Archive for February, 2012

Why Faculty Inflate Grades

Monday, February 6th, 2012

In the 2008 book edited by Lester Hunt, Grade Inflation: Academic Standards in Higher Education, Mary Biggs wrote that the “the cause of grade inflation is the faculty.  We give  inflated grades” (p. 112).  But, you might ask, why do faculty give inflated grades?  Peter Eubanks’ article in the August 9, 2011 issue of Inside  Higher Ed  offered three sources of pressure to give inflated grades.  Pressure from students:  students’ complaints about grades prompt “a nagging fear that minor grading errors have indeed been made and that the student should be given the benefit of the doubt.”  Pressure from administrators:  when faculty are expected “to produce good evaluations, [they can] feel a temptation to inflate grades to secure their own livelihoods.”  Pressure from colleagues:  faculty could believe that “if everyone else is giving out inflated grades, why should they be the ones to stand alone, only to incur the displeasure of students who may be confused by inconsistent standards.”  Finally, pressure to inflate grades comes from the faculty themselves: “efforts in the classroom have sometimes been inadequate, that poor student performance reflects poor preparation or teaching . . . , and that grades must be inflated to compensate for . . . failings.”  Which pressure do you feel most?  Eubanks’ full article can be accessed here:  http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2011/08/09/essay_on_why_faculty_members_participate_in_grade_inflation.

CITL Answers – February 2012

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Question:  I have rules in my course for students’ behavior.  For example, I have rules for cell phone use and attendance.  But, I can’t seem to consistently enforce the rules.  There’s always an exception that I have to consider.  Are there rules about rules that will help me?

Answer:  Most faculty are troubled by rules that get broken and then can’t be fixed.  In the December 13th, 2011 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Rob Jenkins listed rules about classroom rules. The first on the list is “Don’t make a rule you can’t enforce.”  For some rules you may spend more time policing, instead of teaching.  The last on the list is “Be consistent.”  Jenkins advises that “if you have a rule, you must enforce it, regardless of the consequences.”  For Jenkins’ other rules, here is the link to the article and readers’ comments:   http://chronicle.com/article/The-Rules-About-Classroom/130048/.