I recently wrote a piece on this blog about signals sent by grades. My main point was that grades do not just show how much has been learned. They also show how well students handle time management. Craig Newmark's Door has a post containing a link to an article written by Andy Rinehart on how to survive business school. Why do we, as professors, need to make our students adhere to deadlines?
-- B-school professors are sadists. They enjoy giving you quizzes, and they do so fully knowing there was no possible way you could have finished all the assigned reading last night.
-- You know you're wrong if your professor responds to your comment by asking, "And how did that work out for you?"
-- The probability that you will be cold-called about the one case you didn't have time to read last night is 100%.
I may have given you the impression that business school is more demanding than necessary. This is not correct.
Business school is as demanding as possible and on purpose. It's far too cruel and scheduled to be otherwise, and all of it is for a very good reason: To succeed in business school and the workplace, you need to be an expert at time management. This skill cannot be taught, only developed. And the best way to develop time management is to be beaten round the head with it. Repeatedly.
Even if everyone learned the same amount in a course, those who manage their time better are very likely going to be more successful after graduation. But if we, as some people suggest, only grade on "what is learned", then grades becomes a less useful signal.