NUS rolls out “grade-free” system for its freshmen
By Ong Hwee Hwee, The Straits Times, 23 January 2014
In this article, the author addresses the issue of having a grading system in the National University of Singapore (NUS) where alphabetical grades will not be given anymore; instead, the only “grades” given will be a distinction, pass, or fail. A similar approach has been taken by the Singapore University of Technology and Design, and in certain modules in Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University. The author feels that the new grading system would be effective for the students to concentrate on learning and not on the final grade. The main gist of the article is that when an education system forces its students to be graded, the students would focus more on getting good grades than actually learning, meaning that it is possible for students to study hard just for tests and exams, but forget what they had learnt after they graduate. Thus, by introducing a system where students are not pressurized to do well, the freshmen are able to be more adventurous in their freshman year as there is no fear of failing the module. It also serves as a period of time for them to adapt to university life which may be a big leap forward from their previous educational experiences. In paragraphs 12 to 14, the author has also stated that the freshmen of the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine have been under this plan since 2010, and that they have not been shown to disregard their studies just because it does not count toward their final grade. This supports the author’s point of view that the ‘grade-free’ system of NUS will not be detrimental to the importance that students currently put on their studies. In fact, the author even goes on to state that such a system would allow for more time for freshmen to pursue other areas of their interest, such as participating in co-curricular activities. In my opinion, this is a step forward in improving...
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