Guest Post :: Do Grades Hinder the Learning Process?

Do Grades Hinder the Learning Process?

Guest Bloggers: Melissa McCreery, VP of Development at Kilns College

Do Grades Hinder the Learning Process?

According to the story “Secret World of Student Cheaters” featured on the Today Show earlier this week, a new survey reports that 63 percent of college students admit to cheating. It seems a majority of students are looking for the A, yet trying their very best to avoid learning in the process. Grades have become the primary focus; unfortunately at the cost of learning.

The segment on the Today Show reminded me of a post I’d previously written for this site, and more recently, a letter I sent to Kilns College donors. I thought I’d share a segment of that letter with you.

Dear Kilns Donor,

The faculty and staff at Kilns College continuously strive to keep an eternal perspective at the forefront of learning. As this semester’s finals came and went, our faculty could be heard telling students, “Don’t get an ‘A’ at the expense of truly learning.” It’s true that grades, tests, and memorization are all an important part of pursuing a college education, but at Kilns College we encourage students to set their sights on why they are pursuing an education and how they can use what they learn to change the world.

This semester, in addition to touring the Grotto of St Paul in Ephesus and reading all 27 books of the New Testament, students met with the owners of Croutons, Goody’s, Brian’s Cabinets and Bratton Appraisal Group to witness Christian professionals working in their “sweet spot,” as the Personal Calling & Mission class fondly referred to individuals living out God’s calling.

It’s exciting to see students already beginning to find their own “sweet spots.” This semester a number of students attended The Justice Conference in Philadelphia, giving them the opportunity to hear from world-renowned speakers in the area of social justice and ministry (Nicholas Wolterstorff, Eugene Cho, Dr. John Perkins), as well as meet with representatives from more than 200 nonprofit organizations. Our students prepared breakfasts together at the Shepherd’s House—a nonprofit organization serving the homeless in Central Oregon. They secured internships with local churches (everything from children’s ministry to worship to high school internships coordination). They traveled to Brazil and South Africa with various missions organizations.

At Kilns, we encourage students make learning—not letter grades—their priority. If you’re passionate about your education, the grade will reflect that. Care about learning and the rest will fall into place.

The idea of a grading system goes as far back as America’s earliest colleges. It was designed to reflect what students learned, never intended for use as a stand-alone symbol. Yet, if you’re an educator (or recall your own time as a student) I’m sure you can recall the infamous “will that be on the test?” question, or students debating who the “easiest” teacher was. That is, which class was going to be the easy A. These types of questions reflect an emphasis on the grading system and an almost flippant disregard for learning.

Grades will pass (how many of us remember our college GPA??). Knowledge is something we carry with us throughout our lives.

Let learning be your priority.



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