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Monday, 08 January 2007

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rexon

Excellent commentaries from this young academic. I will like to add more to the issue of grading system of UB. As explained by the young academic, most Universities are offering their students good grades to match up with the demands of the job market. If you cannot get at least a second class upper division in your undergraduate studies, you cannot secure admissions or gain employment in high profile institutions here in the UK. That is the minimum standard and UB must recognise that it is placing its hardworking students at a disadvantage.

samleyin

Congratulations for your hard work Prof. Mbarika. Personally, I thank God that you surfaced at the right time where the state can make use of your benevolent knowledge. Please use your position of intellect and instruct our government which is so prococious in frauding and cheating that it is necessary and possible to computerise all electoral registers at this time and era of the century. Please help us get our of this down-throdden mess Biya and his guys of subjugation has driven us into. Instuct them that it pays sometimes to be honest at least for a while.

mettaboy

I beg to differ with the distinguished Prof’s comparison which I think is misleading and sends the wrong signal to students that assessment in western universities is lenient. The prescription of a lax-in-the-grading remedy is based on a faulty diagnosis, which I think aims at the symptom rather than the structural problems of governance undermining the university system. My personally experiences which cut across UB, US, Germany and France, stand at odds with ‘grade liberalism.’

We must differentiate between the tools and performance of an assessment system, that is what is being graded, and the grades. At UB, like any other university in Cameroon, the options or tools employed to reveal a student’s understanding of the course material are limited to an exam and a test (CA) which comprise of 70 and 30 percents respectively of the overall course grade. This is in contrast with most western universities where there is a diverse evaluation portfolio, which usually but not limited to, written exams, class participation, assignments and term paper(s). The final grade which averages the performance across the breadth of options provides appropriate incentive for hard work to be a student’s dominant strategy. Because class participation counts in the final grade, a student comes to class prepared with the readings. Assignments are taken seriously since their share of the final grades is significant. In fact, written exams sometimes may account for only 30 percent of the overall grade. The point I am trying to make is that assessment at the university is more of capturing effort than intelligence. Unlike in UB, the diversity of evaluation portfolio, constrains a student in a good western university to engage robustly with the depth and breathe of a course material.

Without necessarily disparaging our system, I think if one controls for all other things like intelligence, adaptation, and exposure to technology, a student with a 2.0 GPA from A&M University would be more creative and competitive in the job market than a 3.0 student from UB. The evaluation system we inherited from our colonial masters is out of sync with the realities of today’s modern universities that premium hard work and creativity than intelligence. Rather than encouraging students to bank knowledge, policies should instead aim at transforming their critical, creative, and entrepreneurial capabilities. Grade-inflation is a sure disincentive to make our graduates competitive. The surge in numbers of Asians in western universities cannot be explained by lax-grading system. Cameroonians do not outperformed their peers in Asia in standardized tests like GRE, GMAT into graduate schools. The deluge of Indian and Chinese graduates is reflection of the quality of reforms being carried in their educational system. Getting our evaluation institutions right would mean overhauling the governance of universities in ways that encourage partnerships with the private sector in curriculum development, improve the working conditions of lecturers and students, strengthen and encourage research, and reward students to produce alternative point of views or ‘think outside the box.’

Meanwhile, I think the policy process is not always top-down, with politicians being the ones inviting technocrats to formulate policies. The process of formulating policies is not linear, and Cameroon is no exception, technocrats like Prof Mberika can also set the agenda of telemedicine technology policy etc. And I think the advocative comments are a step in the direction of policy entrepreneurism, which is a gap that needs to be filled by technocrats and not politicians. I however seize the opportunity to congratulate him on the great work he is doing in crusading ITC in Africa.

mettaboy

I beg to differ with the distinguished Prof’s comparison which I think is misleading and sends the wrong signal to students that assessment in western universities is lenient. The prescription of a lax-in-the-grading remedy is based on a faulty diagnosis, which I think aims at the symptom rather than the structural problems of governance undermining the university system. My personally experiences which cut across UB, US, Germany and France, stand at odds with ‘grade liberalism.’
We must differentiate between the tools and performance of an assessment system, that is what is being graded, and the grades. At UB, like any other university in Cameroon, the options or tools employed to reveal a student’s understanding of the course material are limited to an exam and a test (CA) which comprise of 70 and 30 percents respectively of the overall course grade. This is in contrast with most western universities where there is a diverse evaluation portfolio, which usually but not limited to, written exams, class participation, assignments and term paper(s). The final grade which averages the performance across the breadth of options provides appropriate incentive for hard work to be a student’s dominant strategy. Because class participation counts in the final grade, a student comes to class prepared with the readings. Assignments are taken seriously since their share of the final grades is significant. In fact, written exams sometimes may account for only 30 percent of the overall grade. The point I am trying to make is that assessment at the university is more of capturing effort than intelligence. Unlike UB, the diversity of evaluation portfolio, constrains a student in a good western university to engage robustly with the depth and breathe of a course material.

Without necessarily disparaging our system, I think if one controls for all other things like intelligence, adaptation, and exposure to technology, a student with a 2.0 GPA from A&M University would be more creative and competitive in the job market than a 3.0 student from UB. The evaluation system we inherited from our colonial masters is out of sync with the realities of today’s modern universities that premium hard work and creativity than intelligence. Rather than encouraging students to bank knowledge, policies should instead aim at transforming their critical, creative, and entrepreneurial capabilities. Grade-inflation is a sure disincentive to make our graduates competitive. The surge in numbers of Asians in western universities cannot be explained by lax-grading systems. Cameroonians do not outperformed their peers in Asia in standardized tests like GRE, GMAT into graduate schools. The deluge of Indian and Chinese graduates is reflection of the quality of reforms being carried in their educational system. Getting our evaluation institutions right would mean overhauling the governance of universities in ways that encourage partnerships with the private sector in curriculum development, improve the working conditions of lecturers and students, strengthen and encourage research, and reward students to produce alternative point of views or ‘think outside the box.’

Meanwhile, I think the policy process is not always top-down, with politicians being the ones inviting technocrats to formulate policies. Formulating policies is not linear, and Cameroon is no exception. Technocrats like Prof Mberika have the capability to set the agenda of telemedicine technology policy etc. And organizing themselves to advocate for specific technology policies is a step in the direction of appropriate policy entrepreneurism, which is a gap they need to fill and not wait for politicians to provide them with opportunities to do it. I however seize this opportunity to join others in the forum in congratulating him on the great work he is doing in crusading ICTs in Africa.


Emah

Mettaboy, I will also beg to differ from you and to agree in totality with Dr Mbarika. While he has talked very eloquently about what is obtained in USA, that you also say you have experience of, I will say his assertion is true in most parts of Europe, More so in the Scandanavians and why not in Germany and to a limited degree as I know to Uk, which Rexon or Akoson can clarify in this forum.

We should actually appraise a perspective at which an issue is looked at, no matter how knowledgeable we think we could be in certain topics or issues.

Take a survey of UB graduates for example, look at their GPA's at undergraduate and compare their perfomances at postgraduate levels with their counterparts in these countries, the statistics will be clear.

Let's look at issues and not persons per say.

mettaboy

Emma,
I think if you read between the lines you'll note that my comments center around the issue of 'grade liberalism' and not the personality of Pr Mbarika's which i very much respect. I don't need to unveil where i studied, which I think is not an issue. But anyway, know that the comments are informed by experiences in the best universities one could imagine.



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