Midterm Madness: Grading the Importance

As the semester hits its midpoint, professors have officially assigned midterm grades to students. These grades typically signify the quality of a student’s work at this point of the semester; however, some of the assigned grades have been questionable.

“I don’t think midterm grades are really taken seriously. For a lot of my classes professors will just count an exam that’s during the week of midterms as our midterm,” said one editor.

Nonetheless, many of the editors felt that midterm grades actually were proper representations of their grades. One editor noted that it is beneficial to see the improvement made from the middle of the semester to the end, when final grades are distributed. However, the general consensus among the editors is that there are so few assignments that the grades typically only reflect a small portion of the overall grade for that respective course.

“I don’t feel that any of my midterm grades have been misaligned, but I have felt in some classes that there were not enough graded assignments to go off of by the time midterm grades were due,” said one editor. “I think it depends on the class. I have had classes before where we only had one major graded assignment when it comes time for midterm grades to come out and that was our midterm grade.”

Another editor added that professors like to keep students in-check. If a student has an A, perhaps he/she will not work as hard to maintain it, therefore an A- ensures that the student will continue to produce quality work.

“Professors should want their students to excel and do well in their classes, and when students have to guess how well they are doing because they don’t have a midterm grade then they may end up doing worse than they would have if they had known where they stood at the middle of the semester,” said an editor. “It could be combated if students knew who they could speak to if their professor is not accurately recording midterm grades, or deciding to not record them at all”

All in all, some editors even noted that midterm grades should be abolished altogether, as they are simply meaningless and only work to confuse and distress students. Many believe that the final grade should be the only grade a student receives over the course of the semester. If a student receives an inaccurate midterm grade, they may be discouraged to even try, as clearly their efforts are not producing worthwhile results.

“I feel as though we don’t need midterm grades. At this point in the semester, professors should offer students the option to see what their averages are in case they need to plan differently, but sending out midterm grades is unnecessary,” said one editor.

One editor put forth the idea that professors should only contact students at the mid-semester point if they are doing poorly.

“Professors should provide students with coursework that will accurately reflect their midterm grade rather than simply basing it off of a participation grade,” said another editor. “Also, I think it would be a good idea to completely get rid of midterm grades. Professors should only contact a student at the halfway point of the term if they are doing poorly in the course”

Often, students will see an off-the-mark grade and immediately confront the professor, which can make for an awkward exchange.

One editor noted that some professors will even get defensive if such an issue is brought to their attention.

“I have discussed this with professors and I often hear that professors feel rushed to have midterm grades in sooner than their class content permits,” said one editor. “It can sometimes be difficult for professors to have an accurate understanding of where each student is by the time midterm grades are due.”

Thus, the problem may actually be systemic in nature. The professors often feel rushed and distribute arbitrary grades, therefore causing disarray among the student body. It is clear that change is needed, whether it is abolishing midterm grades altogether or requiring professors to submit accurate academic reflections. Midterms have clearly caused unneeded stress among students.