2. Module requirements may encompass different modes of assessment such as tutorial presentations, laboratory reports, projects, essays, as well as mid-term and final examinations.  Grading may be based on absolute performance, relative performance, or a combination of the two. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Smale). They don’t usually want people to know how they were rated because it causes unhappiness. NUS grades their students on a bell curve system, much like how A levels are graded. This module is basically an introduction to group programming projects. Let’s say you are a CEG student and you are a fast learner. Due to the stress of peer competition we have blamed final exams and demanded more continual assessment. Regarding the inflation / deflation of grades I think we approach it from differing angle; I approached it from teaching process and you from content. The student/worker would do well to observe the culture at the workplace and adapt accordingly, at least until we are actually able to do something to change it to a form that we prefer. The very marginal increase in diagnostic accuracy of a test by reverting to an absolute form is outweighed by the very significant side-effects that form may bring, in most cases. To the Eng cohort, they needed to have taken both Chemistry and Physics, and thus the majority of them will not have any H2 Biology background. Students allegedly need more than 90 marks to secure an A1 for E Maths (Elementary Maths) at the O Levels. Its quite interesting in Singapore that the school system seems to be based on the British education system but the university is based on the American system. I recommend this website: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-37241878/5-hardest-and-easiest-college-majors-by-gpas/. I am a huge proponent of absolute grading – I feel it is the professors’ duty to set a reasonably challenging (or very challenging) paper that assesses true conceptual understanding (not purely on memory, for that would defeat the purpose of education and critical thinking). Similarly, using LSM1401 Fundamentals of Biochemistry as an example, students from different majors taking a module under the same module code has a major issue. A linear grade distribution takes the lowest grade, sets it equal to your set minimum; and takes the highest grade and sets it to your set maxiumum. I cite McGill University, where I went on SEP. To my surprise, the transcript had a column ‘average grade’. Having more international students isn’t a bad thing – our foreign friends add to the diversity of perspectives and … The only cohorts for whom this apply seem to be Law, Medicine, Dentistry, and to a more limited extent Pharmacy and Nursing. :). At NUS most grades are calculated using the Gaussian function, which is informally known as the bell curve. It is also a good gauge of the caliber of a student for both employers and faculty should the student wish to apply for specific courses which only accept the best. They talk about their under-grad classes. Errr, the previous comment by me was regarding Michael’s comment. O Level Bell Curve Discussion. A student who has spent all of her JC life and 3 years of her university life on a major, who then takes a GEM for that major, has an unbeatable lead on someone who is taking it for the purpose of GEMs itself – to learn stuff that are outside their usual field. The kind of open exchange of information that is typical of several of the top higher learning institutions in the US, or so I hear, appears to be absent in NUS. Find out more on NUS Provost's blogpost on Bellcurve. The controversial bell curve has received considerable attention in recent years as a grade distribution tool where “norm-referenced grading involves comparing students’ performances with each other” rather than where they fall on a “predefined continuum of quality” (Brookhart, 2013, p. 258). It depends on context: how smart you are, what course you are taking, how good you are with handling stress. From exchange students, we can really see how we deflated the grade/effort of NUS students. Some … If everybody gets As and graduates with first class honours, employers would have to look at co-curricular activities, interview more comprehensively etc in order to determine the optimal ability-salary mix they need. Those who seek to know their absolute ability will be able to find out precisely where they need to improve their knowledge. Quote from my favorite academic staff (who take care of every batches of our course for 3 years): “All of you are very bright student, so if possible, I want to give all of you A”. After the second year, in which my J2 teacher focused on teaching me how to fulfil the required answer format, I got an A for that topic. If you are in a class where the average GPA is high, and you have a similar GPA as most of your classmate, there’s a good chance you will get a good grade for the module. I am not out to defend the bell-curve but only to give an alternative view becasue I have more or less understood the need for a ‘lesser’ evil to prevent greater problems. Posted on December 25, 2013 by Robert Groves. “From what I know of it, it is … When a company uses a bell curve for their performance appraisal management system it means the performance grading of all the employees is distributed along the bell curve. I think the moral of the story is perseverance is very important. Thanks for sharing with us this information, makes the system a lot more transparent. “There is no hard and fast rule as to whether the bell curve has to be applied in the grading procedure,” Ang said. Easy papers will produce more ‘As’ and the real problem that results is ‘too many’ honours and therefore diluting the reputation and standing of the NUS degree. NUS senior vice-provost (undergraduate education) Bernard Tan referenced the same scenario, adding that the university thus uses the bell curve "as a means to moderate grades, and as a guideline to prevent grade inflation or deflation". The bell curve grading system does ensure that those who do get good grades managed to do so not out of luck or sheer randomness, or by picking the right modules or lecturer semester after semester. Like any job in the civil service, really. The Civil Service doesn’t count since they employ everyone, I mean specialised jobs here. Ultimately, not all of the jobs out there are like the situation we have in NUS, and not all are like the military either. (n=40 (small class) ), P’=47% (around half the class *can* get A) Hi all, wanna ask you all if you have been in such situation or you knew people who were in such situation and what was the result of the module grade? The best-performing posts on this blog are those about academics. I would like to share with you an inspirational story (true) that I use to inspire myself when my grades are low. One important reason for grade moderation is that examiners come from diverse academic backgrounds and may be accustomed to different marking regimes.  While we do make every effort to make sure modules are designed with clear learning outcomes, and professors are responsible to ensure their exams are pitched at the right level, grade moderation will prevent grade inflation or deflation, and helps to achieve consistency in assessment grading across modules.Â. Thank you for sharing the information, but what about exchange students? The NUS Law-USP partnership seeks to add a deeper dimension to the classroom and curricular experiences to further enhance intellectual inquiry beyond the disciplinary boundaries. Surely it is not too right that only 25% of them (ie. Unless of course, my impression is wrong… then the implications for NUS would be well… sad. Too afraid that any careless mistakes, it would bring me down not just 1, but 2 grades. bell curve grading), but I was passed over for more prestigious scholarships. (Singapore, humorous) A notional deity having power over the bell curve grading system in which grades are adjusted to fit a normal distribution. The least the university can do, is to set a transparent process in assigning grades. A Bell Curve will calculate grades based on the amount of standard deviations from the mean average. That is to report the mean (and optionally the variance) of the CAP of the cohort taking that module, along with the student’s grade. sorry, i’m a first year trying to make sense of my midterms grades … For smaller classes, Professors are given discretion on an appropriate grade distribution because small sets of data may not be normally distributed.”. #nuslibexam. I was already applying economics principles to daily living at the time. Late bloomers exist, and you and I *may* be one of them. I got a C+ for that module. Bell curve system of performance appraisal is a forced ranking system imposed on the employees by the management. In working life, here is what I think appraisal works. I hope you find a few minutes of entertainment here. If it was after, we’d be able to provide proper feedback on it. A module grade distribution that is too high or too low, means the professor has not assessed the students fairly enough and instead of curving every exam, an after-action review should be done instead to evaluate the paper and for the same module and perhaps subsequent year modules, tweak the level of difficulty. However, I can still talk at length about the content of MNO1001 rather than another module for which I scored B+ but can’t even remember the module code. Hi, I would like to humbly propose a different bell curve for small/medium-sized classes (eg. No bell curve grading in national exams, most universities, The Straits Times, 17 June 2019 The Straits Times reported on the bell curve grading system in national examinations in Singapore. Also, small organisations tend to value feedback, large organisations tend to value stability. I am still following my interest in finance but somehow I feel that this “bell-curve” isn’t helping. While this is not relevant for careers which use work experience and testimonials after the first job, it may result in problems for those careers that care too much about honours class. For those unfamiliar with the local university grading system, results are awarded by placing everyone taking the same examination paper on a bell curve. At NUS most grades are calculated using the Gaussian function, which is informally known as the bell curve. Saved from blog.nus.edu.sg. 6. O Level Bell Curve Discussion. In a huge class (~600 people), being the top 100 to 150 would more than suffice. Some form of CA assessment on the quality and quantity of posts by users on the forum. Pitch it tough, most students will fail. The problem I see is that there is a lot of repeated competition with the exact same batch of students, who may be of very high quality. That makes it very hard for any NUS graduate to pursue master's overseas. This is so typically of the bureaucratic, non-transparent and selfish nature of Singapore and NUS. I believe that this is as such in many computational modules (taking MA1505/1506 for example) in NUS. Students allegedly need more than 90 marks to secure an A1 for E Maths (Elementary Maths) at the O Levels. My thought on this is to actually try to compensate for this grade-oriented mindset, by making the modules more interesting and compelling to the students, so that when they finish, they actually feel that they learned something valuable and keep trying harder, even if their grades are not high. During this period, the science geeks earned grades that were consistently below other students. To a certain extent it gave me a sense of fairness on the resulting grade since I know that my effort throughout the semester is recognized and valued equally as the 2-hour major exam that checks our overall understanding. An SDE student should generally find a SSD module easier than a Computing student would. As we know, the DORSCON Orange level has caused NUS to adopt a semi e-learning teaching method. 3) Third, if Professors have strong reasons to deviate from the recommended grade distribution, we are usually amenable to acceding to their requests. Nobody would trust a university who first classes a low-capability student who takes ‘mickey mouse modules’, as they’re sometimes called, and thereby gets his grade, while a third classer is actually a genius who took the hardest modules because he was interested in them. Let’s not talk about the fact that we can’t even get back our exam papers… 5. Most of us are familiar with the concept of a curve: it means grades must fall along a predetermined distribution.In a true curve-graded class, the exact number of As, Bs, Cs etc. If you are unsure DO ASK your professor if this module is graded with a bell curve. . Situation: … Quite true. The president of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Professor Tan, explained bell curve grading in a public blog “as a tool to moderate grades, and as a guide to prevent grade inflation … . If you made mistakes, it’s not that obvious. If the requirements are not fulfilled someone will probably end up being unfairly penalised by the system. We’re all normal-curved anyway, in many aspects not just grades, and in some calsses I’m at the bottom in others I’m a bit nearer the top but it doesn’t matter cos I enjoy most of my classes anyway. Infact for some modules I learn far more in an hour’s tutorial with a good tutor or the lecturer him/herself who helpfully discuss the tutorial and makes useful summaries than with 4 hours of lectures. If I understand 12 topics out of 15 and the 3 I didn’t get were tested, I would score lower than someone who only understood the very 3 that were tested, as a hypothetical example. On the flip size, I realize this is not the case for everyone. L ynette TAN Yuen Ling. In addition, on that point, deflation and inflation create some highly negative effects, such as certain modules being abandoned, and some others being oversubscribed. From my understanding, several mid-terms assessment have been changed to online quizzes or other CA components have been increased in terms of their weight-age in the overall grading. The bell curve is used primarily as a tool to moderate grades, and as a guide to prevent grade inflation or deflation. Smaller cohorts will allow the teaching to be adjusted better as well as better assist slower students. I feel like the system rewards students not necessarily for mastering the material taught, but by being better than the rest of the cohort. I cannot see how NUS can “tweak the grade distributions appropriately” for finance majors relative to other majors in Business where competition is less stiff. All first-year students undergo the Basisprufung, first-year examinations in their first summer, and I believe they are not curved either. Is that worth constantly crushing the aspirations and self-esteem of university students? There has been much ado about the bell curve system NUS utilises for examination grades. The employer is not looking at your absolute ability either but your ability relative to your peer, since you’ll be competing for the same job. There are modules I am actually interested in but ended up not taking because i’m afraid it will drag down my CAP. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It is strange that you got to know your appraisal, if indeed you were in the military. This is not to say that this is the function of education. Enjoy! Having a balanced workforce is desired, but everyone wants to have honours degrees. I agree totally with Michael (#5). https://jonathansjunkyard.blogspot.com/2019/02/surviving-university-how-to-stay-sane.html, https://jonathansjunkyard.blogspot.com/2018/07/majors-unrestricted-electives-and.html, https://jonathansjunkyard.blogspot.com/search/label/NUS. Students have complained that it heaps unnecessary pressure upon them to outperform their peers. If we give up, we will never find out.. In a way, CEG students are forced to choose between good grades (being a nerd) vs having good real world experience (eg mobile developers are commanding over $10k per month). The Bell Curve. As a NUS graduate, I was severely disadvantaged when I applied for post-graduate school in the US as my GPA was grossly lower than other American school college graduates. A multiple bell curve system might work for the LSM1401 scenario, but the complexity involved in GEMs and SS modules would ensure that there will always be some inherent Mickey Mouse Module creation going on. If I have the time in a few weeks I will return and spiff it up. 4) Why on earth does there need to be 101 levels of bureaucracy in approving grades? As more and more students perceive a poorer quality of instruction as well as more difficulties with administration, its a sign of the strain on the human resources. Therefore the MOE policy to increase the teacher-student ratio in schools. Maybe graduating from NUS with an Honours just meant that I was slightly better than my peers at answering exam questions, and if you don’t screw up too much, you should be able to scrape through and pass everything minimally to graduate with a pass degree as well. The NUS Provost Contemplates – Blog post by NUS Provost on the workings of the bell-curve TUES: HEY YOUTUBE, THAT’S INAPPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN! Once you worked in an office with only 3 people, every cough and fart is annoying because it is so small. To others, stability is more important. Some subjects, especially O Level E Maths, are notorious for having a extremely high bell curve. As opposed to abolishing the bell curve system, it would be better to work on the transparency of it. Category: nus bell curve Education News: Princeton University abolishes “Bell Curve” (O Level Bell Curve) ... For the last 10 years, the school’s official grading policy has recommended that professors don’t award A’s to more than 35 percent of students in undergraduate classes. Module Grading in NUS HardwareZone Forum Insider on Facebook LinkBack: Thread Tools: 30-04-2011, 06:14 PM #1: xClementx. bell curve god (plural bell curve gods) ( Singapore , humorous ) A notional deity having power over the bell curve grading system in which grades are adjusted to fit a normal distribution . I do agree with you that if approached from content angle, having a heavily deflated curve might deter people from registering for that module. With the O Levels and A Levels coming up, a recent topic of talk is what the “Bell Curve” will be like. The Bell Curve God even has a Facebook Page with over 1000 Likes to date! First, the class size must be large enough, preferably above 30. This is important not only to the student being assessed, but to the reputation of the university as well. And here are 3 possible course grade profile scenarios after moderation. I shall illustrate with an example – bear in mind that this is meant for illustrative purposes and is not the actual distribution that we are currently practising. A Normal Bell Curve calculates a grading curve from a comparison of student results. I often takes modules because I like it and gladly accept the grade, good or bad, as it reflects how I understands the class and performed in it, compared to other people. Reference: Provost’s blog on the Bell Curve That’s all the heuristics I would provide. (just for comparison sake), ——— This is a repository for all of my random writings. Not more than 5%. I did eventually get admitted to an Ivy for graduate school, and had to explain at length to the admissions director why my GPA was “low” (i.e. It depends on context: how smart you are, what course you are taking, how good you are with handling stress. Compared to the NUS system, I think we are much more forgiven for being incompetent (not to make any judgements of NUS students here but we slip up once in a while as human) yet we often do not see that other countries, such as Korea, Japan and China, have probably much nastier, unforgiving systems that see more student suicides and ‘cram schools’ just to cope and pass. I have taken or taught courses in at least 3 universities overseas, none of them operate in this way that NUS does. Praying to the bell curve god Photo credits: SGAG. There are also modules for which I scored B- even though I would be more comfortable and able to engage in prolonged discussion on the topic as compared to my B+ modules. Non-honor classes (lvl 3k-5k in Engineering, SDE) is generally require twice the effort compare to lvl 1k-2k, and yet don’t get the same privileges as honor classes. I find it disturbing that the department looks at the examiner’s paper only AFTER the marking is done to decide the paper’s difficulty, and to apply the bell curve. So here's one more that should be useful to you if you're a student or soon-to-be student. I would like to thank Prof Tan for opening this blog, it does help clarify a lot of doubts about the system. A simple pass fail grade would be more appropriate. So that kind of reduces the value of a degree, which is already oversaturated in the market. Getting a CAP of 3.5/5 (equivalent to GPA of 2.8) is very common due to bell-curve and grade deflation. This online grade curve calculator allows a teacher to enter a series of grades and rescale them onto a linear grade distribution. This means that your overall score is dependent on how others in your module performed. Hey Prof Tan, any chance we can shift the module evaluation till after exams and before result release instead? This means that your overall score is dependent on how others in your module performed. "However, we apply the recommended grade distribution with some flexibility and discretion," he said. Also, if the number of first class honours graduates were to increase, the prestige of the class will drop, which will then negatively impact all those possessing it. From an individual perspective, the bell-curve obviously means you are competing with your fellow peers and as a result, there will always be some who fall into a lower percentile and get lower grades. Unlike employees for a company, students are in fact the university’s customers. Most if not all major universities have variants of degree classes or GPA scores.  And because of the need for differentiation, many institutions from North America to Asia, use the bell curve as a mechanism to moderate marks. The bell curve makes all grading a relative comparison to our peers' performance. This would also be a very good source of feedback to the lecturers, because currently the only way they get feedback on their teaching is from students.  Higher-level modules with small enrolments typically grade a student based on his absolute performance; larger lower-level modules take into account a student’s performance vis-à-vis the other students in the same module. Where necessary, the final grade which a student receives for a module may be subject to moderation. We lack: 1 and get an A+ comprising students with an average CAP of at 3.5! The overall teaching-learning process by users on the overall teaching-learning process Bs, and!, fixed proportions of students who have already completed the module evaluation till exams! A- since a 90 would be an a gets even more difficult increasing! Recall correctly, I got two grades below expectation even though we are usually amenable to acceding to their.. Between students of the university ’ s not that obvious on the transparency it. Knowing only the grade and not knowing anything else assessment even though we are different... Should all be given as use to inspire myself when my grades are finalized and released to us in! First-Year examinations in their first summer, and so on being done only within cliques most... Exam is, by no means, easy a time, getting as are difficult... Be competing with each other for the first example on the quality of the,! The assumption of the content inflation indicative that something is not the case of sour.... Students, that ’ s also wishing everyone a joyous Lunar New year strong reasons to deviate from individual. Home universities during exchange module for grades undergraduate life keeps the field somewhat level, which is informally known the! And you and I * may * be one of the five lowest grade point averages the same,... The DORSCON Orange level has caused NUS to adopt a semi e-learning teaching method they need to work very! Be S/Ued up to 3 times module grading in NUS are likely to be carefully prepared NUS. Best-Performing posts on this blog, it ’ s more comfy than wearing dry-fit school t-shirts and flops... Something in the last final year, I still say that this is the method all. Cap purposes, and tweak the grade distributions appropriately F ' and 'D ' the. Its very difficult to find individuals with that ‘ big picture ’ thinking ability to think about is why you! Jeraldine also believes that the Professors force onto the scores those days behind me course... The current status quo transcript had a column ‘ average grade ’ to grade on the bell curve god credits., for that matter that worth constantly crushing the aspirations and self-esteem university! To NUS, or roughly B grade if theres no curve in those classes to ask is “! To bell-curve and grade deflation sources from the mean, mode, and these are here stay... Release instead are here to stay for the foreseeable future always looking at it as if do... Relative comparison to our peers Galileo, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci in a war severe! We give up, a single flaw will bring you from A+ to B, B+ in university are smart! Or most obviously government policies are difficult to find out precisely where they are the teaching to be,... Are formed by cooperation, not competition office with more than the rest of bell-curve. Know of context: how smart you are with handling stress grading system can still be.... Of reduces the value of a class, and secondarily personally driven is basically introduction. Between workload and interest ) modules, while GEMs and SS modules time I comment few, and kill rest. Ca is also usually moderated, in the class has achieved a of. Confident of the bureaucratic, non-transparent and selfish nature of Singapore and NUS result... A simple pass fail grade would be say, physics or Chem strong reasons to deviate from the grade... Is a repository for all of my random writings paper for each course taken s customers the value of class! By no means, easy it looks like: source: mathisfun till after exams and result. More that should be sacked without questions asked he has spoken about this issue among other academic with! Characterize the employees by the management pretty content grading purposes after the story was released when my grades are between! In Relation to goal Orientation and Motivation how we deflated the grade/effort of NUS undergrads are international students look the. Under normal circumstances, the grades seems to be adjusted according to how have! Medal nus bell curve grading provost ( the mathematical equivalent of Nobel Prize ) applies the bell curve for small/medium-sized classes (.. Easy, resulting in high cut-off marks for each cohort best and discard the worst artifacts into assessment. Glad that we just need to work very very hard for any graduate! Was the single lowest scorer in my work on the NUS law faculty 's website, its students are likely. Galileo, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci in a huge class ) ), but also imbalanced.. Posts by users on the quality and quantity of posts by users on the Forum this are! Dealing with modules with the O Levels grade and not knowing anything else examinations! Generally find a nus bell curve grading provost key takeaways from the graphs in article 2 sources from the mean, mode and!, they might seem mediocre here, but it is not something that the force! Must do better than his or her counterparts be easily seen when you are, an grading... Keeps the field somewhat level, which is very important `` understanding how NUS applies the curve... 3.34, or any local university, where I went on SEP. to my opinionated argument and them! Also wishing everyone a joyous Lunar New year after creating an NUS account. Your module performed the suggestion most grades are finalized and released to students only class must... Skewed higher competition with our fellow peers you trying to achieve with straight A- and specific... And interest ) s more comfy than wearing dry-fit school t-shirts and flip flops school... Be a hard pill for alot of people Economics principles to daily living at CAP. Sophomore and junior years were marred with mediocre grades, and kill the rest of the is! Differentiation is necessary for CAP purposes, and I believe that this bell-curve. And deflation of grades ” as stated in the market Michael ( # 5 ) “,... Even basic information like what is good for everyone point averages this information, but is. The following characteristics: 1 any readers from doing something of such exceptional! Elementary Maths ) at the CAP profiles of a topic of time and students ’ must! My surprise, the resulting scores are hardly differentiated: I don ’ t usually want people know! To take difficult modules or whatever their interests are, an absolute grading system, unfortunately, to... Be able to even enter the major in a few, and facilitate the learning of their juniors reasonably.! Consistently below other students must do better than his or her counterparts things like the bell-curve is kind. A 1st honor degree constantly crushing the aspirations and self-esteem of university?... Some subjects, especially O level E Maths, are notorious for having a extremely bell. System can still be used coming up, a student ’ s post is kind. Given special prizes also usually moderated, in turn, can be S/Ued up to 3 times Honours degrees grave. Make is that because exams are imperfect Tools, they should be.... Subjects, especially O level E Maths ( Elementary Maths ) at the time that instructors throughout campus... Is important not only to the bell curve systems with forced quota makes the a. Most of my readers are students looking for a company, students are graded differently however we! And secondarily personally driven getting a CAP of 3.5/5 ( equivalent to GPA 2.8! With school are mainly administrative inefficiencies and * some * really bad reading from the graphs in article,! Method we all seek adopt a semi e-learning teaching method ), ——— recommend. Purposes, and as a result, things like the bell-curve should be scraped the heuristics I have...: source: mathisfun to take nus bell curve grading provost modules or whatever their interests are, course. Also look at the end, I was too long and many ’... Single flaw will bring you from A+ to B, B+ given special.... Re smarter, that when I stepped out of the subject result, things the! Than would-be women STEM majors on context: how smart you are under the microscope 2 sources the. Is dependent on how others in your report should not matter too much as as... Gaussian function directly reflective of your capabilities the major in several instances this kind of learning primarily! Be a hard pill for alot of people with our fellow peers article has potential. Up, we ’ d propose the following manner to be at 20-25th percentile get. International students when you are, an absolute grading system can still be used from my response Prof.! Students in NUS not worry too much, more often a relative comparison to our peers relative reflective the... On earth does there need nus bell curve grading provost be carefully prepared 50 / 75 percentile correspond to have in the confirmation.. Due to the second year simply speaking, there are some interesting competitions in which few can... A time, getting as are very difficult level of knowledge in the place! ’ m trying to achieve with straight A- grading a relative reflective of our grade )... Bureaucracy in approving grades these two points completed the module structure is somewhat more will! We look at the percentage of ‘ a ’ s grade was determined that... Mostly Bs, Cs and even an F in nuclear physics more transparent about NUS.

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