[eDebate] 50 point scale at Wake -- re Hester

Ross Smith smithr
Fri Nov 2 13:28:08 CDT 2007

Hester and others, some in back channel have said that we could/should 
just use 20-30 as I described 40-50.

But we once did and now don't. And the psychological barrier (yes, we 
are "dumb" in one sense) is there along with the "meaning" of points 
below 27 as "bad."  43 points does not have stigma.

Furthermore, 40-50 is NOT like 20-30. 40-50 is 80% to 100%. 20-30 is 67% 
to 100%. 27/30 equals 45/50, even if we do not want to change our scale 
at all and just translate. 28/30 is 46.6.  28.5 equates to 47.5 

I was using the 40 to 50 examples I gave as a thought experiment (assume 
you are a "generous" grader, assume it is bad to buck grade inflation 
trends, assume most of the teams at Wake are above average (kids in 
Minnesota), assume a statistically normal distribution of teams 
nationally, etc.).

I never meant to say that 38 points should not be used (I think I 
implied that points in the upper half of the 30's might be appropriate 
for C students when I said that it may not be "necessary" assign C's (in 
the sense of meaningful to pairings or who clears).low 40's might be 
"mean" enough for those who think of points as tricks and treats instead 
of as evaluations of quality.

In the end, Hester is indeed on to something -- we are not "rational" as 
a group. But that's different than being "stupid." There are good 
explanations for a group dynamic that moves in the direction of a 
compressed and "inflated" scale. It does take conscious intervention 
(rules?) to adapt to the the dynamic. Those interventions are not 
necessarily one time solutions (our tourney started the widespread use 
of half points which "opened up space" on the scale for a while).

Ross K. Smith
Director of Debate
Wake Forest University

336-251-2076 (c)
336-758-5268 (o)


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