Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Grade Inflation Discussion sizzles list

SoTL is organizing a forum on Grade Inflation for Halloween. Here is the announcement:

Grades: Tricks or Treats?
Tuesday, October 31, 12 to 2 p.m., Reeve Union 221

A frank discussion on the issue of grade inflation at UW Oshkosh from both faculty and student perspectives. What are the causes? Is it really a problem? Professor Bryan Lilly will moderate the discussion. Panel members include Bill Wresch, Undergraduate Program Director of COBA; John Koker, COLS Interim Dean; and Peter Meyerson, Associate Professor, COEHS. Please bring your own lunch, though “treats” will be provided.



This posting has fired up the discussion list as nothing else has in quite awhile. It began with some thinking about correlation between SOS evaluations and grades in the class. Brian Lilly argues that he has found a clear correlation. Others have written in asking if this is truly a problem. Perhaps the higher average represents better students or students fulfilling requirements better than they used to (Ha!).

It has been a very intriguing discussion and I look forward to the Halloween discussion and more dialogue on our list serve. I suppose I will make a comment about it in more detail myself, when I feel like I have a bit more time.

Back to grading now. . . .

5 comments:

lammers said...

>>It began with some thinking about correlation between SOS evaluations and grades in the class. Brian Lilly argues that he has found a clear correlation.<<

In my experience, this is not the case. In my Bio 105 pit lectures over the last three years, one-third of the class fails to make a C or better, and only 15% earn an A, yet my SOS scores average 4.34 in that class and my overall score on Rate My Professor is 4.7 (no chili peppers, though).

It is my impression that what upsets students more than bad grades is the feeling that the instructor disrespects them, is arbitrary or otherwise unfair. Disorganization upsets them, too. If they get this impression (whether it is true or not), they may retaliate with bad evaluations.

nemesis said...

Maybe some of you need to be honest with yourselves and admit your just not as good at teaching as you think you are. Maybe you really ARE boring or disorganized or mumbly or biased or whatever they say about you. Instead of circling the wagons and shouting, "We're ALL excellent!" you need to be honest about profesors who really are terrible teachers.

Anonymous said...

>>you need to be honest about profesors who really are terrible teachers<<

looking at ratemyproffessors.com it looks like Palmeri rates pretty low, and not much of the complaining is about hard grading

Lake Winneblogo said...

My impression was that Brian was comparing differences in SOS in different sections of his class that had different overall grades. You may get high evals overall, but have you ever compared across sections or years? Regardless, it is good to see that you are keeping your own grades under control in 105. Does that go for your upper levels?

The grumpy ?students? have come out in this thread, complaining about bad professors. Those comments don't really add anything to the thread.

The question was and is: why are grades going up across both campus and the country? Secondly, what can (should) we do about it?

I my actually go to the forum just to see what folks have to say!

lammers said...

Winnie Bloggo said:

>>You may get high evals overall, but have you ever compared across sections or years?<<

Yes, and they are rather consistent, just as grading is rather consistent.

>>Does that go for your upper levels?<<

To some extent, largely because students unwilling to do college-level work have left school before they get that far. Those who are in 300- level electives are usually pretty devoted to their education. Even then, I give more B's than A's and sometimes more C's than A's.

>>The grumpy ?students? have come out in this thread, complaining about bad professors. Those comments don't really add anything to the thread.<<

I beg to differ. Think of the physicians who never criticize a colleague ... until a patient dies.

We are told that bad SOS scores probably mean the professor is a tough grader. It is very much to the point if SOS scores actually identify poor instructors.

I think we have an obligation to investigate such complaints to see if they have merit. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Sometimes our students refuse to accept their own shortcomings and look for a scapegoat. Sometimes, our colleagues really are boring and disorganized. We do not do anyone any favors by insisting, as nemesis said, that "we're all excellent." You know and I know that that is NOT the case.