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Posts Tagged ‘grade’

The Merits and Demerits of Grading on a Bell Curve

July 15, 2011 16 comments

This entry will touch upon the good, the bad, and the ugly aspects of grading on the infamous ‘Bell Curve‘.  For those of you unfamiliar with either this grading practice, or normal distributions in general, let me briefly elaborate:

Now, for the sake of brevity, I will try to spare you from all of the mathematical gobbledygook and statistical mumbo-jumbo that traditionally comes with these sorts of explanations.

1.  What exactly is a bell curve?

A bell curve, or more specifically, a Gaussian Distribution, is a symmetric curve that is pronounced in the middle, and tapered off at the edges (it really does look like a bell).  As such, the middle portion under the curve contains more area than either of the ends.

 

This is what a typical bell curve looks like.

 

2.  What does “grading on a curve” mean?

When courses are said to be “marked on the curve,” this usually means that a predetermined percentage of students will obtain each grade.  For example, a certain amount of students will receive an A+ (top 4%), a certain amount will receive an A (next 7%), and so on and so forth.  Ultimately, the distribution of grades will fit ‘nicely’ on a bell shaped curve; with the majority of students obtaining marks near the middle portion of the curve (‘B’ range).  Unfortunately, however; this also necessitates the fact that a certain percentage of students will inevitably obtain ‘F’ grades, and fail the course entirely (bottom 6%). Continue Reading >>

The Importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

July 1, 2011 4 comments

Although the saying: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” may seem trite and clichéd, I do believe that it is true.  I mean, an activity that comprises one third of our entire lives must have at least some merit to it!  Despite the ever fervent debates in the scientific community about the nature and purpose of sleep, most scientists will agree that humans need it in order to function efficiently and effectively throughout the day (or night for that matter).  Simply put, monophasic sleep is a paramount portion of our natural circadian cycles; something that has been ingrained within our evolutionary history for many millions of years.

 

Our natural biological clocks don't take lightly to attempts at circumvention.

 

You would think that, being the educated bunch that we are, we would know by now that a good night’s sleep is just something too important to pass up on.  This, unfortunately, is not the case.  Many people that I come in contact with, whether it be at school or elsewhere, seem to be lacking a fair amount of shut-eye.  In fact, it’s all too common to find people nodding off in class, on the bus, on a bench, etc.  Granted, the majority of us have very busy lives; busy to the point that we have to constantly put sleep to the wayside in favor of more stimulating activities such as studying, work, etc.  Incidentally, this is when ‘sleep-debt’ multiplies and grows until it becomes too taxing for us to handle.  Hence why we occasionally end up seeking slumber in the most unorthodox of places.  This is merely nature’s way of helping us deal with the inevitable (nature cannot be beaten!) Continue Reading >>