Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fall 2006 Grade Results

I promised to report on the results of my first semester at UH-Victoria, as I pursue my Masters of Business Administration. The short story is two A’s and one B, but the value I hope to offer lies in how those grades were earned. The grades were determined through seven different types of activity, and those are somewhat different from the brick-and-mortar method of education I knew in High School and at Baylor during my undergraduate years.

To understand how grades are awarded at UHV, instead of visualizing a 100-point system, imagine if you will a thousand points awarded over the year. Nine hundred or more earns an A, eight hundred to eight-ninety-nine gets a B, and so on. There are no plus or minus grades, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage, as we shall see. For the three courses this fall, that means three thousand points in grades were issued. I will list the seven categories in declining proportion of the total, and also note a running total and average for each class through them.

The largest portion belonged to major examinations; fifteen hundred out of three thousand points awarded came from Mid-Term and Final examinations, three hundred points each on five tests. This came around, because my Economics and Business classes each had both a Mid-Term and a Final examination, while my Accounting class had only the Mid-Term examination. I want to stop here and warn the reader that examinations in online classes may be very different from one another. My Economics and Business tests were a combination of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and short essay questions, but the Business class required a special browser which did not work the way Internet Explorer does, and this caused me trouble in the Mid-Term. The Accounting Mid-Term was actually a take-home test, but the test was definitely the most difficult test. In Economics, my Mid-Term exam graded 96% and my Final exam 86%. Dr. Adamchik cited statistical results about how students did on each question, as well as an overall average. Overall, the class found the Final examination tougher than the Mid-Term. Personally I liked the way the Economics tests were set up, as questions came directly from self-performed chapter quizzes, assigned homework and discussion board problems. If you did your classwork, you did well on the tests. For those two tests, 60% of my grade was earned with a 91% average, or 546 points out of a possible 600. In Business, I lost the connection to the secure browser during my Mid-Term, and was nervous and hasty when I regained access, which definitely impacted my ability to consider my answers on the Mid-Term. This showed up in my 80.5% grade. On the Final Exam, I studied hard on all the discussions and reading assignments, and earned a 91% on the Final Exam, for an 85.75% average between the two, or 514.5 points out of a possible 600. I was not completely happy with the method used in this class, as there was no formal review prior to the examinations, nor were we allowed to compare our answers and the test questions later. Professor Cloninger explained that this was a matter of security, but I still think that makes it a matter of denying students a proper review. In Accounting, I had great difficulty in the first question, which required assigned certain companies to a set of given financial data. I only earned 10 out of a possible 60 points, and from there could not accomplish the kind of results I planned. I earned a 72% grade, or 216 of a possible 300.

After examinations, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 91% average [A], 546 for 600, F minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 85.75% average [B], 514.5 for 600, F minimum, A maximum
ACCOUNTING – 72% average [C], 216 for 300, F minimum, A maximum

The next largest portion was from Term Papers, 500 possible points awarded. In Economics, I prepared a term paper on Retail Bookstores, which was graded not only on its content and logic, but on a number of technical standards. The short version was that I did well on the content, but lost points because I was inconsistent in style and a little cluttered in places. 90% grade, for 135 out of a possible 150. In Business, the style was fine but I lost points largely because the professor expected me to better balance my argument regarding how a juice company handled an e coli outbreak. In retrospect, there were points I should have presented to better show the company missed opportunity to meet social responsibility, but I still feel that the professor expected me to make assumptions not in evidence, as we were clearly instructed to not use any sources besides the textbook. 86% grade, for 129 out of a possible 150. In Accounting, I participated in a group project which evaluated the condition and prospects of a major public firm, and to make strategic recommendations for it. We earned a 91.5% grade, or 183 out of a possible 200.

After the term papers, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 90.8% average [A], 681 out of a possible 750, D minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 85.8% average [B], 643.5 out of a possible 750, D minimum, B maximum
ACCOUNTING – 79.8% average [C], 399 out of a possible 500, F minimum, B maximum

The next largest portion came from Participation. This is where the online experience radically departs from the face-to-face class. In my time as an undergrad, participation was expected but only earned a small part of the total grade. Online, participation can be and is tracked by actual participation in discussions, especially as to whether the student advances the discussion with substantive comments. I noticed during the last couple weeks, a few students try to make last-minute comments to earn some points, but seriously, if you want full credit here you had better plan on being active and involved all the way through. 430 possible points were distributed here, or over 14% of your final grade. I collected all 100 participation points in Economics, all 250 participation points in Business, and all 80 participation points in Accounting.

After adding the participation points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 91.9% average [A], 781 out of a possible 850, C minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 82.6% average [B], 479 out of a possible 580, F minimum, B maximum

The next largest portion came from quizzes. In both Economics and Accounting, this part really came down to studying the material and doing your reading on time. In Economics, I took four quizzes and averaged a 95% grade, for 95 out of a possible 100. In Accounting, I took ten quizzes and averaged a 91% grade, for 182 out of a possible 200.

After adding the quiz points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 92.2% average [A], 876 out of a possible 950, B minimum, A maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 84.7% average [B], 661 out of a possible 780, D minimum, B maximum

The next largest portion (and the last formal one) came from Homework. In Economics, I earned a 100% grade, or 50 out of a possible 50 points. In Accounting, I earned a 98% grade, or 196 out of a possible 200 points.

After adding the homework points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 92.6% average [A], 926 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 87.4% average [B], 857 out of a possible 980, B minimum and maximum

The next portion came from a little different tack in Accounting. I earned 10 of 10 for a class survey, and 9 of 10 from a peer review, for an additional 19 out of a possible 20 points.

After adding in the sundry points, here is how I stood:

ECONOMICS – 92.6% average [A], 926 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
BUSINESS – 89.35% average [B], 893.5 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 87.6% average [B], 876 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum

The observant reader will have noted long ago that only one of my classes allowed for an A, yet I say I got two. That is because of the final section, the Bonus. This not always an automatic. My Accounting class’ professor, Dr. Lee, offered no curve and no opportunity to raise the final grade. My Economics professor however added a 4-point curve to the grade on both the Mid-Term and Final exams, adding 24 points to everyone’s final tally. And Dr. Cloninger offered an opportunity to submit a mini-term paper on a specific company’s code of ethics, for one point to be added to the final average. I took advantage of that offer, and received that point, which produced the following final results:

ECONOMICS – 95.0% average [A], 950 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
BUSINESS – 90.35% average [A], 903.5 out of a possible 1000, A minimum and maximum
ACCOUNTING – 87.6% average [B], 876 out of a possible 1000, B minimum and maximum

So there you are. Obviously, different students enjoyed different results, but for those few people who could find this useful or interesting, there you go. I have registered for Accounting, Quant, and Management for the Spring, so I will let you all know what I find out. Just a mention on pre-semester prep. I bought new books last time, thinking I would keep them neat and sell them back, but I read them a lot and they got used because I had to read and work them everywhere I could. So next semester I am making sure I get used books, so long as they are the right edition.

2 comments:

An East Tennessean said...

DJ

I work at a college bookstore. When our book buyer buys books back if they can be used the next semester and even if they are marked in, they can be bought back. So your books may be able to be bought back even if they are in very "used" shape. You might try ecampus.com or one of the other online book buyers if you think you want to sell them back. Also Amazon.com or ecampus is a good source of used books for your next textbook go around.

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