Daniel Lemire's blog

, 1 min read

Must a professor grade his students?

On December 10th 2008, Denis G. Rancourt, a full professor in Physics at the University of Ottawa was banned from his campus. Why? Because he refused to grade students:

Problems between university brass and Rancourt began eight months ago when he gave every student in his physics class an A+ after he was denied permission to make the course pass or fail. (University of Ottawa bans controversial professor)

In my courses, you tend to either flunk or pass with flying colors. And I have a reputation for making difficult courses. I never thought of making my courses pass/fail, but I guess it could be a good idea. Students, instead of focusing on the damn grade, might pay more attention to the course content.

My experience in graduate school has been that an A is the passing grade, and a B is a polite way to fail you. As a Mathematics student at the University of Toronto, I was under the impression that you either got an A or dropped out of the course. I never cared much for grades anyhow. Which is not to say that you should not measure accomplishments! You must! But I never felt that my job was to provide student rankings.

Anyhow, what about academic freedom? I guess we still have to fight for it.

Further reading: Dismissing critical pedagogy: Denis Rancourt vs. University of Ottawa

Source: Stephen Downes