I know this will most likely get moved at some point to the student/post-grad forums, but I wanted to try and get a broad swath of opinions before that happens.
I finished my last MSN-Ed class yesterday and am excited to graduate with highest honors. This being said there is something that just keeps eating at me. I thought I had accepted it, but after a few texts from a classmate last night my temp is starting to boil again. Before I jump onto the crazy wagon and send a letter to the Dean of Nursing, I wanted to get a quick opinion.
I am in an online RN-MSN program. For the second to last class we had a 150 hour practicum. We were allowed to complete this practicum either online, as a student educator in a 5 week BSN class, or in a ground setting that we choose. Since I want to work with new graduate nurses, and had connections to my local hospital, I decided to do the ground practicum. In the online version of this practicum you are responsible for grading papers, reviewing discussion questions, responding etc. The full 150 hours is completed in five weeks.
Now, the format for the ground experience is more tailored to what you want to learn. I did around 15 hours per week attending the new grad classes at first, reviewing presentations, and eventually taught two pain management courses myself. I built my PowerPoints and held the one hour classes. In addition I worked with the Magnet director and designed the logo/T-shirt, attended every meeting I could get into (Education, Magnet, EPP, etc) and helped formulate tables, graphs, and consolidate information. I attended training sessions for nurse care dynamics, gave feedback to my preceptor on her presentations, and interacted with all levels of administration. For me this was the perfect practicum because it embodied how the role of a CNS/Educator can go beyond the classroom in a hospital.
So in the end of the class I was carrying a 98%. At my school anything below a 97% is then considered an A- which carries a slightly lower weight in the cum GPA. My papers, discussion, and professional portfolio project showed my consistent A progression.
Then my preceptor did my evaluations. They were done in 15 minutes and were very fair in my opinion. For the mid-term eval I received mostly 4s out of a perfect 5, and then for my final most of my ratings were a 4.5 out of 5. I know, especially in the professional setting, a person rarely gets perfect scores because there is always room for growth. So I was very happy with my reviews.
Then I got my "grades" on them. Suddenly my % plummeted to around 94.8% solidly into A- range. Now I am sure most of you are rolling your eyes at this point, but maintaining the best grade I can has been a focal point for me. Blame the adult learner in me if you must.
Anyway, I was confused as to how my grade had dropped so much, so quickly, with these evaluations. Well my program applies a grading matrix to the evaluations. So for each number score you receive a calculated grade. For my midterm this equated to 100/130 or 77%. All of my scores were 4-4.5/5. For my final evaluation I received a calculated score of 213/230 or 98%. Once again everything was a 4-4.5/5 but there were more categories, hence the larger point pool.
I asked my instructor why the evaluations were graded, when I had assumed they would merely be pass/fail since they are subjective to the preceptor. She told me she was sorry, but this was just how they were done per the policies of the school.
So of course I mourned the loss of my 4.0, now a 3.98 and moved on.
Well last night, as I talked to a classmate, I found out that if you did the practicum online and got everything done on time, the instructor would rate you a 5.0 on everything so you could get all the points.
I just think this whole thing is bizarre and I am trying to decide if I should write a polite letter about the details of this to the DoN. I am not expecting anything to change with my grade, while the OCD student in me wants to punch a wall, I am still graduating with highest honors and that makes me very proud. But I am wondering if it is worth drumming up a little more drama about it so they might review the policy and make it so the evaluations are consistently honest and accepted as pass/fail, instead of being altered, like the online instructor did, in order to weight the students grade. Personally I prefer my evaluations to be honest and lower, than simply formulated to fit a grading curve.
Thoughts? Educators? Students? Anyone?
Apr 19, '13
As I was reading your post I could see where this was going ... on a 5-point scale, 4/5 = 80%.
Do I personally think you should do anything about it? No, I do not. I think the old adage "life is not fair" really does apply -- "fair" meaning experiences are not "uniform" or standardized. You performed different functions to fulfill the class requirements than did your cohorts who chose the online option, and were graded by a different instructor.
I applaud your accomplishments, and wish you much success in what I'm sure will be a long career.
Apr 19, '13
the problem with pass/fail is that it tends to be too subjective. Grading makes the instructor consider each standard line by line. Then if you have a deficit you know where it is.
Apr 19, '13
I am going to need to think about this more.
Apr 19, '13
Tait, as a "highest honors" gal myself, I am totally with you in the wanting my 4.0 thing. Sorry everybody else.