How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Friday, February 10, 2006

What's in an MBA? - IV

Grading pattern & emphasis on grades

Academic grading here, as perhaps in most other b-schools, depends a lot on term-end (and mid-term) exams. The exam question papers in most subjects were very disappointing - the same old descriptive questions where the length of the answer was important, and which failed entirely to make the respondent stop and think. The marking of the answers then caused quite a lot of grief from time to time, and the next stage - grading - was quite unpredictable as well, especially for those who had
middling marks. Add to that marks allotted to projects and term papers (see previous post), and that unfathomable variable - class participation, and you see why grades occupied most students' minds for a disproportionate amount of time. The number which came out of this process - the beast called CGPA - the number mentioned to top
recruiters on campus, then achieved mythical proportions. Relative Grading (RG) became a verb (to 'RG' someone is to do something that will take away some credit from the counterparty and/or gain valuable credit for oneself). Many people gave up and stopped giving much, or any, importance to grades, for various reasons. This further fueled the feeling among faculty and administration that this batch had hit
rock-bottom in terms of attitude towards academics.

So is there a better alternative? A grading system giving more emphasis on project work or similar non-exam components, combined with an evaluation process giving genuine importance to quality of work and, in case of group work, to share of work can be conceived with some effort. (yes, this is a 'process re-engineering solution' :) ). Accountability can be brought to academic work by making sure - by meeting students, by asking them pointed questions in presentations, etc. - that work done is genuine, well-understood, and containing some individual insight, however small. Subjectivity may not be removed completely, but the experience might be very satisfying for both students and faculty.


"We help deliver genuine business value to our customers by consulting them on improving their business processes" - a line many recruiters in the IT and consulting space parrot in PPTs. Well, to them I'll say, look at your own recruitment process first. Very few companies can boast of low attrition rates of fresh MBA hires, and apart from the employee's own attitude, the flaws in the recruitment process might be to blame.

Group discussions are a part of many recruitment processes. The problem is, these are not used for discovering any potential in the candidates, but more as an elimination mechanism when too many people have applied and have been shortlisted. When there is desperation to get a job during placement week, the quality of GDs is mostly pathetic. And then, many a times the selections made for the next round throw up surprises, as happened with me in case of a prominent IT company in the laterals process last month. I am not saying all this just because I am bad at GDs (which I am), but because the same kind of elimination can be achieved by more careful vetting of CVs by the recruiters and giving out a shorter shortlist (there's no redundancy here :) ).

Many companies also have more exotic formats - games, presentations, case interviews, etc. I am not saying that recruiters do not have a solid basis for having such components in the process, but all that a long-drawn out process can do for a candidate during those three days of placements is cause exhaustion. This also suggests that concentrating all placements in 3-4 days might not be the best way to do it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do agree with a lot of wht u say..may be recruiters can find better means of judging students genuinely interested in the job rather than interested in the paychecks or the brand name that the company has to offer...
(though hv never interacted with u in the insti bt it ws nice to read ur blogs...)

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