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Are there positive effects of posting students’ grades publicly?

It is accepted practice at some schoolshg0088手机版登录 to post students’ grade publicly. We can only hope that the intention behind this practice is nothing more than a misguided attempt to motivate the students by “positive” competition.

Let us assume that this goodintent is the reason. This then demands that we analyse if posting students’ grades actually has a positive effect on studentshg0088手机版登录‘ learning outcomes. It must be granted that in some cultures, some students will be motivated by a spirit of competition to improve their standings versus their classmates.

However, this requires a culture that values academic performance and which also values individual competition. In Susan Jacoby’s book “The Age of American Unreason”, the evidence is cited that in some cultures and in the United States, in particular, academic performance is seen as an undesirable trait and that “Nerd” shaming and bullying are common occurrences. Given this, posting of students’ grade would likely have exactly the opposite effect as intended as students will not want to be at the top of the list for fear of repercussions from their peers.

Even if academic performance is valued in the culture, the posting of students’ grades can lead to antisocial behaviour ranging from boasting by high performing students to shaming by lower-performing students. This can lead to needless confrontation and even physical violence between students and potentially even self-harm or suicide in students who feel they have lost face. Given the countlesss stores of both verbal and physical abuse of children by teachers and headmasters at schoolshg0088手机版登录 around the world, our initial assumption that the posting of students’ grades was with good intention is questionable.

It is likely that in many cases the intention is not the celebration of success but rather of shaming students into better performance. In such a situation even the smallest sliver of redeeming value disappears. The posting of students’ grades is also discriminatory, as in most cases it will reflect poorly on those with mental or physical challenges and individuals from lower social or economic status.

Another useful way of analysing this practice is by considering how adults would feel about their annual performance reviews being posted for all of their peers to view. It must be acknowledged that even among adults, who are far more mature and constrained by social values than children, this would lead to, at a minimum, embarrassment and very likely to other antisocial behaviours.

It is, therefore, reasonable to conclude that any possible positive impact from publicly posting students’ marks is overwhelmingly outweighed by the likely damage. Just as physicians are often charged with the maxim “Primum non nocere” which translates from the Latin as “First, do no harm” so should all teachers hg0088手机版登录and headmasters ensure that in everything that they do, they first do no harm. When weighed against this standard of care, publicly posting students’ marks becomes unconscionable.

About the Author

Daniel Adkins is the CEO of Global Institute Middle East, the Academic Partner of Curtin University Dubai. Dan joined Transnational Academic Group Middle-East (formerly, Global Institute Middle-East) in November 2009 to teach in the Foundation and Business programmes. Born in the United States, Dan began his career working in the information technology industry.

During his time in the IT industry he performed IT servicesfor companies including IBM, Dell, Clorox, Philips, Hershey’s, Coca-Cola, Merck, and VISA. Over the course of 20 years, Dan held numerous management positions, including CIO and CEO. Before coming to the UAE he worked extensively in the United States, India, Vietnam, the UK, and the Philippines. He has taught IT professionals in various disciplines including project management, quality management, and leadership skills.

After founding an international school in India, he moved to the UAE in 2007 to return to his passions; teaching and lifelong learning. Dan holds an MBA from Herriot-Watt University and has received professional certifications in project management, quality assurance, and TEFL. He has lectured at the university level in IT, economics, accounting, and law and at the secondary level in business studies, English, law, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology.

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