The Latest Posts

Mark McPeek.jpgBio Professor Mark McPeek — an ecologist and evolutionary biologist — seems on his way to becoming a grade inflationist as well. On his blog Mind Games 2.0, he is teasing out the effects of higher grades on Dartmouth students and on the overall environment at the College, and by extension, on all schools. He has six posts up now, all of which look in greater detail at points that he made during his half-hour presentation to the faculty last week. His theme is that grade inflation needs to be stopped in its tracks, lest it have ever-more-deleterious effects on student life.

At the Yale Law School we enjoyed an Honors-Pass-Low Pass-Fail grading system. People worked hard, and an Honors grade was a reward for extra effort. Word was that 10-15% of the grades awarded were Honors; about 85% of grades were Pass; and you’d get a Low Pass if you sold crack to your professor’s daughter. We’d laugh at the transgressions required to earn a failing grade.

Yet I think that we can agree that Dartmouth undergrads are not Yale Law students, or so it seems to me. However in Hanover there exists a contingent of faculty members who believe that there is no need for grades at all. What a curious kind of academic utopianism. Next these folks will argue that we should all equally share the wealth that the national economy produces. But rather than speculate in a void about such things, Professor McPeek has summarized the findings of the academic research and his own study of the effect of high grades on student effort. His blog post on this topic is entitled: Student Effort Declines When The Average Grade In A Classes Increases. An excerpt:

[Researcher Philip Babcock’s] regression analyses indicate that students in classes where they expect to get an A study half as much as students in classes where they expected to receive a C. Thus, simply based on the grades that the average student receives in the class, the work effort on the material for all students in the class could double depending on how easy or hard a grader you are.

Let’s say you went into a class one year, and on the first day you said, “I am going to set the average grade for this class to a C” and then you simply teach the class as you always do but grade assignments to a C average. Then in the next semester, you teach the identical class, but on the first day you say “I am going to set the average grade for this class to an A”, and then teach exactly the same class but grade all assignments to an A average. Which class do you think students would get a better education in, and by “get a better education” I mean know more, be better able to apply what they learned in the class to new situations, and have more skill with the material in the class? Based on human nature alone, the answer is obvious.

I see the same relationship in analyses I have done of the self-reported data from Dartmouth students when they complete their course evaluations at the end of each term.

Makes sense to me, but then I live in the real world where I observe the effects of market incentives every day — and where I pay a high price if I mis-read them. Certain professors at Dartmouth see the world as they want it to be, without asking if people will actually act as the profs dream that they will.

Addendum: McPeek’s other posts on grade inflation are worth reading:

But Nobody Will Get Into Medical or Professional Schools?

Do We Really Have To Come Up With A Grading System That Faculty Can’t Game?

But I Use The Latest Innovations In Teaching?

Are Entering Students Better Prepared For College?

What If Every Student At A University Truly Deserved To Get A’s In Every Class?

Addendum: I am quite enjoying the current discussion on grade inflation. Our debate will bring about interesting changes at the College — ones that could have us actually leading higher education in an area (rather than just saying that we are doing so).

What a surprise. Not only are we having a principled argument about grade inflation, here’s a piece in today’s D by Psychology Professor Peter Tse ‘84 that argues intelligently for a core curriculum at the College. There are many valid criticisms of the idea of a core body of knowledge; however, to my mind, the only thing worse than having a core curriculum is not having one at all.

Peter Tse.jpg

On September 29, 2014 we published a report on the special treatment given by the Dartmouth Admissions department to the children of wealthy donors. Last month Gawker ran a story — How the Rich Get Into Ivies: Behind the Scenes of Elite Admissions — that described the horsetrading engaged in by a senior executive at Sony in order have his daughter accepted to Brown. Numerous e-mails document the quid pro quo of a commitment to a million dollar donation in exchange for a slot in the class of 2019. Ugly stuff, indeed.

Rick Mills6.jpgThe effort to pare down the responsibilities of the previously sprawling and unmanageable Dean of the College’s office continues. This is a wise strategy; when an area of a large bureaucracy is unmanaged, you know that costs will climb year in and year out. Athletics, dorm maintenance and DDS have all been taken from the Dean’s office, and now it seems that Safety & Security will be stripped away, too. From here on, S&S will be directed by EVP Rick Mills — undoubtedly the leading light in Phil’s administration.

Dean of the College Org ChartA1.jpg

Rick’s new role comes at an interesting time. Will the College really chase after MDF imbibers of hard liquor? Disciplinary actions for liquor law violations rose hugely in 2013 according to the College’s own figures and the Clery Act stats (below):

Clery Act Alcohol 2013.jpg

We won’t have 2014 figures until October.

As well, as we have seen, staffing at S&S continues to rise. Will Rick trim the College’s bloated department of private security guards, which is now larger than the Town of Hanover’s sworn, gun-totin’ police force.

                        

Faculty members tell me that when they offer to have groups of students over to their home for dinner, many undergrads are often “too busy” to accept such a generous, Dartmouth-like invitation. Geez. I can think of no better use of students’ time during their four years in Hanover — other than going to class, of course.

If you can’t make it for dinner, go to lunch:

Take your Professor.jpg

For grins, ask you friends at other Ivy schools how often they get a chance to do something similar.

The women’s softball team swept Penn 2-1 and 1-0 yesterday in Ivy League Championship Series, and they are off to the NCAA’s — just like the women’s tennis team.

Addendum: The men’s baseball team will play Columbia for the Ivy championship this coming weekend, having won its eighth straight Red Rolfe division title. Coach Bob Whalen could be held up as a model for what a coach should be for his players before, during and after the season, and long into their future.

Addendum: Not to jinx things, but if football can win the Ivies this year (rumor has it that before bed Buddy prays in the same breath for the good health of his family and Dalyn Williams), we might be able to conclude that Harry Sheehy has turned around the athletics program.

Morgan Philie.jpgWe won’t be seeing future soldiers doing close-order drill on the Green any time soon (like the WWI trainees in the photo below), but it felt good to spot an ROTC cadet in camo on campus the other day. Morgan Philie ‘18 was coming from class and on her way to ROTC training. She reports:

We only wear our uniform (ACUs — Army Combat Uniform — which is the camo) when we go to our military science classes or any other ROTC event/class, like military lab. So, it’s an honor to wear the uniform the few times that we do throughout the week. I walk all the way across campus in uniform, so there’s usually at least one person who stops to thank me for my service. Even though most of us, as cadets, have not yet served outside of our education and training here in the ROTC program, we still share the same pride as those who have.

We are very appreciative of the backing that we have from the Dartmouth community, and it’s always a pleasure to be reminded of that support. It’s an honor to serve. Thanks again for stopping me in the street!

Dartmouth SAT troops.jpg

Morgan is from West Friendship, Maryland, and she plays defense for the varsity field hockey team. Her brother graduated from West Point in 2013.

Students at Emerson College invaded a faculty meeting the day before yesterday in the same way that the Freedom Budgeters invaded Phil’s office in late March last year.

Emerson President Lee Pelton responded as fecklessly as Phil Hanlon did. A wonderful opportunity for growth, indeed.

Emerson Demonstration.jpg

Pelton was Dean of the College at Dartmouth from 1991-1998.

Addendum: Dartmouth will have another faculty meeting on June 1. Maybe students will want to demonstrate in favor of diversity and inclusion?

George Hannett ‘75, an alum who took a class with Don Pease even before I did, comments:

I enjoyed your post the other day concerning the exchange between Professor McPeek and Professor Pease. I too had Professor Pease as a professor back in the early 1970s. In fact, the course I took, an English course he team taught with Professor Cox on 19th Century American Literature, may have been the first or one of the very first courses Donald Pease taught at Dartmouth. I have from time to time since that long ago era followed his enduring career at Dartmouth, mostly with a bit of amusement. Few people are able to pack such a small number of thoughts into such a large morass of words as, as you so aptly put it, the bloviating Professor Pease. And I find it particularly amusing how he is able to so often do it in a way that makes it appear on the surface as if he is a particularly profound, wise and erudite deep thinker. If anything, I suspect that he has only gotten worse over the years.

In his opening statement that you quoted at length, Professor Pease began by talking about “rhetoric.” That word and the torrent of gibberish that followed brought to mind Benjamin Disreali’s wonderful description of his rival William Gladstone, words that seem particularly appropriate to Professor Pease:

“A sophistical rhetorician, inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and gifted with an egotistical imagination that can at all times command an interminable and inconsistent series of arguments to malign an opponent and to glorify himself.”

Professor Pease is clearly a man inebriated with the exuberance of his own verbosity, and there appear to be no signs out there that, as a man who is clearly in love with the sound of his own voice, he is going to be sobering up anytime soon.

Addendum: After working on the staff of the Governor of New Mexico and as a law clerk for the New Mexico Supreme Court, George Hannett ‘75 has practiced law in Albuquerque for over a quarter of a century. He can occasionally be long-winded, an affliction he ties directly to contact at an impressionable age with Professor Pease — who was nonetheless unable to eradicate George’s sense of humor.

Addendum: Don Pease has earned his own YouTube parody videos entitled Damn It Feels Good To Be Don Pease and Big Daddy Don Pease, along with a short blogspot site called Donald Pease: The Man, the Myth, the Legend that assembles his various non sequiturs.

A professor who reads Dartblog regualrly shares some thoughts on certain aspects of Mark McPeek’s grade inflation presentation:

It was nice to see Prof. McPeek support his arguments about grade inflation with data. When I started at Dartmouth, DCAL sent me an article entitled “Grade Inflation: A Dangerous Myth.” It’s clear in Prof. McPeek’s data that it’s no myth!

I do have three quibbles about his interpretation of the data.

First, saying that grades do not matter for medical school admissions is pretty ridiculous. His evidence for this argument was that someone with a 2.5-2.75 GPA gets into med-school each year. If you look though at the means for accepted and non-accepted kids, there is a big difference, which is obscured by the choice of scale on the graph. I read it as 3.65 vs. 3.3. That’s a huge difference, especially in an grade-inflated world. All the pre-meds working their behinds off presumably agree with me.

Second, I am also skeptical about the SAT renorming. One would expect the admissions office to have done a couple years of converting one type of score into the other, since kids would have been applying with a mixture of scores. So you would not expect the jump to be in the same year as the jump in the scores.

The renorming affected Verbal scores much more than Math scores. So this is consistent with Prof. McPeek finding the jump only in Verbal scores.

http://research.collegeboard.org/programs/sat/data/equivalence/sat-individual

If the jump is not renorming, then where is the jump due to renorming? Renorming affected scores at the top of the range, so there should be a second jump in the means around 1995, if Prof. McPeek is correct.

Third, the comment about Spanish and Art History being the only too fields with A- as the modal grade rather than A is disingenuous. Spanish and Art History are among the easiest grading fields based on median grades. If you give 45% As and 55% A-s, your modal grade is an A-. If you use the 1974 grade distribution in the “Sliding Dartmouth Grades” slide, your modal grade is an A (A is modal at 18% because so much more of the grading scale is being used). The median or mean is much more informative, and Prof. McPeek is clearly smart enough to know that!

The biggest whopper in the whole meeting though was the comment that dropping class size minimums from 5 to 2 would affect only 2 classes per year (this I believe came from the Registrar). If you drop the requirement, watch what happens to the mix of classes offered. As was mentioned, doing so would put even more pressure on the departments offering classes that large numbers of students are interested in.

The great thing about putting some data up though is that we can have this discussion. The report was a very valuable first step, even if some of the conclusions are not well supported.

After my post summarizing Bio Professor Mark McPeek’s exposition of grade inflation at the College, I received numerous letters critical of the following graph, and the comment that I attached to it. I wrote:

McPeek noted no correlation between the increase in grades and the average SAT scores of Dartmouth students (which he used as a proxy for increasing intelligence) — which jumped substantially in an early year of the Freedman administration, with no proportionately corresponding change in grades at that time:

McPeek Grade Inflation SAT scores.jpg

One reader wrote me the following:

I was interested in today’s item at Dartblog about the presentation on grade inflation. With regard to the large jump in SAT scores at one point during the Freedman years, I was wondering if that might have been a result of the SAT re-centering that occurred in the early 1990s.

I’ll never forget how they re-centered the SATs, and then a year or two later, all sorts of gullible journalists started publishing stories about how great it was that SAT scores had gone up so much nationally.

And another sent me a link to a NYT story about the SAT “re-centering” (a PR term meaning “inflating”).

But Professor McPeek is not without his resources, and I went back and listened to exactly what he said about the above graph during his presentation at the faculty meeting:

The first one [explanation for grade inflation] you hear is that our students are getting better over time. So what kind of data could you get? Well, we went and looked at the SAT scores from the Admissions office. Nationally SAT scores are perfectly flat in the United States. Dartmouth does have an increasing trend for higher SAT scores of incoming students. Now when you just look at the Dartmouth data, yes there is this increasing trend, but if you notice in 1993, the Class of 1993, there’s this huge increase. That is not due to the SAT’s being re-adjusted because that happened in 1995. The Admissions office decided that they needed to kick up the SAT scores. So in one year they increased the SAT scores by 88 points, and they changed the SAT of the incoming freshmen at Dartmouth in that one year as much as happened in the other 41 years that we have data for. Now, if SAT scores explain grades, this is what our GPA should look like. But remember I showed you this graph,McPeek Grade Inflation rate.jpg and there is no discontinuity whatsoever in the four year that this group of much brighter students were traversing Dartmouth. And you see this nationally. So there a study that actually the SAT Board did of itself. It was published in 1981. They surveyed, they took a set of colleges and looked at the grades of freshmen from 1964 to 1978. Grades were going up, but if you look at the SAT scores of these students, verbal scores were going down, and math scores were completely flat. Getting better students is not an explanation for why grades go up over time. It may be an explanation why our grades are higher than other institutions at any point in time, but it has no explanatory power for why our grades are going up.

I then raised the point via e-mail directly with the good professor (actually I am beginning to think that he is very, very good), and he replied thusly:

Joe,

Right, the SAT recalibration was done starting on the April 1995 SAT exam (I said this during the talk - weren’t you listening?? ;-) ). The big jump for the incoming Dartmouth students were for the admitted class of 1993, so they would have taken their SAT tests no later than Feb 1993. Moreover, what I didn’t show was that the major jump in Dartmouth SAT scores associated with the incoming class of 1993 (graduating class of 1997), was due COMPLETELY to an 88 point increase in the average of the Verbal SAT scores, whereas the Math SAT scores for the incoming Dartmouth students didn’t change at all (outside the normal residuals around the line) that year.

Moreover, we follow national SAT trends more than I said in the talk. The Combined Verbal+Math SAT average nationally is flat, but that’s because Verbal scores have been falling nationally and Math scores have been rising nationally (see attached data that you can get too from the College Board website, which is my source for these data). Incoming classes of Dartmouth students have rising Math SAT scores that follow the national trend well since 1983 (which is as far back as I can go at Dartmouth) and no discontinuity at all in 1993, but where we deviate is in Verbal Scores. Dartmouth incoming students have a shallower increase in Verbal SAT scores than their Math scores, with an 88 point discontinuity in 1993. Dartmouth students buck the national trend in having a shallow rise in Verbal SAT scores, whereas the national trend is for declining Verbal SAT scores.

Also, there is no bump whatsoever outside of the normal variance around the lines for verbal or math SAT scores in the Dartmouth data associated with the recalibration of SAT scores (which actually wouldn’t have showed up in the data until the incoming class of 1996 anyway, since it was first applied to the April 1995 SAT exam). The Admissions office apparently didn’t pay attention to the recalibration.

Hope that helps,

Mark

I hope that helps my correspondents, too. I continue to receive correspondence on this question.

McPeek Pease Comp.jpg

I would be remiss in recounting events at Monday’s faculty meeting if I did not describe the event-ending exchange between English Professor Don Pease and Biology Professor Mark McPeek, following on McPeek’s detailed analysis of grade inflation. Needless to say, at least for today’s undergrads, any comment about grading by “EasyPeasy” Pease is bound to elicit a knowing smile. Alas, no transcript of Pease’s remarks can properly communicate the self-regarding theatricality of one of his faculty meeting speeches. Read on:

Pease: I think that this is a really good conversation, but it makes me feel even more powerfully why the word “rigor” really needs to be qualified. The suggestions that you are making about how to have conversation among faculty around changes in incentives for the distribution of grades without the context of the philosophy of teaching, the way of producing in a class in which students have no interest in the subject, seems to me to generate a very grim and deaden, frankly, context for conversation across divisions and within departments. If grades separable from philosophy of teaching, liberal arts and understanding of what’s meant by liberal arts education, if that isolated context becomes the basis for the conversation with deans, and conversation with colleagues, I see the impoverishment of conversation across the board in the name of producing good conscience for some faculty. I’d like to have a rich conversation in which perhaps we even look at what we mean by grades. You’re going to a description of the way in which grades got sorted in the ORC. You say most faculty haven’t even looked at it. You haven’t asked the question: do most faculty agree with that particular apportionment? There’s a whole world of conversation that this mode of restricted accountability and assessment leaves out. Unless we have that rich, robust, vital conversation, I think that this report, produced in very good conscience, can have a deleterious effect.

McPeek: I think that my response would be, Don, it seems to me you haven’t heard anything we’ve said.

Pease: I’ve heard everything you said, including the subtext.

McPeek: What we’re talking about is the conversation, is the most important thing. It’s about what you want to go on in your class, and every class is going to be different, and it’s basically about how do you teach in your class, what’s important. And so I have no idea what you’re talking about.

What to say? In a very real way, we have here a conflict between the Humanities and the Sciences, between the limitations of data and the desire to move forward in a concrete way in the world. Pease bloviates — he uses the word “conversation” nine times in his 2:16-long peroration — and yet he seems to suggest little more than a desire to engage in a theoretical/philosophical conversation on the meaning of grades. McPeek, the scientist, has put forward a specific set of proposals, but Pease, the humanist, wants to chat ever more broadly about the entire subject. Here be dragons, or at least a recipe for institutional immobility.

As to what Pease meant about “a class in which students have no interest in the subject” — your guess is as good as mine.

Addendum: As an added treat, Dartblog offers a transcript of Pease’s 5:09-long opening remarks at the same meeting:

I think, too, that it was a great report, and having these reports every twenty years is crucial to the reflectivity of the faculty. I have a comment about one area of the report and a quibble about a word, a rhetorical word, as a matter of rhetoric. The first has to do with the role that reflection would play in the organization of the undergraduate’s curriculum and project as a whole. There’s a suggestion that there’s an unsurveilled aspect of undergraduate experience and that it’s important to turn sophomore year, which is relatively unsupervised, into an opportunity to add reflection to that particular year. I really admire both the criteria that are at work in insisting upon adding a dimension, call it metacognitive, of reflection to the organization of the undergraduate’s career. But throughout the report there are two virtues of a liberal arts education that are constantly reiterated: breadth and depth, focus and flexibility. These seem to me to be the chief virtues of the liberal arts; they’re liberating arts. One of the opportunities for undergraduates to discover capabilities, can-dos, skills, that they did not know they had, is to be able to walk into a classroom unsupervised, a classroom that no one suggested they enter, and discover, ‘Hey, I have really awakened in myself a capability that I didn’t know I had, that I wouldn’t have had, had I not accidentally entered into that classroom.’ That’s a matter of curiosity, and it’s a matter that is related to flexibility, and it’s a matter that is also, I think, crucially related to giving, and this is what the liberal arts really refers to, the freedom of discovery and education for one’s self. I would encourage in the sophomore year students to have as many roads not taken as possible to enable them to realize, perhaps after they’ve taken the road that they didn’t know they were going to take, that they can produce reflexively a way to turn that capability into one of the great virtues of the liberating arts.

The second point has to do with the use of the word “rigor” in the report. The word rigor refers to a virtue of the body that most usually appears when the body is to undergo its culminating experience. It is not a matter, as I understand, to be crucial in the liberating arts. It may be perhaps what your member is presently experiencing [laughter]. I want to suggest that the report itself in its preamble uses the word “rigor”; the word rigor does not appear again in the report until description of what the culminating experience should be. I think the report unconsciously linked rigor with the real culminating experience to demonstrate rigor mortis. Why not use the word “challenging”? Why not use the word “vigorous”? Why not suggest to students, if you want to encourage not to have the “work hard, play hard” ethos, and even work harder and don’t play at all, or work harder and die, which may be the message. Now, what I want to suggest is there’s a dimension of this report, the learning and living, experiential learning, the whole initiative of the institution to turn experience outside the classroom into an occasion for discovery is not folded into any of the recommendations. I think that missing component of the report is missing the whole context for moving Dartmouth forward and needs to be folded in along with the sense that learning can be a form of enjoyment. It can be a form of play that is creative. The virtues of discovery need not to be restricted to the constraining force of rigor. That’s a rhetorical point.

Note again Pease’s desire to engage in an expansive discussion — “the whole initiative of the institution to turn experience outside the classroom into an occasion for discovery” — one far beyond the issue at hand, rather then arrive at a constructive conclusion upon which actions can be taken.

Professor Frank Magilligan did not respond to Pease’s remarks; he just invited another professor to ask a question.

Pease is famous for such off-the-cuff orations. However few people in the past have had the courage to observe, as Mark McPeek did, that they are incoherent. Sure Pease’s speeches are filled with humor, sound and fury — but do they signify anything?

Addendum: I earned a B+ in Pease’s English 5 class in the fall of 1975. To my 17-year-old eyes he seemed more rigorous then than he was at the faculty meeting the other day.

The women’s tennis team has received its first-ever NCAA bid. The team, currently ranked 31st in the nation, will play William & Mary, which is ranked 51st, on May 8th.

Women's Tennis 2015.jpg

Things are looking up. Read the Athletics Department press release here.

Justin Anderson.jpgAfter the precipitous and unexplained departure of Vice President for Communications Tommy Bruce in November of last year, the position has been open for the past six months. During that time College spokesman Justin Anderson has served as the Interim VP. Today Phil named him to the VP position. Anderson has been in town since 2011, and when Phil first sought a VP for Communications, he did not choose Justin. On the second time around, he has done so. What to make of this? Justin is a nice guy, but I fear that the Hanlon administration is falling into the habit that beset the Wright administration: hire the second-in-command to replace the top dog. That strategy brought us Dean of Admissions Maria Laskaris ‘84 in 2007, and more recently led to the equally regrettable hiring of Inge-Lise Ameer for what is effectively the Dean of the College position. To my mind, one wants to hire experienced people for senior positions, rather than folks who are stepping up to a job that they have never done. But perhaps the College’s PR situation is so strong that we don’t really need someone who has seen it all before?

It was the best of meetings and the worst: there was fumbling, data-free pontificating about a subject that had been covered equally shallowly for decades and, also, thoughtful, logical exposition that both advanced an argument and responded to counter-arguments from the floor before they were voiced.

First off was the Curricular Review Committee’s exposition on distributive requirements — a subject that self-admittedly comes up every generation or so. This time around the pendulum was swinging toward fewer constraints on student choice, after the last revision in 1991 had obliged students to navigate a labyrinth of rules and restrictions. Everyone was having a jolly time until Professor of Anthropology Deborah Nichols, seemingly a non-reader of Dartblog, advanced the same argument that I had adduced in this space that very morning. She stated in her remarks:

It would be great, though, if at some point we institute some kind of measures for the success of these things [distributive requirements] since we’ve now gone from one to the other and back again. Maybe since we are an educational institution, we could do some research and know something about the patterns from the course selection of our students and whether any of this makes a lot of difference or not. [Emphasis added]

Ouch. By the standards of faculty meetings where collegiality is prized over all other values, including coherence and logic, Professor Nichols’ was an acid comment.

Of course, the other amusing aspect of the Committee’s proposals was that in my day, distributives consisted of English 5, Freshman Seminar, the language requirement, and four course each in the Humanities, the Sciences and the Social Sciences divisions. Plus ├ža change.

But on to more meaty topics: in this instance a presentation about grade inflation by Professor of Biology Mark McPeek that recalled for the audience that research and preparation lead to progress. McPeek reviewed the current state of grading at Dartmouth, advocated a specific strategy for change, and then addressed and shot down with solid data the varied misconceptions about grading under which many faculty members have labored for years.

McPeek began his review by noting the steady rise in median grades at the College — and he concludes as this space did on March 1, 2014, that if present trends continue, in another fifty or so years, all Dartmouth graduates will be valedictorians:

McPeek Grade Inflation rate.jpg

He observed that the number of A and A- grades accorded to Dartmouth students had almost doubled in the last 40 years:

McPeek Grade Inflation A A-.jpg

And the rate of increase has been fairly constant across academic divisions:

McPeek Grade Inflation Across Divisions.jpg

McPeek noted no correlation between the increase in grades and the average SAT scores of Dartmouth students (which he used as a proxy for increasing intelligence) — which jumped substantially in an early year of the Freedman administration, with no proportionately corresponding change in grades at that time:

McPeek Grade Inflation SAT scores.jpg

McPeek then responded to a series of arguments about why faculty feel compelled to offer inflated grades. He observed firstly that enrollments in all departments at Dartmouth (with the exception of Economics) followed national trends, and had little to do with steps taken by the faculty in Hanover:

McPeek Grade Inflation Enrollment.jpg

And that tighter grading will not hurt the chances of admission for Dartmouth students applying to medical schools:

McPeek Grade Inflation Med School Applications.jpg

McPeek Grade Inflation Med School Applications1.jpg

He also noted an inverse correlation between a student’s expected grade and the amount of work done in a course: the higher the expected grade, the less time spent on out-of-class work:

McPeek Grade Inflation Expectations v Work.jpg

McPeek made various other arguments relating to pressure on faculty to grade more leniently, and he concluded with a notion radical in its simplicity: professors should grade students’ work based on the ORC’s scholarship grade rankings established in 1973-4:

McPeek Grade Inflation Conclusion.jpg

All in all, McPeek showed the assembled faculty what thorough analysis and muscular scholarship is all about. Bravo. When his full presentation is on-line, I’ll publish the link.

Addendum: Valley News reporter Rob Wolfe ‘12 did a fine job in yesterday’s paper of summarizing the logical flow of Mark McPeek’s presentation on grade inflation.

TURN TO PAGE TWO


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