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Re: Defining Student Success

Dear Jeff et al.,

Back in the dark ages when I was an undergrad at U.C. Berkeley, they had a
dual system of "honors" at graduation. There were the usual "cum laude",
"magna cum laude", and "summa cum laude" designations, which recognized the
student's overall grade point average. In addition, there were
"departmental honors". Each department recognized a small fraction of its
graduates by awarding "honors" in the major. The phrase "with honors" was
included on the diploma and the transcript.

Mark Shapiro

-----Original Message-----
From: Geoff Nunes
Sent: 6/2/2001 6:21 AM
Subject: Re: Defining Student Success

Jeff Weitz wrote:

Sometimes a teacher will say something like,
"this student has the grades but he/she is not really an honor
I always think, "why are we giving high grades to anyone
but our most successful students?"

I have had many very bright students who have gotten straight As without
the slightest interest in physics. They took the course for any number
of reasons, but could develop no real intellectual interest in the
material. Since they were very smart, they could do well on the
homework, labs, and tests. Since the thought of earning anything less
than an A gave them cold sweats, they worked as hard as required to get
that grade. But stopped there.

Do such students deserve less than an A? Of course not! But what about
students who are totally jazzed by physics, but maybe aren't quite as
smart? Maybe they only get a B+ or an A-. The bestowing of "honors"
gives us a wonderful way to recognize and reward attitude as something
separate and beyond ability.