Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Curve

Very ConfusedAs I was studying for my final exam in Statistics, my mind slowly wandered astray to ponder "the grade curve". Okay. So...I am not doing so well in this chocolate-overdose-inducing 5-week crash course in a subject which I positively have an inherent aversion to. But I've always done well in my other academic courses and never--I mean never have done so poorly as I have in this class.

With that said, I think I'm beginning to understand why instructors grade on a curve. The thought that crept across my mind was this:

Dear ECON 261 Instructor,

This is what I have learned about statistics, the mean, and a sample. Let's say our class is a sample of the UNLV student population or of all business students required to take ECON 261. If we calculate the mean of the exam grades in our class and plot my grade on this mean, it may reveal that I am faring a grade that is average with other students in the class. Average = C (ouch...it pains me to type that). How does that sound for my final grade?
Okay, so there are students who have done well on the tests but they are outliers, unusually small observations outside the normal distribution and thus skewing the data. The textbook also states on pp. 110-111 "its validity is suspect", "outliers should be checked", and finally, "outliers can also represent unusual observations that should be investigated". Therefore, we can just ignore this part of the data, right?
Given that it is a summer session, the probability of the average student absorbing 12 weeks of materials in 5 weeks is a somewhat low. (Okay, I'm grasping at straws here...) Are there extra points for effort? (Sigh. Should I have stopped after the first paragraph?)
Okay. Maybe that sounds a little too desperate. No, this note begging for leniency is definitely not desperate--it's a flat out plea for mercy! NoOOoo, not another 12 weeks with Statistics!!! Puhleeeze don't make me do it...wa haa haa...don't make me, please!

Maybe...if I spent as much time thinking about "the curve", I might actually ace this final exam tomorrow. Okay, okay...back to studying now.
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Updated: Aug.11.2005

Well, the test wasn't so bad. I actually think I did pretty well. I don't know why I let my self get all twisted like a pretzel. Staying calm under pressure is something I take pride in but I guess taking final exams is just not an activity where I can be Ms. Cool, Calm, and Collected nor try to feign.

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