Professors outline syllabi in every first class, taking the time to describe (in lengthy detail) what denotes an A, B, etc. Only in a select few classes I have taken, was it actually the case that a B was average. Barry stated that we could choose how much effort we put into the course and assignments and, thus, choose the grade we receive. Furthering one’s education is about bettering oneself and being better prepared when striving to attain a goal. For a little input, we get a lot of output and we adjust our efforts accordingly. Even though a B is average, putting forth the effort for a better grade promises a better return for our efforts.

I’ve never had a professor bluntly state the fact above, but it is true in every class and in our every endeavor. In higher-education, it takes a very self-aware learner to acknowledge and accept that they will be obtaining a B in a course, and part of that also involves knowing limitations when tackling a full course load. Then again, if we can get a “B for effort” and the grad school adage is “B’s get degrees,” I imagine some would just stop there.

It is easy to see that Barry is trying to provide us examples through his teaching methods and the syllabus for thinking about motivation and formal assessments. But I am wondering if his “B for effort” statement undermines what he is trying to model and/or what is the potential effect of this type of assessment system on motivation?

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