Monday, February 23, 2009

If Students Meet the Requirements, Should They Receive As for their Effort?

According to Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes, an article in the New York Times, most millennial undergraduate students feel they should receive As for meeting the minimum requirements for their classes.

Since the beginning of my teaching career, I have held steadfast to an "above and beyond" principle on assignments and tests. On the first day of classes, I tell the students about this principle.

The Above and Beyond Principle
If you do what is required, you will receive a "B". If you go "above and beyond" the requirements, you receive an "A". For example, if a test question asks "Please list and explain at least two of the four windows in the Johari window", I am really looking for three or all four windows in the Johari window. In addition, before the test, the students receive a grading rubric for the qualitative questions.

Post-Graduation Boot Camp for Millennial Students

I make sure the students understand that I am preparing them for the post-graduation world. A majority of the entry-level jobs that are available to students after graduation will require them to have an annual evaluation with their supervisor. One of the categories on this annual evaluation will be "exceeds expectations". I try to prepare the students for this category by implementing the "above and beyond" principle. Most of the students understand and adhere to this principle, but others choose to merely meet the requirements.

Millennial Student Meeting the Minimum Requirements
What will happen to these students who choose to meet the requirements when they enter the workplace? Many employers are laying off employees and it seems much easier to release employees who merely meet the requirements.

Processing Questions
Will these students (future graduates) continue to choose the easier way out? If so, what are the implications for the future employers of our millennial graduates?


  1. I think "meets requirements" is only a C, where C means average. If they go above and beyond, depending on quantity and quality, it should be a B or an A. I evaluate my student workers (and my full-time assistant, for that matter) the same way. Too many people think they should be marked outstanding (and isn't that what an A used to mean?) for doing the bare minimum.

  2. I have to agree with Amanda. Meeting the requirements equals a "C" with me because it demonstrates "average" work. Above and beyond will earn a "B" while exemplary will earn an "A."

    I can put in A LOT of effort learning how to dance. Even with all of that effort, I'll still only be average (if that). I'll never be an exemplary dancer (just ask my sister, the professional dancer *smile*).


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