Sunday, June 05, 2005

Gradegrubbing from a Directional State University Professor's Perspective 

Atrios and a couple of bloggers have recently blogged about the phenomenon of "gradegrubbing." They describe how annoying and agressive some students have gotten about grades and their sense of entitlement, etc.

For those of you who didn't know, I'm a history professor at a very typical directional state university. I must admit that, while I have students who complain about grades and come by to talk about them, I really haven't had the sort of extreme experiences these other professors are describing.

In fact, I'm actually pretty hard line on grades. I'll change one if there's a mathematical error or I've made some sort of mistake or if a student genuinely makes a good case (which has happened a couple of times in the last eight years but that's about it) but I really don't do it much.

And what sort of grades do I give? Well, I average about 5-7% A grades every semester in my 100-level surveys. I also tend to give Ds and Fs to about 30-35% (sometimes more, sometimes less depending on the class) of my students as well.

There's no grade inflation in my class at least.

Anyway, I don't know maybe it's just that I teach a different type of student from the private or pricey school student who very well may feel like they're "entitled" or they have "paid" for a particular outcome.

I just haven't had such experiences so far.

I just felt obligated to weigh in on this.

UPDATE For my readers that are curious, a "directional university" is a regional university with the name of the region of the state in the name, like, um, say "Southeastern Montana State University."

My own state has quite a few of them at the moment, although there used to be more of them. Several rather large regional universities are now taking on the names of prominent politicians or other more impressive sounding names.

The current hip thing is to try to become [insert state name here] State University so that you can argue you've transcended your "regional" status and become a statewide university.

Have they really? Well, not usually, but it certainly sounds more impressive and it's all about perception these days, isn't it?

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