Thursday, March 30, 2006

Conservative Students get higher grades

As I like to follow this story, Inside Higher Ed again has a story about a study from Unversity of Nevada at Reno, where a sociologist looked for grading differences because of political leanings of students.

He found none, and proposes that this shows that students who complain are not being punished in any significant way for their politics.

I had a student complain to me once about his biased(liberal) professors, but he didn't seem to be suffering any adverse grading consequences. He was annoyed and he tried to avoid certain teachers, but that was about the extent of it. He was quite a good student, with a high GPA.

Inside Higher Ed :: Grading Edge for Conservative Students


Anonymous said...

Every student on campus must be above average and not just the conservatives. The latest report from Institutional Research shows the average UWO GPA is now 2.97. Fully 48% of our students receive a A or AB grade while 70% get a B or better. Few fail a class (3%) or even do unsatisfactory work(6% D or CD).

Lammers said...

I would be interested to see your UWO stats broken out by academic rank. In my Biol 105 pit lecture, fully one-third do not make a C or better, but in my 200- and 300-level Biol courses (majors only), my figures are more in linwith those quoted.

It may be that those who are not willing or able to do college work are winnowed out freshman year, and so only the "above average" student remain.

Anonymous said...

Overall GPAs do increase from 2.66 for Freshman to 3.27 for Seniors but none of these figures indicate that UWO faculty are particularly exacting in their grading. A "C" would even indicate a failure for an Education Major when the GPA for Seniors is 3.66 and Juniors 3.48.

Lake Winneblogo said...

The report that I linked to in my previous post about grade inflation give more information, that are just like anonymous 4:28 posted. Grades go up for each class, especially within majors. They jump dramatically in the school of education.

Biology is doing better than most:
100 level average: 2.11
200-400 level average: 2.89

The worst (highest) is education and military science, who average 3.72 for 200-400 level courses.

Perhaps that fits the story, one would imagine that Military science majors are more conservative than many other majors, but have the highest GPA. Can we call education majors more liberal? I am not sure, but apparently the hardest thing about the school of education is getting in (just like they say about Harvard)!

lammers said...

Isn't that the idea in Education? You have to be pretty darn good to get in? The average and below average students are eliminated, and only the above average remain. Any college or major that enforces minimum admission standards should not be expected to show a normal distribution of GPAs.

Although "C" is defined as "average" work, I think we must view that as average for the population as a whole. Take any random high school graduate, plunk them in a freshman college course, and odds are he or she will earn a C. I do not think a normal distribution of grades is a reasonable expectation once you have a limited sample size and/or a non-random sample.

Based on 25 years of teaching, I have a good idea of what a student at a given level needs to know about a certain topic and how well a student of a certain level should be able to analyze information and express himself or herself. Those who consistently meet or exceed my expectations get B's and A's, those who do so sometimes but not consistently get C's and those who fail to do so get D's. Ordinarily, I reserve F's for those who not only fail to master the material but didn't even exert a decent effort.

In small upper level classes, A's and B's predominate. In my large intro class, the results tend to be bimodal -- students who attend class and do the work earn a B on average, those who don't earn D's and F's.

My philosophy re: grades has always been that I don't *give* grades, I just "keep score."

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, we aren't that selective. We do recruit from the upper half of high school but only 39% of our Freshman are in the top 25% of their HS class and we accept 85% of those who complete their applications. Even if we were more selective, the representatives from ACT tell us that many HS graduate do not come prepared to do "C" level coursework - just 76% English Comp, 52% Algebra, 60% Social Sciences,
36% Biology and 28% all four subjects. If you really think that we are "just keeping score" and that our grades accurately assess student performance, you must also think that students in biology classes (2.79)are less capable than students taking English (3.23), Health (3.73) or Art (3.44) classes.

Lake Winneblogo said...

Grading is subjective and relative.

The amount of work that I ask for and get here at Oshkosh is a joke compared to the amount of work asked/completed at where I went to college(though this may have changed since then).

However, I don't fail all of my students based on that comparison. I try to give an amount of work at a level that is appropriate to the students which whom I work. In an ideal world, shouldn't we make sure that the average student at each institution gets a C? Then we would have two bases of comparison--1) we would know what admissions criteria are like and 2)we would know how each student does versus others that meet that criteria.

Thus, we would know the students who stand out at both Oshkosh and Harvard. We also know that the competition is different and can take that into consideration.

When everyone gets high grades, there is no differentiation within an institution. It plays into all the calls for standardized assessments. If we give all our students high grades and pass them on through, we give others good justification for forcing some sort of outside evaluation onto our institutions!