17 January 2006


I just realized that when the instructor of my TWRF class E-mailed and said the first meeting of "the class" would be Friday, he meant the first meeting of the lab. Not the actual class. So I was supposed to go to class this morning.

Just one more reason why A&M's fun new idea about dividing labs into a 3-hour class and a 1-hour lab pisses me off. I know exactly why they're doing it, too. It's all because of USA Today rankings. See, USA Today used to count lab sections separately in the student-to-teacher ratio, and we have a lot of courses that have 80-100 students and 4-5 lab sections with 15-20 students apiece. So when USA Today stopped counting lab sections separately, our student-teacher ratio rose dramatically despite nothing having changed, and that affected our ranking significantly.

You can't tell me there's any other reason why the school's breaking up the courses. And it makes me mad, because first of all, rankings are irrelevant. I highly doubt they affect anyone's decision to come to A&M, because the sort of person who cares about USA Today rankings is probably the sort of person who thinks you can't get an education anywhere but the Northeast Seaboard. And for the same reason, rankings don't affect how employers think of diplomas.

Second, it hurts grades. Lab usually counts for 10% of the grade, and is (usually) a gimme grade. So when the lab is separated from the class, you could have 3 hours of B and 1 hour of A, instead of 4 hours of A. And that doesn't help anyone's GPR. Now, you could argue that perhaps the student deserved the B, and that's a legitimate point of view; but it doesn't seem fair for the exact same performance to rate an A in one year and a B the following year, when nothing has changed except for this completely arbitrary division of the course, and when the division wasn't done for any reason other than USA Today rankings. And it's even worse if the student has a high D. Then the student has to repeat the course, which he wouldn't have had to do under the old system. (I notice this turn of events generates additional revenue for the university.)

Anyway, now I have to talk to the instructor. Without being mad, which won't be easy since I was already pissed that the book cost me well over $100. This is not a good way to start the class. But at least I already know all the material.


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