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Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:20 pm
by Gamecubesupreme
I know the general idea of grade inflation is that the average GPA of undergraduates has been increasing year after year.

But exactly how does a university inflate one's GPA?

By telling professors to become more lenient markers and make the classes easier?

Or do they "magically" increase the GPA of all undergraduates after every semester?

Cause no matter how I think about, it makes no sense how the GPA of students 20 years ago would be lower than the GPA of students in present day if we assume the students didn't get smarter as a collective whole.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:21 pm
by merichard87
The curves in classes are becoming more lenient thus increasing grades and eventually increasing GPAs.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:25 pm
by prezidentv8
It's magic, you know

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:32 pm
by thatsnotmyname
I'll contribute wo possible explanations :

1) I do feel like the quality of the average student at top schools has increased over the years which has contributed to grade inflation. There are simply more people doing higher quality work in college now.

2) College is much more expensive now and simply doesn't take you as far as it used to. I feel like ambitious students are more focused on getting good grades now because GPA has greater bearing on job prospects now as well as more students want to go on to grad school. This has a trickle down effect, because professors are more understanding of the effects that college grades can have on a student's future and are more lenient.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 9:16 pm
by Bildungsroman
Some possible explanations:

1. Professors are more lenient because all the drugs they did in grad school in the 60s and 70s made them more mellow and easygoing.
2. The school has a vested interest in not preventing grade inflation. The higher the GPAs of their students and graduates, the better chance those students and graduates have of getting good jobs, snagging important internships, and gaining admission to prestigious grad schools and professional schools. All of this makes the school look more prestigious and move up the rankings, in addition to placing their grads in a better position to later return the favor with fat donations. As collegiate rankings become increasingly important, attempts to curb grade inflation ease up and professors are more inclined to give an A to average work rather than a C.
3. People who go to pretentious, expensive, private universities (where grade inflation is far more pervasive) are generally whiny little pricks with hugely inflated egos and the professors, tired of their shit, just give half the class an A to stop their bitching.
4. Like, something to do with the academic culture?

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 1:30 am
by Gamecubesupreme
Oh I see, it actually makes sense now.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 2:09 am
by jayn3
actually we're just a hell of a lot smarter than every generation that went through college before us.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 2:12 am
by bk1
jayn3 wrote:actually we're just a hell of a lot smarter than every generation that went through college before us.


We have the internet.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 3:27 am
by 09042014
Professors give out more A's than they did in the past. New professors are more lenient, or department heads crack down on professors who don't give out enough A's. Or schools make it impossible to get C's or D's because they are afraid of failing people out of school.

The problem is there is no such thing as A work, or B work. Grading is both arbitrary and subjective. Nobody can tell you what an A physics test is.

I'm a fan of flexible curves, it at least gives a bit of standardization. But most programs don't curve. That leads to inflation.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:23 am
by Dr. Strangelove
Professor: Hey, I like you! I'm going to give you an A no matter what.

Grade inflation..some do it more than others.

My college's math/engineering/physics/chemistry departments are not shy about giving out C's and D's.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:46 am
by holydonkey
Image

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 11:54 am
by SBimmer
Dr. Strangelove wrote:Professor: Hey, I like you! I'm going to give you an A no matter what.

Grade inflation..some do it more than others.

My college's math/engineering/physics/chemistry departments are not shy about giving out C's and D's.


+1 - I would include Computer Science majors also

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 12:41 pm
by CMDantes
SBimmer wrote:
Dr. Strangelove wrote:Professor: Hey, I like you! I'm going to give you an A no matter what.

Grade inflation..some do it more than others.

My college's math/engineering/physics/chemistry departments are not shy about giving out C's and D's.


+1 - I would include Computer Science majors also


I saw this kid walking around in a shirt that said:

"WHY DON'T YOU PICK A REAL MAJOR" on the front

and on the back:

"LIKE COMPUTER SCIENCE"

God, what a douche.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 2:21 pm
by SBimmer
CMDantes wrote:
SBimmer wrote:
Dr. Strangelove wrote:Professor: Hey, I like you! I'm going to give you an A no matter what.

Grade inflation..some do it more than others.

My college's math/engineering/physics/chemistry departments are not shy about giving out C's and D's.


+1 - I would include Computer Science majors also


I saw this kid walking around in a shirt that said:

"WHY DON'T YOU PICK A REAL MAJOR" on the front

and on the back:

"LIKE COMPUTER SCIENCE"

God, what a douche.


I was simply seconding the statement that my professors weren't shy about giving out Cs and/or Ds. I wouldn't wear a shirt like, but I'm proud of my ComSci. major.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 2:59 pm
by legalease9
While many things contribute to grade inflation, I think our focus on grades has something to do with it. Back when most people didn't go to college, getting top grades wasn't life or death for the majority of people not on the college track. Now that more and more people are going to college, and more and more people are going to graduate school, grades have become more and more crucial.

Thus students search for easy professors (rate my professor ftw), and protest/appeal their grades. Parents protest their kids grades a lot at the high school level, and since state institutions are dependent on said parents for votes and jobs, no one wants to cross them. Overtime this (and a whole lot of other factors discussed above) has made it to where the standard grading scale becomes higher. Then everyone else is pressured to match the higher grades (less they make their students look bad compared to students in other classes/schools despite equal quality work).

At the end, I think a lot of it is altruism of the professors. They taught you what they can, you produced what you can on the exam. What good does it do them to give you a bad grade. I'm not saying that long-term this inflation can't have negative consequences systemically, but that's just not what the professor is thinking about come grade time.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 3:08 pm
by legalease9
Desert Fox wrote:Professors give out more A's than they did in the past. New professors are more lenient, or department heads crack down on professors who don't give out enough A's. Or schools make it impossible to get C's or D's because they are afraid of failing people out of school.

The problem is there is no such thing as A work, or B work. Grading is both arbitrary and subjective. Nobody can tell you what an A physics test is.

I'm a fan of flexible curves, it at least gives a bit of standardization. But most programs don't curve. That leads to inflation.


Curves can work to keep grade inflation down, but only if the curve is forced and standardized across an entire school, and better yet an entire nation. The more autonomous curves that exist, the more those curves will be pushed up. I actually think that a nation-wide curve mandated by a single commitee is more or less the only way to stop grade inflation. But of course that screws over people who go to elite schools with a far superior student body (at least in terms of high-school performance). And it favors people who go to low-level schools that take the rejects of everyone else.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 3:10 pm
by bk1
legalease9 wrote:Curves can work to keep grade inflation down, but only if the curve is forced and standardized across an entire school, and better yet an entire nation. The more autonomous curves that exist, the more those curves will be pushed up. I actually think that a nation-wide curve mandated by a single commitee is more or less the only way to stop grade inflation. But of course that screws over people who go to elite schools with a far superior student body (at least in terms of high-school performance). And it favors people who go to low-level schools that take the rejects of everyone else.


If this were created (and I never think it would), the balance between easy and hard schools can be fixed by attributing more value to school rank.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 3:14 pm
by 09042014
bk1 wrote:
legalease9 wrote:Curves can work to keep grade inflation down, but only if the curve is forced and standardized across an entire school, and better yet an entire nation. The more autonomous curves that exist, the more those curves will be pushed up. I actually think that a nation-wide curve mandated by a single commitee is more or less the only way to stop grade inflation. But of course that screws over people who go to elite schools with a far superior student body (at least in terms of high-school performance). And it favors people who go to low-level schools that take the rejects of everyone else.


If this were created (and I never think it would), the balance between easy and hard schools can be fixed by attributing more value to school rank.


Like law firms do.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 5:08 pm
by CMDantes
SBimmer wrote:
CMDantes wrote:
SBimmer wrote:
Dr. Strangelove wrote:Professor: Hey, I like you! I'm going to give you an A no matter what.

Grade inflation..some do it more than others.

My college's math/engineering/physics/chemistry departments are not shy about giving out C's and D's.


+1 - I would include Computer Science majors also


I saw this kid walking around in a shirt that said:

"WHY DON'T YOU PICK A REAL MAJOR" on the front

and on the back:

"LIKE COMPUTER SCIENCE"

God, what a douche.


I was simply seconding the statement that my professors weren't shy about giving out Cs and/or Ds. I wouldn't wear a shirt like, but I'm proud of my ComSci. major.


Oh I wasn't implying you were a douche, just relating that story.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:35 pm
by Bildungsroman
CMDantes wrote:
SBimmer wrote:
Dr. Strangelove wrote:Professor: Hey, I like you! I'm going to give you an A no matter what.

Grade inflation..some do it more than others.

My college's math/engineering/physics/chemistry departments are not shy about giving out C's and D's.


+1 - I would include Computer Science majors also


I saw this kid walking around in a shirt that said:

"WHY DON'T YOU PICK A REAL MAJOR" on the front

and on the back:

"LIKE COMPUTER SCIENCE"

God, what a douche.


Good shirt I saw on campus:

"Liberal Arts: Because our BA is better than your BS."

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:37 pm
by rbgrocio
I'm more familiar with grade deflation than inflation. lol. My school doesnt know the meaning of inflation.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:43 pm
by Tautology
It may also have something to do with current pedagogical thought/evidence suggesting that harsh grading curves discourage students and they end up leaning less than they would with a more lenient curve. If the class is about learning rather than weeding out, teachers are encouraged to give good grades.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Tue May 18, 2010 7:53 pm
by sumus romani
Much of what is said above is sensible. In my experience as a college teacher, I have only heard of one case of a chair of a department telling a teacher that the grades for her students were too high (she gave all A's to everyone for two semesters in a row).

To be sure, ratemyprofessor and word of mouth has something to do with it too. The harder graders that I've know have had problems filling classes, and some of those have been cancelled, but the easy classes are always full.

Also, and more importantly in my mind, student evaluations actually matter now for re-hiring, promotion and tenure. Students simply give bad feedback to those teachers in whose classes they receive what they see to be low grades. Teachers now have every incentive to give all A's. As someone who is known as a hard grader (who has standards :lol: ), I have struggled with this for a number of years now.

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Wed May 19, 2010 9:19 am
by SBimmer
sumus romani wrote:Much of what is said above is sensible. In my experience as a college teacher, I have only heard of one case of a chair of a department telling a teacher that the grades for her students were too high (she gave all A's to everyone for two semesters in a row).

To be sure, ratemyprofessor and word of mouth has something to do with it too. The harder graders that I've know have had problems filling classes, and some of those have been cancelled, but the easy classes are always full.

Also, and more importantly in my mind, student evaluations actually matter now for re-hiring, promotion and tenure. Students simply give bad feedback to those teachers in whose classes they receive what they see to be low grades. Teachers now have every incentive to give all A's. As someone who is known as a hard grader (who has standards :lol: ), I have struggled with this for a number of years now.


I feel your pain. A lot of classes I took were with hard professors, and I learned quite a bit, but I may not have received an A in the class. And like you mentioned, I didn't recommend those professors to students who asked about those professors' grading practices. In the long run, the harder professors gave me the drive to work through any problems encountered in my professional career, but my GPA is not as high as most Liberal Arts majors (no pun intended).

Re: Exactly how do grade inflations work in US universities?

Posted: Thu May 20, 2010 6:42 pm
by jacko
Professors give grades that students don't deserve. Duh