Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Grading Nursing

Here is a guest blogpost by my lovely sister Jennifer Bower. She lives and nurses in Santa Barbara, California. She is currently taking her masters in nursing from the University of Pheonix.

Here's my sister:

It was my first nursing graduate level course. I wanted to make this time in school about me and my learning. After all, this time I was the one paying for my education, and I knew nursing truly interested me.

I wanted to learn all I could for ME and not worry about only the grades and the competition. The first few assignments I stuck with this plan; however, I soon began to slip into my old ways of thinking. “Who cares what I want to write, I need to write something that my instructor wants me to write, and write it the way he wants it so that I can get a good grade.”

The University encourages us to use one of their programs called WritePoint. This program takes the students written work and checks for grammatical errors. Here is an example.

 It can be a helpful program, but it can also be an albatross.

The errors show up in blue print to distinguish it from the rest of the student work. The student then has the option to make the changes as suggested or to leave the work as is. Because WritePoint is just a computer program, I only place so much faith in its suggestions.

I took into account what the program suggested and made the changes that I deemed appropriate to increase the professionalism of my product but to maintain the ‘me’ aspect of the work. After my first two papers were returned to me, I received feedback stating that I lost marks because I had blue areas in my paper. (The instructor took my work and he too ran it through the program)

However, he did not read (as far as I can tell) my paper to see that the items I chose not to change still made sense and had my own individual flare.

I caught on to how he was grading the papers after my second attempt, so for my third paper, I changed every item that was blue, even if the paper now made less sense.

I knew that my grade would be better.

Once again, my assignments had become about pleasing someone else’s criteria and not about my own personal satisfaction.  In regards to my professors grading practices, my suspicions came to realization when I received my paper back the next day. Dozens of us handed in papers Monday, only to have them returned and 'graded' in less than 24 hours.

I again had marks deducted for having blue on my paper; however, the instructor failed to note that the only blue on my paper came from direct quotations. My paper's grade suffered because the quotes I chose to include did not fit the grammatical requirements of a computer program!

My grade was better for the third paper, but if you ask me (not that anyone did or will) it was the worst of the bunch.

Again, despite my best efforts, I am left disillusioned with my position in the education system.


  1. Jennifer, Can you show this blog to your professor?

  2. Sue, I think that is an excellent idea. However, I think I will wait until I have compleated the program.

  3. This story breaks my heart! How many of us teachers wish and hope for a student with that level of drive and interest in a subject? How sad that education really has become a "game" where those who figure out how to play it, win. Just add it to my list of why I left classroom teaching! lol

  4. Gosh...this breaks my heart. Thanks for sharing though! As a student, things like this wouldn't bother me very much because I had the attitude that school was just a game and treated it as such. It's funny (well, not really) that in traditional education systems, it's the ones who really want to learn something that have trouble staying motivated.

  5. You know everytime that I have been in a hospital and need a nurse or health care worker the most important quality that I look for is of course... Grammar and paper writing skills. What a joke! Although in my M.Ed program I had a few profs like that... And they just made the profs who truly get it that much better. At least you are aware of
    how wrong this is. What about the people who think this is the right thing to do!? Great post and thanks for sharing this, Joe.

  6. And one more thing... Even my worst profs never used a computer program to do their grading. Grading nursing papers based on grammar is bad enough... Although feedback on grammar is impotant... But having a computer provide feedback and then use that to create some sort of grade? Seriously?


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