Liveblogging Grading: Essays (a brief note on sources) and Curves

I can tell the difference, most of the time, between an essay which directly tackles the primary sources and essays which use secondary sources Instead of looking at the originals. Nothing wrong with doing a little background reading — that’s what the textbook is for, after all — but the assignment doesn’t call for it, particularly. More importantly, while you may have written a clever and insightful essay based on these (and other) sources, if you don’t specifically address the primary source readings, you haven’t answered the question, which is reflected in your grade.


The good news is that the grades for the essays got heavily curved: because there were more than 50 multiple choice questions, the high score there was 51.33; so on a 100-point scale, with multiple choice as 50%, there was little grade benefit from using the top score (I used 50). On the essays, the highest letter grade evaluation I gave was B+, so I used that as the 50 point mark, as follows

Grade points distribution
B+ 50
B 48.5 15%
B- 47
C+ 45
C 43.5 37.5%
C- 42
D+ 40
D 38.5 37.5%
D- 37
F 35 10%

This is, obviously, a substantial bonus. As a result, the median and average test scores in the end were in the C+ range for people who took the test.

Speaking of grade adjustments, remember that the “Overall Course Grade” on your tests is also normed by the top grade in class.

Ibn Khaldun on History

“It should be known that history, in matter of fact, is information about human social organization, which itself is identical with world civilization. It deals with such conditions affecting the nature of civilization as, for instance, savagery and sociability, group feelings, and the different ways by which one group of human beings achieves superiority over another. It deals with royal authority and … with the different kinds of gainful occupations and ways of making a living, with the sciences and crafts that human beings pursue as part of their activities and efforts, and with all the other institutions that originate in civilization through its very nature.” — Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (d. 1406) The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, (trans. Franz Rosenthal, Routledge 1958) v. 1, p. 71, cited in Civilization (11e), 217.