A number of educators have suggested the a zero is a punitive grade that should not be used. Statistically, a "0" has much more power than all the other grades... what do you think, is a zero punitive, motivational or just a good description of the reality of a student who decides not to hand in an assignment?
Punitive? Only if the student wants to consider it that way. In reality it is a descriptive term of the value (or lack thereof) of the work not done.
What do these wonderful educators recommend? Giving a false and lying grade so that those too lazy to do their work won't feel bad about it? A zero accurately describes the percentage of correct answers or work; anything else is a lie.
You're assuming that the work isn't done. What if there was sufficient effort put into it and the kid is just having a hard time with the subject. School should provide a platform for being self-sufficient in the real world...but it should also actually try to help students who are having difficulty, and possibly may be harmed by receiving such criticism at an early age when they may not yet know how to effectively deal with it. School isn't supposed to be some boot camp that separates 'the weak from the strong'. At lest I hope.
First, the OP said the homework wasn't turned in.
Second, I think we do more harm by coddling our kids, telling them they do great work when it stinks, than by depressing them with the truth. By high school age they need to be able to take criticism, particularly when it's deserved. I'm not suggesting a third grader needs a zero, but high school...
Far better to give that zero, then take the student aside for a little one on one - make them understand that we care and want them to succeed but that are not making the grade yet. We'll help.
Wilderness, you are right on target. Zero is not a punitive grade at all. For such a deserving student, it should be a wake-up call to be more studious regarding classroom assignments. The only reason that students get zeroes is that they are not working and producing as they should. Life is a series of balances or in the words of my tenth grade teacher," You receive what you put out- if one studies diligently, one receives a good grade and if not, one receives the grade comparable to the efforts he/she produces-nothing more, nothing less!"
In a numeric grading system - 0 should be used to reflect no attempt to do work
I don't see how a zero can be considered punitive - If the work is not done - or if it is done incorrectly - you get the grade you deserve - if you don't do any of it, or if you miss all of them, you deserve a zero.
If an adult decides not to go to work or just messes up completely then they won't get paid...
When I was a kid, we didn't get graded for group work - we got a grade on the work we did - we didn't get a trophy for participating - we got a trophy for winning - too many kids and young people today think that they are entitled to things without really having to work for it. Just the other day, one of my students told me that he didn't need to work as an adult because he would just live off of disability! Then proceeded to tell me that he didn't have to work and there was nothing I could do that would make him work! He got a zero on his assignment!!
Melissa - I agree - I was assuming the work wasn't done - the question stated "or just a good description of the reality of a student who decides not to hand in an assignment?" so that is what I based my answer on. If the work wasn't done or turned in because the child didn't understand it, it is the child's responsibility to let the teacher know - depending on age of course. A teacher should always be monitoring their students to see if they have a good understanding of the assignment. School shouldn't be a boot camp, but it should ready students for the real world.
As a teacher, I don't like to give a student a "0" on a test or for homework, but at times it is the reality of a student who just has extreme learning problems or just doesn't want to try. In the school environment where I teach TEFL in Thailand, a grade of "0" will have no meaning, because every student is guaranteed a passing grade of 50 whether they consistently get "0"s or not.
In my experience as a teacher, I have seen colleagues wield the zero like a club...I am more interested in the statistical argument that the zero has to much power when computing averages in the traditional grading scheme
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