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January 29, 2003

Grade inflation

/. has an article/thread on grade inflation up.

Posted by razib at 01:51 PM

The article contrasted grade inflation in humanities courses with its absence in engineering, science, and math courses.

These latter fields are convergent - the questions have a well defined answer, and as one of the respondents there said "you can't argue a 25 into a 10". But humanities are divergent. There is no right answer, instead you have to convince people (initially your instructor) that you've been clever.

There is an exact parallel in the Olympic scoring of track and field events, versus ice dancing.

Posted by: Dick Thompson at January 29, 2003 02:38 PM

about a week ago i decided to pick up a book that focused on non-biochemical chemistry (physical, organic, inorganic, etc.) and then decided to go back and visit calculus, differential equations & linear algebra, and now i'm reading trig & high school algebra again because i feel parts of my brain are a bit atrophied.

anyway, it's nice to have clear & straightforward answers....

Posted by: razib at January 29, 2003 02:43 PM

Eh, grade inflation is present in the sciences. At least D's and F's were given in my general biochem course. Out of 207 kids, 7 got D's or F's (2 F's--for missing exams). There was 16% A's and about 50% B's, with the rest being a good 30% C's. Now, that's great compared to humanities, but it's still a little silly. 50% B's? 16% A's? come on. (although I argued to lower the cutoff a little for the A's so that it would include one student of mine--the fact that she's gorgeous and took me out for drinks, etc had NOTHING to do with my lobbying...NOTHING dammit...doth I protest too much?).

Anyway, a similar thing happened with the lab class--I had to argue to get complete lab incompetents--people who NEVER should have passd organic chemistry lab--I had to argue vociferously to get them C's. The professor refused to give lower than a C- (one) for the lab. These are people who were bathing in acrylamide, one guy nearly blinded his lab partner, etc. Shouldn't be allowed in a lab class, much less given a C.

Sorry for the rant.


Posted by: David at January 29, 2003 05:55 PM