Friday, November 09, 2007
Ask My Readers: Pluses and Minuses
Becky Hirta's recent post about grades got me thinking. My college doesn't give 'plus' or 'minus' semester grades – you can get a B, but not a B-plus or a B-minus. The topic comes up for discussion about once a year.
The argument for pluses and minuses is basically that they offer greater precision. There's some distance between a B-plus and a B-minus, but in our system, that difference is erased. By the same token, if a student is on the border between two letters, there's more at stake in the decision which way to go.
The argument against, as near as I can tell, is based on false precision. The greater the number of gradations, the harder it is to get it just right. There's also the persistent ambiguity of the C-minus.
Since this argument is raring up for its annual go-round on campus, I'd like to get my readers' perspectives. Does it make sense to go with pluses and minuses, or are we better off sticking with blunt, whole letters?