re low, they can negate any positive/constructive feedback; if they’re high, they may invite “coasting.”
I think Dr. Neuenschwander had the best system for handling this issue. In STS in spring 2013, he offered students a choice. They could choose to see their grades throughout the semester, or they could choose not to (and receive a small amount of extra credit). Those who would stress without seeing grades could track them, and those who wouldn’t could get some extra credit. Everyone wins.
Class of 2013