Most frequent mark given at Harvard is a perfect A

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by bruno, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Welcome to Lake Woebegone "Where all the women are strong , the men are good looking and the children are above average"

    http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/12/04/harvard-grade-inflation
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Sounds a little like grad school too.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    I'm sure professor Mansfield's approach accomplishes a hell of a lot! How the hell does "You really deserve a C but I'm putting an A in your transcript" accomplish a hill of beans? :rolleyes:
     
  4. Bullet

    Bullet Member

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    Because most of these kids have been told they're "special snowflakes" from the day they've been potty trained. To let them know that life doesn't grade on a curve now would most likely force Harvard to increase the size of their suicide prevention unit.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Mickey-goodman/are-we-raising-a-generati_b_1249706.html

    Not that the kids here are this way. Wanting to lead and do something with your life by serving your country gives them a pass from the labels applied to most of their peers in my book.
     
  5. HMQ

    HMQ Member

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    And I think this speaks to the serious issue of why the U.S. is seeing its students' education falling short on the world stage. When A's don't really mean A-quality achievement and all are raised to believe they are special and superior, there is little motivation to set goals higher. (Now, obviously, this doesn't apply to our kids, I know we all taught them the value of hard work :thumb:)

    I find this a worrisome subject that we, as a country, need to address.

    Related, this from the NYT just a couple of days ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/e...tandardized-tests.html?ref=education&_r=0 American 15-Year-Olds Lag, Mainly in Math, on International Standardized Tests
     
  6. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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  7. NMMI PREP DIRECTOR

    NMMI PREP DIRECTOR Member

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    Not Just Harvard

    Couldn't help but comment on this one. After 16 years here at NMMI I've watched the consistant slow decline in performance of college freshmen. This was counterbalanced by a an increasing expection of "being given" good grades. It got so bad that several years ago we mandated a class called College First Year Experience to help them learn the study skills they should have developed years earlier. I also teach this course.

    Every August when we bring a new batch in I say something to the effect of, "Not one instructor here is going to give you a grade for any of your classes." I wait for the reaction and continue with, "You are given nothing, you will earn every grade you receive."

    Quite a shock for some of these kids.
     
  8. SamAca10

    SamAca10 Ensign - DWO

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    Wow interesting read for sure. I certainly don't have as stellar of a gpa as I had in high school here, but I think that's for the better because it's allowed me to really see what I'm strong in and what I'm weak in.

    The air or sea is apathetic and will punish you for not knowing your stuff...I think it's better for us to experience failure as cadets and learn from it rather than when we're officers and leading people/flying planes/driving boats.
     
  9. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The Sea Yields to Knowledge! :wink:
     
  10. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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  11. Day-Tripper

    Day-Tripper Member

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    Harvard

    Greetings!

    I have a brother-in-law who is a locksmith at Harvard College in Cambridge.

    Main job? Helping drunk students who've locked themselves out of their dorm rooms.

    No kidding.

    He says they are usually well-mannered and well-behaved young people.

    Unlike the drunken Cossack behavior so frequent at Northeastern, Boston University and Boston College.

    I don't think drink at all at MIT.

    Regards,
    Day-Tripper
     
  12. LongAgoPlebe

    LongAgoPlebe Member

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    As someone who works on assessment and learning in higher ed, this - grade inflation and snowflakery - is something I deal with all the time. Couple of things that haven't yet been raised.

    1. Grades are, at best, an incomplete measure of learning (and sometimes - too often, if you ask me - a complete MISmeasure of learning). Just so I'm clear, here are scenarios. I assisted a colleague in making his course more student-centered, which sounds touchy-feely, but all it means is that we use data and evidence to tell us whether our students are learning, and how much. Student-centered instead of instructor-centered - that's the model a lot of us grew up with - sage on a stage, instructor droning while students do nothing but take notes - still with me? Anyway, what my colleague found out from using a variety of other measures was that the A students in his class didn't really know much more than the C students - they were just better test-takers. In fact A students still left his course with some really major misconceptions about their subject. Over the span of four years, he and others at my uni have reformed their courses so that their assessments - quizzes, tests, projects, papers - are much better at telling both students and instructors whether their students have learned anything, and what they've learned. Ironically, his DFW rate (rate of Ds, Fs, and withdrawals from the course) have dropped from ~45% in his introductory course, to ~17%. (Forty-five percent is educational malpractice if you ask me.) Meanwhile, more than half his students earn - EARN - B-minus or better. Typically 20% earn As or A-minuses. His students are more likely to persist as STEM majors, too. This is in an introductory large-enrollment science course that's a feeder for all STEM majors, and because it's used by ABET in their engineering program accreditation, he must still demonstrate that his students are learning what the institution and ABET expect. He can do this in spades.

    2. I've been doing this "merely" ten years - much less time than MAJ Hanak. Still, in those ten years I've seen the snowflakery increase exponentially while skills like staying on task, persevering with difficult problems, focusing on ONE thing at a time, self-motivation, and follow-through have declined precipitously. That's the legacy of NCLB: teaching to the lowest common denominator instead of pulling the entire population along, deadfully boring drill-and-kill test prep for assessments that don't measure what we really want from our students and poorly measure what it is they've learned or not learned. There are studies beginning to emerge about the specific failures of NCLB for almost everyone. Suffice to say that the freshman year of college is fast turning into a crash course on how learning works in the REAL world, kiddos, and it ain't pretty. These insufficient life and learning skills are NOT restricted to the average and below-average students, either. In fact (anecdata now) I see "smarter" kids having the laziest attitudes, which makes sense if you think about it - if you're smart, and it's always been "good enough," why push yourself?

    Alas, Harvard is just a symptom of how dis-associated grades are from actual learning. But there are people like me, at many institutions, who are working on how to motivate our students, prepare them soundly for STEM professions and to participate as citizens in a world where we have some very difficult decisions to make as communities and societies.
     

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