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(Quartz)   On grade inflation at the Ivy League: one student once cornered me and said: "I hope you're happy you've destroyed my chance at Goldman and ruined my life"   (qz.com) divider line 310
    More: Fail, Ivy League, grade inflation, Goldman, teaching assistant, collective action, graduate students  
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12470 clicks; posted to Main » on 13 Dec 2013 at 1:54 PM (40 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-12-13 12:04:34 PM
One less investment banker? I'd be overjoyed.
 
2013-12-13 12:07:23 PM
If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.
 
2013-12-13 12:09:27 PM
I hope the response was to immediately stab that student in the face.
 
2013-12-13 12:11:10 PM
"Well, you could always pitch your business ideas on...the Shark Tank!" <presses trap door button>
 
2013-12-13 12:14:19 PM
Dude, go all Galt on the system. That will show them.
 
2013-12-13 12:17:23 PM

simplicimus: One less investment banker? I'd be overjoyed.


It would help explain the shiatshow we're currently witnessing from Wall Street.

A bunch of farking C- idiots who think they're all A+
 
2013-12-13 12:18:20 PM

Therion: I hope the response was to immediately stab that student in the face.


I'd go with machete through the heart. Doing that in a room full of Ivy league sociopaths would totally be worth going to jail for life. Blood splattering everywhere, little snowflakes running for the exits, forever wondering maybe the next time they do something similar?

No, I'm fine, why do you ask? Come on dude, it's Friday the 13th.
 
2013-12-13 12:19:20 PM
One student once cornered me and said: "I hope you're happy you've destroyed my chance at Goldman and ruined my life."


Quite happy, thanks for asking.  Also, be a dear and super-size those fries.
 
2013-12-13 12:23:09 PM

Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.


Which is why I refused to grade inflate.  I got in all kinds of trouble over it, too - but no.  If I had assigned a paper covering 3 points and you only hit two of them, the best you could do was a 70.  You got a 0 for the third one.  And if you couldn't write coherently, that last 10 points might be taken, too.  Plagiarism got you a 0 and a report to the Dean and Honor Board.  Every semester, the Dean's office would overturn me on a plagiarism charge.  Every. Single. Time.  Always for an out-of-state or foreign, full-tuition-paying, idiot.

Eventually, I gave up teaching.  Dealing with that crap was not worth it for the money.
 
2013-12-13 12:26:28 PM

Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.


That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.
 
2013-12-13 12:27:15 PM
I'd love to be a guidance councilor at one of those schools. I bet you could get one of those wound up nut cases crying and quitting school within the hour. I'd also start a manual labour program for people who flunk out after their first year. If they work for the university for a year, the cost and credit for that flunk year is gone and they are welcome to start again fresh. Work with a guy named "Jake 3 fingers" (it's a lie, he as 3.5 fingers) at the steam plant and see how the other side lives.
 
2013-12-13 12:30:40 PM

Rincewind53: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.


You don't know many people who have gone to Harvard, do you?
 
2013-12-13 12:32:22 PM

Mangoose: Rincewind53: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.

You don't know many people who have gone to Harvard, do you?


I do. Your normal fair share of assholes and slackers and brilliant people.

But it's a silly argument that the median student at Harvard isn't a better student than the median student at a random community college.
 
2013-12-13 12:32:39 PM

bdub77: Therion: I hope the response was to immediately stab that student in the face.

I'd go with machete through the heart. Doing that in a room full of Ivy league sociopaths would totally be worth going to jail for life. Blood splattering everywhere, little snowflakes running for the exits, forever wondering maybe the next time they do something similar?

No, I'm fine, why do you ask? Come on dude, it's Friday the 13th.


Newsletter, subscription, etc.
 
2013-12-13 12:34:49 PM

Therion: I hope the response was to immediately stab that student in the face.


I hope it's this
24.media.tumblr.com
 
2013-12-13 12:35:57 PM

Rincewind53: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.


One would also imagine they are better/scholastically more rigorous schools. However, Dartmouth's own studies demonstrate they aren't.
 
2013-12-13 12:36:32 PM

Rincewind53: Mangoose: Rincewind53: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.

You don't know many people who have gone to Harvard, do you?

I do. Your normal fair share of assholes and slackers and brilliant people.

But it's a silly argument that the median student at Harvard isn't a better student than the median student at a random community college.


In that a Harvard student is more likely to come from a well-off family and had better than average pre-college educational opportunities, maybe.
 
2013-12-13 12:38:00 PM

simplicimus: In that a Harvard student is more likely to come from a well-off family and had better than average pre-college educational opportunities, maybe.


Oh sure! Notice that I didn't say  smarter.Just a better student.
 
2013-12-13 12:40:02 PM

FloydA: One student once cornered me and said: "I hope you're happy you've destroyed my chance at Goldman and ruined my life."


Quite happy, thanks for asking.  Also, be a dear and super-size those fries.


This isn't State U we're talking about here. Failures at Columbia might not be able to get jobs at Goldman, but they don't end up at Starbucks or McDonalds, either. Most likely, this guy will end up at Citibank or BofA, and spend the rest of his life trying to prove he can steal just as well as the big dogs. You don't want to be someone's customer, who has a chip like that on his shoulder.
 
2013-12-13 12:49:03 PM

Rincewind53: simplicimus: In that a Harvard student is more likely to come from a well-off family and had better than average pre-college educational opportunities, maybe.

Oh sure! Notice that I didn't say  smarter.Just a better student.


Ok, that plays into my cynicism that getting a Bachelors proves that you have the skills required to get a Bachelors. I've got two.
 
2013-12-13 01:03:34 PM
I just didn't want to deal with all the complaining.

Lucky for both of us, I didn't want to deal with some inept factory worker TA, so I went to a pleasantly smaller university on the East coast and was taught by amazing professors with not just PhDs, but they were notably active in their field.

The BA is your Get a Better Job than Below Entry Level ticket.  Getting the BA is the education, and I refuse to be educated by a bunch of knee-biting personal assistants.
 
2013-12-13 01:05:20 PM

Rincewind53: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.


Math.   Feelings. How do numbers make you feel?
 
2013-12-13 01:06:44 PM

thamike: Rincewind53: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.

Math.   Feelings. How do numbers make you feel?


Mauve?
 
2013-12-13 01:06:45 PM

Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.


Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?
 
2013-12-13 01:09:05 PM
It never occurred to me ever to challenge a grade I got in college or grad school. I always assumed that I had failed in my understanding or articulation of an idea and deserved what I got.

That being said, it was well known in grad school that the grades were curved so that a median score was a B.
 
2013-12-13 01:12:06 PM

Rincewind53: thamike: Rincewind53: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

That said, there is an arguable point that the median grade at Harvard should be higher than the median grade at, say, a random community college.

Math.   Feelings. How do numbers make you feel?

Mauve?


A-!
 
2013-12-13 01:12:36 PM

DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?


I find curves incredibly weird conceptually. Like, I understand the idea behind them, but the smaller your classes get the harder it is to pretend that a given set of students will score on anything approaching a bell curve distribution.
 
2013-12-13 01:13:06 PM
We all cared about teaching and fairness. But the real reason so many of us inflate grades is to avoid students complaining. Anything less than an A- would result in endless emails, crying during office hours, or calls from parents

What an utterly spineless worm.

I taught a few classes back in the day, and I delighted in failing the failures.  Their tears were delicious.
 
2013-12-13 01:14:19 PM
Happens in high school, too.  I taught HS English and the last school I taught at was in an upper middle-class suburb where grade-inflation ran rampant.  Instead of the kids and parents crying about teachers destroying dreams of jobs at Goldman, we got the ones screaming about what Ivy League school hopes we just dashed.  I tried to resist the grade inflation.  Like Benevolent Misanthrope, if I you only hit 2 of the 3 points I was looking for in an essay, you got a 66.  Then I'd take off points for grammar, composition, and spelling because it's a farking English class.  I used to get screamed at all. the. time.  Parents threatening lawsuits because I gave a D to their precious snowflake who refused to participate in class, never turned in homework, and barely skated by on tests.  After only a semester, I quit.  Quit the school, quit teaching and never went back.
 
2013-12-13 01:14:57 PM

DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?


Yeah I don't get this either. Even if you grade on a curve, if everyone gets 100% on a test...well, that might mean you're a pretty good teacher. Or your test was too easy on purpose. Knowing college teachers, probably the latter.

Furthermore, not every test is the same. Science vs history, for example. Some tests require you show work and take off points even if the answer is right. Others are multiple choice. Some are fundamentally subjective, like essays.

It's probably even more of a problem when it comes to Ivy leagues where generally speaking most of the kids are pretty damn smart. Maybe at Harvard you've got a few dropouts who got in on daddy's dime or whatever.

Grade inflation exists, but it seems like a multifactoral issue.
 
2013-12-13 01:17:41 PM

brigid_fitch: Happens in high school, too.  I taught HS English and the last school I taught at was in an upper middle-class suburb where grade-inflation ran rampant.  Instead of the kids and parents crying about teachers destroying dreams of jobs at Goldman, we got the ones screaming about what Ivy League school hopes we just dashed.  I tried to resist the grade inflation.  Like Benevolent Misanthrope, if I you only hit 2 of the 3 points I was looking for in an essay, you got a 66.  Then I'd take off points for grammar, composition, and spelling because it's a farking English class.  I used to get screamed at all. the. time.  Parents threatening lawsuits because I gave a D to their precious snowflake who refused to participate in class, never turned in homework, and barely skated by on tests.  After only a semester, I quit.  Quit the school, quit teaching and never went back.


Things have changed a lot in 30 years.  Back in my day you got no sympathy.  But then I was teaching math, where it's a lot easier to defend a failing grade.  Not that I ever had to.
 
2013-12-13 01:18:22 PM

DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?


They should get an A- but that also means the test was too easy.  All grades should fall along a bell curve w/the average being a C, obviously.
 
2013-12-13 01:20:39 PM

brigid_fitch: DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?

They should get an A- but that also means the test was too easy.  All grades should fall along a bell curve w/the average being a C, obviously.


Yeah, but that only applies if the test is A) multiple choice or capable of being assigned a specific numerical score, B) has enough questions to establish a meaningful difference, and C) the students taking the exam are a random sample.

Which just doesn't apply to most classes.
 
2013-12-13 01:22:03 PM

Marcus Aurelius: We all cared about teaching and fairness. But the real reason so many of us inflate grades is to avoid students complaining. Anything less than an A- would result in endless emails, crying during office hours, or calls from parents

What an utterly spineless worm.

I taught a few classes back in the day, and I delighted in failing the failures.  Their tears were delicious.


I forgot  who won Complacent Ineptitude v.  Vindictive Zealotry.
 
2013-12-13 01:24:16 PM

DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?



If they all get 92% on every test, you aren't testing them. You're just asking them easy questions.

Tests are supposed to separate out the students who don't know anything, the students who just vomit up information mentioned in the class, and the students who can take info they've been given and extrapolate it out to cover more difficult concepts.
 
2013-12-13 01:26:12 PM

DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?


Because if they all got 92%, those farkers were cheating and all deserve zeros.
 
2013-12-13 01:26:15 PM

brigid_fitch: They should get an A- but that also means the test was too easy.  All grades should fall along a bell curve w/the average being a C, obviously.


Why? I don't understand this idea. If my goal is to teach you X, and you learn X, that doesn't mean the test was too easy.
 
2013-12-13 01:27:22 PM

Blues_X: Tests are supposed to separate out the students who don't know anything, the students who just vomit up information mentioned in the class, and the students who can take info they've been given and extrapolate it out to cover more difficult concepts.


I thought tests are supposed to test you and see if you've learned the subject. Maybe I'm dumb that way, but when I test you, I test you against the subject matter, not the person sitting next to you. School shouldn't be a competition between students; there's no reason for that.
 
2013-12-13 01:29:11 PM

Blues_X: If they all get 92% on every test, you aren't testing them. You're just asking them easy questions.

Tests are supposed to separate out the students who don't know anything, the students who just vomit up information mentioned in the class, and the students who can take info they've been given and extrapolate it out to cover more difficult concepts.


But, again, that relies on the presumption of a random set of students who fit those stereotypes.

While that works for something large like state or federal testing, unless you're in an intro class with >100 students you're unlikely to get anything approaching a random sample. This is especially true when you move away from intro classes and into any non-required class. In a group of 40 people taking a higher-level lecture class from a well-liked professor, it's highly likely that most of the students will be motivated to do the work and the median grade shouldn't be anywhere near a C.
 
2013-12-13 01:29:18 PM

rumpelstiltskin: DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?

Because if they all got 92%, those farkers were cheating and all deserve zeros.


1.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-12-13 01:32:24 PM
An interesting point I saw made was the idea that what's happening with grade inflation isn't really grade inflation, but actual inflation. The basic idea is that the population keeps growing, but the amount of students at good universities stays the same. That means there's a constantly-growing pool of people for the same amount of slots, and naturally this means that as time goes on, only the more-and-more qualified people are actually getting into these great colleges. Given that dynamic, why wouldn't we expect grade inflation, since the student bodies at these universities keeps getting better and smarter.
 
2013-12-13 01:35:17 PM

brigid_fitch: DamnYankees: Blues_X: If the average grade is A-, then the grades from that school are worthless.

Why is that? If you write a test, and everyone in the class gets 92% of the answers rights, why should they not all get an A-?

They should get an A- but that also means the test was too easy.  All grades should fall along a bell curve w/the average being a C, obviously.


That's true in a large lecture class.  When I was doing 400+ student lectures, we got a pretty normal distribution of grades.  But I've done seminars with fewer than a dozen students, sometimes as few as four or five, and there's no reason to expect a Gaussian curve for those.
 
2013-12-13 01:36:49 PM

brigid_fitch: Happens in high school, too.  I taught HS English and the last school I taught at was in an upper middle-class suburb where grade-inflation ran rampant.  Instead of the kids and parents crying about teachers destroying dreams of jobs at Goldman, we got the ones screaming about what Ivy League school hopes we just dashed.  I tried to resist the grade inflation.  Like Benevolent Misanthrope, if I you only hit 2 of the 3 points I was looking for in an essay, you got a 66.  Then I'd take off points for grammar, composition, and spelling because it's a farking English class.  I used to get screamed at all. the. time.  Parents threatening lawsuits because I gave a D to their precious snowflake who refused to participate in class, never turned in homework, and barely skated by on tests.  After only a semester, I quit.  Quit the school, quit teaching and never went back.


I always hated marking computer science assignments like 'print a list of all leap years between year XXXX and YYYY' or 'implement quick sort' because you either had something that worked or it didn't. If the software fails to run you get 0 and then I will add some points if you were close. If it runs you'll get 100 until I start seeing how you got it then you'll lose points of hacks and poor design. They say there is an infinite number of ways to solve a problem but you got marked down if you took that seriously or were obviously trying to write your way back into reality because of the mistake that was made in the 1st step. I found that marking a serious programming assignment was close to marking a paper... you can look at one and tell pretty quick if it's starting at 100 or 0.

It's also fun when someone copies their friends assignment and doesn't change the name in the comments. Or just changes the variable names from like 'n' to 'x' but keeps the structure the same. Cheating earned you a 0 on the first attempt and an F in the course on the 2nd. 3rd try and you were kicked out of the school and will never be welcomed back. You want to see some pissed off parents you try telling them that their lazy shiftless son cheated and got caught too many times.
 
2013-12-13 01:49:33 PM

Tr0mBoNe: It's also fun when someone copies their friends assignment and doesn't change the name in the comments. Or just changes the variable names from like 'n' to 'x' but keeps the structure the same. Cheating earned you a 0 on the first attempt and an F in the course on the 2nd. 3rd try and you were kicked out of the school and will never be welcomed back. You want to see some pissed off parents you try telling them that their lazy shiftless son cheated and got caught too many times.


In my Comp Sci class in high school a couple of kids got caught literally taking submitted code out of the box where we were supposed to drop it off in, and then typing it back in and reintroducing it as their own.
 
2013-12-13 01:49:55 PM
I did computer instructing for two weeks.

Stupid people get to me. (I drive myself nuts).

I realized it's something I couldn't do.

"OK, click on the icon on your left side of your screen.   The left side.   No.  The left side.   The side of the screen nearest the door.  THE LEFT SIDE.  Screw it, we're moving on"  (Not an exaggeration)
 
2013-12-13 01:52:57 PM
I went to a run of the mill midsized state school. No grade inflation there. Saw plenty of people flunk out. I worked hard for every A that I earned. As a result, I feel I got an excellent education, even if I don't have an ivy-covered degree.
 
2013-12-13 01:58:49 PM

I_Am_Weasel: I did computer instructing for two weeks.

Stupid people get to me. (I drive myself nuts).

I realized it's something I couldn't do.

"OK, click on the icon on your left side of your screen.   The left side.   No.  The left side.   The side of the screen nearest the door.  THE LEFT SIDE.  Screw it, we're moving on"  (Not an exaggeration)


static4.businessinsider.com

"SERIOUSLY, I WILL F*CKING PAY YOU NOT TO TRY MY PRODUCK."
 
2013-12-13 01:59:04 PM
pdubs.org

Life is like that.  Get used to it.
 
2013-12-13 02:00:24 PM

FloydA: One student once cornered me and said: "I hope you're happy you've destroyed my chance at Goldman and ruined my life."


Quite happy, thanks for asking.  Also, be a dear and super-size those fries.


It's still Ivy League so no, they won't be taking retail or food service jobs.  They'll just go into lobbying, politics or some other 2nd tier bank.
 
2013-12-13 02:01:11 PM

Rincewind53: But it's a silly argument that the median student at Harvard isn't a better student than the median student at a random community college.


To me, that's missing the point.  A B student at Harvard should be a much better student, and thus more worthwhile on the job later on, than a B student at Mississippi State.  The work at Harvard should be quite a bit more difficult.  If Harvard gives out an A- as an average, then either they're inflating, or the work isn't any more difficult than anywhere else.  Either way, it makes the Harvard name worth no more than any other school.
 
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