Data Schmata Redux Further proof of the "ostrich-with-head-in-sand" mentality about grading. Supposedly grading is "vitally important" as this memorandum claims, but if it is so vitally important that we communicate about student progress, why can we only give ABCDF and NO EXPLANATORY REMARKS...? Is a five-word vocabulary a basis for communication? Even Tarzan did better. And we are talking about something highly complex here: learning. It demands far more than a five-word vocabulary. But, once again, we are told that our records office STILL has not figured out how to add a frigging comment field to the top-dollar commercial student information system we are using. Here is my post from one year ago, in February of 2014. Has anything changed? Nope. #OpenTeachingOU 
Data Schmata We just got the ritual email asking us to provide midterm grade reports for students. Vitally important, as the email says! Uh-huh. So what about this sentence: "At this time, there is not a place for you to indicate a reason or reasons why the student is receiving a particular grade. We are hoping to add that functionality back in the future."  That same sentence has appeared in every email that we have received about this midterm grade report system since Fall 2010. Which means: Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, and now, Spring 2014. (Before 2010, we had a paper-based system and, yes, it did have a small space in which you could provide information about student performance besides just the grade.)
So, if this midterm performance assessment is really "vitally important" as they claim, you'd think they could add a text field to the spreadsheet online that we fill out, wouldn't you? How hard can it be to add a text field to a lousy spreadsheet...???????? When we fill out progress reports for student athletes (also via a spreadsheet online, but using a different system), we are allowed to enter a very small text comment that goes to the student's advisor.
I shudder to think how many hundreds of thousands of dollars (perhaps millions; I have no idea) we have invested in this "student information system," especially given the poor use we are making of it. So, if you wonder why I am completely cynical about all the "big data" hype in higher ed, this is why: we don't even do a good job with the current system we have. Why should I expect that we will do better just because we buy a bigger and more expensive system? The problem is the CULTURE, not the technology.
Other grading discussion ongoing here regarding supposedly "humorous" article in Vitae mocking students:
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