A Perception of Quality

March 18 2009, 6:04pm

Stemming from my twitter yesterday about how fellow students in my business class can skip class and later complain about not doing well, I again noticed a couple of things which began to make me think about how society perceives quality.

What sparked this thought was a fellow classmate who came in halfway through the class. After sitting down, she proceeded to look around the classroom as if she had misplaced something. It wasn't too long before I realized she was looking for the sign-in sheet. After spotting it, she tried to get it earlier by tapping the shoulder of another student in the row in front of us, who was about to receive the sheet. Right when this front row student was about to pass it back to the late student, the front row student was scolded by another student for not passing it on in the correct direction.

The sign-in sheet continued to make its projected way through the rows.

Eventually, it got to the late student sitting next to me. Still listening intently to my professor, I thought it odd that it was taking her so long to simply initial her name. I soon found out that she was signing in for not only herself but four others.

Granted there has to be a change in the manner in which attendance is taken and those who abuse the system need to be reprimanded, but more importantly, how is it that so many can turn a deaf ear to individuals who comprise an organization identified for its quality and caliber of students. More bluntly, how is it that business majors can get away with this sort of activity then find their way into major corporations.

Surely, if I was doing the hiring, I would want to find a way to weed out these students who, for lack of a better word, abuse the system to find their way to the top. Herein lies not high performers persay (unless your measuring and looking for insufficiency) but a perception of high performance.

Perhaps, these students are really smart. So smart that they are simply able to absorb content from looking at slides their friends give them, or reading the text book; but then why would we increase the capacity of classes to accommodate these students? Couldn't they just learn the material on their own?

Although, I don't mean to say that this is the way to do it, there is still seemingly something missing from this equation, including that there exists a university with students and professors engaging in meaningful, constructive, and innovative dialogue.

When friends ask friends, "Is X class an easy class," 1. what is easy for me, might not be easy for someone else, and more importantly 2. what does it really matter except in terms of grades. Shouldn't we be scored in terms of how much learned, not how to cheat the system? By this token, shouldn't we look for the best performers and not those who are just really good at choosing classes or faking one's way to the top?

In a day and age where so many people are getting laid off, it really behooves organizations to look into this culture which is concealed by a perception of quality. They should do this not only to get the highest performance out of new hires, but to sustain a culture of learning and development to really take organizations to the next level.