Point vs. Counterpoint

Point: Should Class Averages and Ranks be Posted on Transcripts?

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Incorporating both the class average and ranking into transcripts will be beneficial to the student body. This is especially true when it comes to applying for jobs and even grad school. The reason for this is that there is always one of those courses on your transcript where your 70% might actually be one of the highest marks in the class. Unfortunately, the current transcript has no way to express this information to anyone considering you for a job or graduate position. To them, it’s a low mark that drops your GPA and one of their first assumptions will be that you did poorly compared to the rest of your class, even though that is not necessarily the case. Yes, you can argue the fact that you can address the mark during the interview, but what if the mark doesn’t even allow you to get the interview? That takes away any chance for someone to defend the reasoning behind the mark. By incorporating these two additional pieces of information, employers can understand the situation behind certain grades and keep that in mind when considering your transcript.

From an in-class prospective, having this information visible on someone’s transcript could be used as motivation to do better in class. The reason for this is that now you have a personal comparison to the rest of your class and hoping for just a pass might not seem as appealing as it once was. Furthermore, this system really does help to benefit people who want to do well. For example, in a course where you worked really hard and put a lot of effort into can now be shown through the comparison between your mark and the average.

This implementation may even help to standardize professors’ marking. With the average being recorded on the system and made visible, you can even compare the averages between the different courses. For example, this means that if one professor, for whatever reason, gives the class an average mark of 65% while the remaining class averages are hovering around 80%, the class could give a reasonable argument that something is not right with the one course. This could lead to a mark readjustment, which will benefit the class, and even an evaluation of the course as whole, which will benefit future years. Going back to the point, this change could cause professors to evaluate in manner that is fair to the students and consistent with the other courses.

Finally, as engineers we are taught to use the information given to us to solve the problem at hand. In the case of calculus, we use our givens to find a solution, approximation or equation for the system. In design work we use our requirements as a given to know what implementations need to be done to help perform the task at hand. The same applies to our transcripts. The problem shouldn’t be about the extra information on our transcript, the problem is getting the job position we want and using the information we have to help us get that position.

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