Posted 4 февраля 2022,, 10:44
Published 4 февраля 2022,, 10:44
Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38
Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:38
Russian lecturers reacted strongly to the publication on the website of the country's leading university, the Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE), of a lecture by Vadim Radaev, the first vice-rector of the university, entitled Passion for Grades: What Happens Around Student Assessment. The lecturer explains why there is increasing pressure on teachers from students about grades. He also outlined the prospects for the struggle of this university with grade inflation and spoke about the principles that should be based on assessment.
Among other things, Radaev says: “It is clear that the desire of students to improve their grades has always existed. But if earlier it was about challenging unsatisfactory grades just to stay afloat, then recently contesting eights (on a ten-point scale used at the Higher School of Economics) has become typical cases. More and more students claim to receive not just excellent, but maximum marks. And they get them.
Students use different ways to influence teachers. If an individual appeal does not help, collective complaints arise, ombudsmen, parents are involved, demands are made to respect the rights of students, and lawsuits appear. In 2018, HSE students publicly protested in front of the Academic Council against blocking assessments, regarding them as a threat to their safety and a breach of guarantees…”
Among the many reasons for this state of affairs, the lecturer especially singled out two, the most profound ones. First, there is a growing understanding of education as a service with attempts to turn the university into a kind of supermarket and, as a result, to abandon the hierarchical relationship between teachers and students and the traditional principle of mentoring for universities. And this approach is typical not only for the growing number of paid students, but also for students in general.
This kind of “commercialization” is accompanied, for example, at universities in Europe and the USA by requests to satisfy emotional needs: “the consumer of educational services becomes “quivering and nervous”, demands not only to give him the knowledge necessary in the labor market, but also to create a comfort zone, home environment, solve his problems on an emotional level..."
Something similar, according to Radaev, is beginning to be felt in Russia.
Secondly, the situation is also influenced by the behavior of the teachers themselves. The leadership of the HSE is fighting inflation in grades, urging teachers to differentiate them and not give nines and tens to everyone in a row. So if in the third module of the last academic year the share of excellent marks was 64%, then in the fourth it decreased to 54.7%, and the decline, as Radaev hopes, will continue. However, grade inflation is not a new phenomenon at all, and not only Russian, it is also due to the fact that teachers do not work out their methods and assessment systems, and they simply save their efforts, because when checking work, it is easier to put nines and tens to everyone, increasing at the same time and their popularity, and not try to give real assessments and differentiate, so that later they will face the reaction of dissatisfied students.
Teachers themselves assess this trend differently. For example, philologist Mikhail Pavlovets writes in his blog: “A big, complex topic: apparently, the culture of participation that is taking hold in education, at least in humanitarian education (I won’t say otherwise)), shakes the student-teacher hierarchies of an academic university - and the university resists this: if your student is no longer so much a listener, "learning" as your partner in the joint search for knowledge and the creation of finished products of scientific or creative educational activities, the traditional assessment system loses its usual functions, can easily turn into a repressive tool that destroys an atmosphere of complicity and trust between the subjects of the educational process. I speak only for the humanities. Especially in creative programs: let's say that in the "Writing" you were handed 15 stories - and 4 of them are really wonderful. How can I still meet the "no more than 10% 9 and 10 points" quota? When a high score here is both an incentive for further creativity, and a sign of a high quality, rather than a quantitative assessment, and many others. And most importantly - try to prescribe the criteria, for which 10, and for which 9 points are given..."
Philologist and journalist Hasan Huseynov is proud that at his university, the Free University, such a problem does not exist: “But here, at the Free University, there is no “pressure on teachers to improve their scores.” Why? Not because we do not have a "diploma of the established sample." But because participation is the longest distance run, a lifelong interest..."
Teacher Natalya Nepomnyashchikh shares her experience: “I just heard this demand from the director of the college where I worked for a long time “to put only 5 and 4 for humanitarian subjects”, with motivations about the emotions of children: they say that with lower grades we spoil their quality of life, we grieve them, show them our superiority, etc. The other day I saw something similar in a friend tape. A school document instructing class teachers to "stabilize the emotional state" of students. And there is more than one point, and it is with the requirements for teachers to provide emotional comfort and motivation for children. Moreover, without describing the mechanisms, methods, how exactly this should be done. And this one prescribed from above in an order. In fact, this new duty imposed on teachers already seems both redundant and, to put it mildly, strange. It’s as if a normal teacher doesn’t already care about making children comfortable in every sense, that is, he doesn’t yell, doesn’t scare, doesn’t encourage bullying, etc.
And an even deeper question arises in connection with all the new requests for emotional comfort, and this also already sounds like a complaint from parents in schools: what about the fact that acquaintance with some historical facts and works of art can cause negative emotions?
"Why are you telling my child about the Holocaust?" "Should I read" Taras Bulba? / "Mumu" "? - I'm not saying that this is not a debatable issue, I mean that it goes from the area of discussion to the area of directive: to remove everything that is uncomfortable with a chok..."
HSE lecturer Svetlana Krasovskaya also experienced this trend: “I can say for sure about myself that I faced such pressure from students - a very uncomfortable situation. Less often, but something similar breaks through in the Lyceum. I put it down to my own methodological miscalculations and emotional blunders. But obviously it's not just me. Given the experience, I try to make the assessment as transparent and definite as possible; when I check the work, give detailed comments, "rate the efforts", develop criteria and points, and still no, no, but I encounter dissatisfaction, reproaches and a lack of desire to understand. It's something systemic. I’m starting to think that there’s no need to try so hard - trying to satisfy such students / students is like trying to sow the sea - the same result..."
Anna Leontyeva is trying to combine this trend with the usual one: “But I honestly don’t understand why the perception of education as a service excludes mentoring relationships? When we accept medicine as a service or, say, the services of a hairdresser, we trust someone to repair our carcass or cut our head, and we have a presumption that the person to whom we entrusted all this will not harm us, but will do it in such a way that we will be better than now. Because he is better than we ourselves, knows how to heal or cut. Otherwise, we would not have trusted him, but would have taken up the matter ourselves or would have found another specialist. Why is education wrong? I come to a person to teach me, because I believe that he is smarter and can give me what I want to receive. And I won't go to anyone else. That is why, say, I choose University X, not University Y, and I am ready to pay University X. What's wrong here? And yes, trusting University X, as well as doctor X, I agree not only to be taught / treated carefully - so that I feel as comfortable as possible, but also to some less pleasant procedures - assessment and some kind of manipulation , in the "kitchen" of which I may not be initiated, but from which - I believe - I will feel better. This is part of the contract. Not?"
And Natalya Yermakova is sure that higher education in Russia has simply turned into a business: “That's right, our universities are a business. They are as interested in students as the students are in them. Often students prefer TAFE (Technical and Further Education) because education is faster and better paying jobs can be right after. So universities are trying their best to attract students by offering cafes, gyms and spas on the territory :)
Students, by the way, pay for education themselves after they graduate and get a job. Monthly deductions from the salary gradually cover the amount of education, and the parents do not strain at all here..."