This job of setting assessment gets even more difficult with increasing cohort sizes. That is why its very difficult to find individuals with that ‘big picture’ thinking ability to think far. I hope you find a few minutes of entertainment here. As we know, the DORSCON Orange level has caused NUS to adopt a semi e-learning teaching method. The bell curve grading system does ensure that those who do get good grades managed to do so not out of luck or sheer randomness, or by picking the right modules or lecturer semester after semester. “The bell curve system reduces social cooperation and trust among students. It depends on the primary purpose of the organisation; organisations based on research and innovation tend to be more flexible, open and transparent. If anyone notices, due to the increased traffic and heavy vehicle (shuttle buses…) frequency around NUS, our poor single lane two-way roads have been growing pot-holes just as fast as they can be patched up. Yes, they might seem mediocre here, but are they really? It is not something that the professors force onto the scores. The very marginal increase in diagnostic accuracy of a test by reverting to an absolute form is outweighed by the very significant side-effects that form may bring, in most cases. I did eventually get admitted to an Ivy for graduate school, and had to explain at length to the admissions director why my GPA was “low” (i.e. However, your point that transparency would help stands. I do actually think the same way that you do in that I would like my grade to reflect my absolute level of ability as opposed to a relative one, but recently I’ve realised that the alternative of using an absolute test may not always be reliable at doing this. After all, only a few students will receive the letter grade of an A. For the first module, the test/exam may have been too easy, resulting in high cut-off marks for each grade. Forming avenues by which senior students who have already completed the module can address queries by, and facilitate the learning of their juniors. Simply speaking, there was no margin of error. It has been known for some time that small cohort sizes are more managable to teach as well as being easier for the teachers to guage the student’s understanding and manage the teaching pace. Grading on a curve is a term that describes a variety of different methods that a teacher uses to adjust the scores her students received on a test in some way. Not more than 5%. The students taking it are going to be competing with each other for the majority of jobs. And the military is ESPECIALLY inflexible, due to its function. That makes it very hard for any NUS graduate to pursue master's overseas. The Bell Curve. However, in University it seems to be reversing trend even as some modules move towards seminar style teaching because of the push for our universities to continually increase the intake of undergraduates. This “small class” effect has great effects on people who major in a subject with a small and selective cohort. It has a pretty high world-rank, yeah, but the quality of life of students here is really bad. Smaller cohorts will allow the teaching to be adjusted better as well as better assist slower students. Have lived through and “won” the system, I still say that it is a lousy system. The point I’m trying to make is that because exams are imperfect tools, they will introduce artifacts into the assessment. Easy papers will produce more ‘As’ and the real problem that results is ‘too many’ honours and therefore diluting the reputation and standing of the NUS degree. 30-100 students) and huge classes (600 students). Blog.nus is brought to you by the Centre for Instructional Technology | Terms of Use | Disclaimers. This is quite easily accountable by the fact that H2 Biology, which is a compulsory requirement for Pharmacy students, has covered more than half of the LSM1401 syllabus, so to us it’s a simple repetition. The Straits Times reported on the bell curve grading system in national examinations in Singapore.ST noted that of the six autonomous universities, only the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) still moderate results using a bell curve for certain modules. Though it should probably be before release so that people who did well won’t say the exam sucked, and so on. At the end of the semester, a student is awarded a grade (and not specific marks) for each course taken. Also I see little point in having a CAP system for graduate courses where the out come of a Masters or PhD is a pass and employers don’t really care whether you got a A+ in your modules. But then again, Depends on boss. 2, Christiaan Prinsloo. Terence Tao once said of mathematics, “If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t have the stamina to keep at it.”, Unless you have two equal passions, then why not, you should opt for the one with lower competition. “Fourth, we sometimes also look at the CAP profiles of a class, and tweak the grade distributions appropriately. The post has since become a much-cited resource when the bell curve is being discussed. No wonder it takes A WHOLE MONTH to get the results back where in other universities it takes a few DAYS or one WEEK at most! If you are unsure DO ASK your professor if this module is graded with a bell curve. 3) Third, if Professors have strong reasons to deviate from the recommended grade distribution, we are usually amenable to acceding to their requests. 1 National University of Singapore 2 Singapore Management University 3 Seoul National University. Pitch it tough, most students will fail. A multiple bell curve system might work for the LSM1401 scenario, but the complexity involved in GEMs and SS modules would ensure that there will always be some inherent Mickey Mouse Module creation going on. The bell curve is used primarily as a tool to moderate grades, and as a guide to prevent grade inflation or deflation. This means that your overall score is dependent on how others in your module performed. A norm-referenced test (NRT) is a type of test, assessment, or evaluation which yields an estimate of the position of the tested individual in a predefined population, with respect to the trait being measured. Then, thanks to the system, I also put myself in disadvantages, as I am judged by how high my CAP is, and what honor class I have. Engineering in NUS, both with highly talented students and small cohort. For those unfamiliar with the local university grading system, results are awarded by placing everyone taking the same examination paper on a bell curve. NUS prides itself as a global university, so I was quite surprised when I discovered that we have such a low percentage of international students. Rather, the examination should be set such that it is entirely within the capability of a student who completely understands the course content, yet one that is as challenging as possible but not tedious or routine. AY17/18 Sem 1 CS2103T - CS2101 - CG2271 - EE2020 - EG2301 - GEQ1000 CS2103T Software Engineering Difficulty: Hard Grade Obtained: B+ Lecturers: Prof Damith This is a 4MC core module for CEG students so there's no escaping this. 1 person) get an A grade? Computer Engineering students compete in the same CS classes as the CS majors, who will naturally (not necessary by hard work) be more proficient in CS because they have more CS modules and hence more CS practice and experience. The employer is not looking at your absolute ability either but your ability relative to your peer, since you’ll be competing for the same job. It has become a must to pray and give offerings to the almighty bell curve god. For a more detailed post with examples and technical explanations, please refer to the NUS Provost’s blogpost on how NUS applies the bell curve. This is an obvious strain on our structural facilities. Another example: for Honours classes comprising students with an average CAP of at least 3.5, the grade distribution will be skewed higher. Grade should also be adjusted according to not only class size, but also difficulty. There are also ways in which you can fail an assessment even though you achieve nearly perfect understanding of a topic. He was awarded the Fields Medal in 1966, and spent more than three decades on the mathematics faculty of the University of California, Berkeley (1960–61 and 1964–1995). 4. I got a Grade B in my appraisal but I heard that 80 per cent of us got C grade in ranking and I also did not voice out. Current peer to peer interaction type learning is limited to either voluntary participation via limited cliques, or group work assignments, which are limited to a few people, and usually cliqued as well unless random assignment is used. (just for comparison sake), ——— I am also guilty of that to a certain extent. I am a huge proponent of absolute grading – I feel it is the professors’ duty to set a reasonably challenging (or very challenging) paper that assesses true conceptual understanding (not purely on memory, for that would defeat the purpose of education and critical thinking). Errr, the previous comment by me was regarding Michael’s comment. Small deviations like spelling mistakes in your report should not matter much. My appraisal was Grade B consistently for about 3 years. bell curve grading), but I was passed over for more prestigious scholarships. Thanks for sharing with us this information, makes the system a lot more transparent. Submitted: 8 December 2018; Accepted: 23 October 2019 Brainy STEM graduates left their school with four out of the five lowest grade point averages. We’re all normal-curved anyway, in many aspects not just grades, and in some calsses I’m at the bottom in others I’m a bit nearer the top but it doesn’t matter cos I enjoy most of my classes anyway. The idea of the bell-curve is a kind of macro-policy in which few individuals can digest easily. But in addition, the common view of always looking at it as if we’re opponents in a war has severe drawbacks. Any other grades are scaled between these two points. The top of the curve shows the mean, mode, and median of the data collected. Consequently, they flee for easier “A’s”. That didn’t indicate anything about my understanding of the topic. I realised that most of my readers are students looking for information about undergraduate life. Punctual Koala: If everybody gets As and graduates with first class honours, employers would have to look at co-curricular activities, interview more comprehensively etc in order to determine the optimal ability-salary mix they need. Learning Research by Doing Research → Grades. At least from my point of view, this is not the way to go if NUS wants to continue to be a robust leading university in the region. That NUS gives just about most modules an average grade of 3.5, takes away much incentive to excel, and as many have said undermines the strength of the Honours degrees conferred due to people taking easy modules to out-curve other people. Happy Chinese New Year everyone! I recommend this website: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-37241878/5-hardest-and-easiest-college-majors-by-gpas/. In addition, the students who were in an inflated module would have an unfair edge in upping honours class, while those who were in the deflated ones will be unfairly penalised. In a huge class (~600 people), being the top 100 to 150 would more than suffice. IVLE forums to be created BY DEFAULT for every module, every semester, with all students given the ability to post, and to create new topics. The main problem I see with the bell curve lies in core modules or other optional but almost essential modules in the sense that we have to choose 6 out of 8 modules in a list for example, so it is theoretically an elective but 6/8 of the cohort will probably take it. Furthermore, we cannot S/U Core modules, while GEMs and SS can be S/Ued up to 3 times. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. Once you worked in an office with only 3 people, every cough and fart is annoying because it is so small. It would be more practical and no loss is suffered. The weights of NUS students probably follow a normal distribution too.  Likewise, if I set exams targeted at the average competency of a group of students, and if the class is large enough, the exam scores are likely to follow a normal distribution curve. I would like to strongly discourage any readers from doing something of such a low standard. This means that your overall score is dependent on how others in your module performed. In only reinforces the kiasu, kiasee and selfish mentality that Singaporeans have. CS1020 is a prerequisite for this module. The student/worker would do well to observe the culture at the workplace and adapt accordingly, at least until we are actually able to do something to change it to a form that we prefer. sorry, i’m a first year trying to make sense of my midterms grades … To others, stability is more important. That said, the reduction should have been in the performance area, instead of conduct, but then the military’s the military. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Smale). AY17/18 Sem 1 CS2103T - CS2101 - CG2271 - EE2020 - EG2301 - GEQ1000 CS2103T Software Engineering Difficulty: Hard Grade Obtained: B+ Lecturers: Prof Damith This is a 4MC core module for CEG students so there's no escaping this. In simple terms, the bell curve makes all grading relative, and pits us in competition with our fellow peers. "However, we apply the recommended grade distribution with some flexibility and discretion," he said. Shouldn’t understanding the concepts be as important, if not critical as well? That is , there are too many degree holders for the avaliable jobs therefore making it difficult for graduates to find a job as well at the same depressing graduate wages. What I cannot understand is why is there a need to prevent them? It creates an unhealthy environment where many students are afraid to help one another because they are worried it will hurt their chances of getting an ‘A’,” says former NTU student, Jeraldine Phneah. A YST student could probably sleep through Science of Music and get an A+. ST noted that of the six autonomous universities, only the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) still moderate results using a bell curve for certain modules. The report, which raised the questions of whether a bell curve grading system is used in NUS and, if so, why and how, also suggested that information regarding the NUS grading model is obscure. If CEG students have no time for other more enriching pursuits that could lead to better job opportunities — many employees are looking for people who have other pursuits, and have real passion and experience in those pursuits — then it is a natural disadvantage. To illustrate, I have scored B+ on modules I understand very little about. In this way, students who can handle the course content with facility will still be able to obtain full credit, yet students who learn more than “from the book” will be rewarded. However, since I understand a bit more than the rest of the cohort I managed to get that grade. In the end I pursue that topic haphazardly on my own rather than taking NUS’ module. My apologies for so many opinions. Not everyone needs a honours graduate to fulfill a role, provided a non-honours graduate can perform equally well in the required job scope with a lower expected pay. Post navigation ← It Takes a City. If I recall correctly, I was the single lowest scorer in my cohort.  Higher-level modules with small enrolments typically grade a student based on his absolute performance; larger lower-level modules take into account a student’s performance vis-à-vis the other students in the same module. Where necessary, the final grade which a student receives for a module may be subject to moderation. I am almost graduating, and from personal experience, it is much more difficult to score (in the bell curve) in a small-medium class than a huge class. Hopefully something good will come out of this (hopefully) constructive discussion. NUS grades their students on a bell curve system, much like how A levels are graded. Let’s say you are a CEG student and you are a fast learner. We do not apply the bell curve mindlessly or excessively. The Bell Curve God's picture “He who prays to the Bell Curve God, will be granted the luck to pass the exams!” Reads the Facebook Page description. Surely it is not too right that only 25% of them (ie. 7. There are modules I am actually interested in but ended up not taking because i’m afraid it will drag down my CAP. Define a multiplier K:=log(600)/log(n), where n is the number of students in the class (n>=30). This is a system where the grades of students are moderated according to how they have fared in relation to their classmates. Under the bell curve, it doesn’t matter how much I have learned or how good I am, cause if I am still average (and yet average in this case is good), I get a B. Apr 17, 2015 - The Bell Curve | The NUS Provost Contemplates -- Ugh, the Bell Curve! As a result, things like the bell-curve, or most obviously government policies are difficult to like. To a certain extent it gave me a sense of fairness on the resulting grade since I know that my effort throughout the semester is recognized and valued equally as the 2-hour major exam that checks our overall understanding. And why not? Not to mention that to even enter the major in the first place, the majority of us already aced H2 Biology. I cite McGill University, where I went on SEP. To my surprise, the transcript had a column ‘average grade’. If I have the time in a few weeks I will return and spiff it up. In a grading system based on a bell curve, fixed proportions of students attain the various grades. This would also be a very good source of feedback to the lecturers, because currently the only way they get feedback on their teaching is from students. Posted on December 25, 2013 by Robert Groves. After lawsuit and pleading, I finally got my Certificate of Service, my conduct was listed as “Satisfactory” so it was more or less a Grade D. Therefore, there are no absolute standards in this world. An anecdotal example would be say, Physics or Chem. Isn’t grade deflation indicative that something is not working with the way that module is conducted? It also instills cut-throat competition, such that my personal strategy is to ‘help a few, and kill the rest’. This also means that the course content has to be carefully prepared. Like any job in the civil service, really. My friend works in EDB and it is a high scholar until everyone is competitive. Second, we are not looking for a perfect fit, i.e., we usually ignore small deviations.Â. I once worked in an office with more than 30 people. This module is basically an introduction to group programming projects. As long as you do your work, you should not get into trouble. Addendum: I think the moral of the story is perseverance is very important. Example of a Recommended Grade Distribution:Â. Some professors are well known among students to be extremely good in teaching, and I think it would be great if all the professors could learn from one another. Is that worth constantly crushing the aspirations and self-esteem of university students? http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-37241878/5-hardest-and-easiest-college-majors-by-gpas/, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Smale, SU1101: The Science (and Art) of the S/U Option, Getting Ready for the Workplace (I) – Internships, Introducing Computational Thinking into the Undergraduate Curriculum, Getting Ready for the Future (II) – Career Preparation and Future-ready Skills, Grade-free scheme for freshmen: Greater flexibility in shaping your transformative learning journey. 3, and Mark Gan. Having more international students isn’t a bad thing – our foreign friends add to the diversity of perspectives and … Superstitions aside, students correctly know that the bell curve does affect them in some way or other. From my understanding, several mid-terms assessment have been changed to online quizzes or other CA components have been increased in terms of their weight-age in the overall grading. I asked if the module is bell-curved, to which he said no – but in the end, the marks would end up looking like a bell curve anyway. In working life, if one boss is very difficult to work with, sometimes, the bigger boss may also moderate it a bit. Posts: 2,786 Module Grading in NUS (can get D grade?) I believe bell-curve is a fair system as it is basically impossible to set exam questions such that the difficulty lvl is consistent across different professors or even from the same professor over a different semester. I cannot see how NUS can “tweak the grade distributions appropriately” for finance majors relative to other majors in Business where competition is less stiff. They are scored on a 1.0 to 6.0 scale, of which an average of 4.0 is required to promote to the second year. In the end, not only are the structural resources like our buildings more heavily taxed, the human resources that are the academic staff are also stretched out in an effort to increase module intake. Late bloomers exist, and you and I *may* be one of them. That way students have a target score to work to where they can be “guaranteed” a grade, and professors have some leeway in case the exams are too difficult. Ultimately societies are formed by cooperation, not competition. I do understand how the bell-curve is important as a differentiating mechanism and that it will not be forced upon a class if the work submitted are equally outstanding. “There is no hard and fast rule as to whether the bell curve has to be applied in the grading procedure,” Ang said. I realise the current bell curve system isn’t completely fair in the case of GEMs and SS modules. A Normal Bell Curve calculates a grading curve from a comparison of student results. A lot less “feeders” so to say. What are you trying to achieve with straight A-? Hey Prof Tan, any chance we can shift the module evaluation till after exams and before result release instead? This is a repository for all of my random writings. Â. Additionally, much goes on post-exams, before the grades are finalized and released to students. Thank you, your email will be added to the mailing list once you click on the link in the confirmation email. From what I see, bell curve grading removes the DC content of the cohort score, so information regarding the quality of the cohort is discarded. I believe that this is as such in many computational modules (taking MA1505/1506 for example) in NUS. Also, the examination’s maximum marks should be more than 100%, with the extra marks awarded for solutions to problems that are directly related to but not taught in the course. 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