Grade Inflation

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The Collegian recently ran a story on grade inflation at PSU, interviewing several students, administrators and instructors on the topic.  As an instructor, this is something I've struggled with in the past.  Some of my colleagues follow a very balanced approach to grading, making sure they have a nice bell curve of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds in their course sections.  I always found this odd, but it appears that it's not uncommon.  An instructor quoted in the article was put on probation by his department for giving too many As and Bs.  The instructor states:

"There's a tremendous amount of pressure placed on the adjuncts and lecturers and instructors as to what their class's acceptable average GPA shall be,...It's undisclosed, unwritten, extremely subjective and totally discretionary on the part of the hierarchy."

Senate Policy 47-20 deals with course grades and reads they should be allocated "on the basis of the instructor's judgment."

My degree in instructional technology and design really taught me the value of designing good rubrics, that I in turn use for all graded items in my course.  When students undertake one of my assignments, I tell them to grade it themselves before turning it in based on the rubric.  If they cover all rubric items in detail, they should do fine.  I also tend to spend a lot of time out of the classroom, helping students with technology assignments or chatting with students on IM several hours before an assignment is due and they are in a panic.  In the end, many of my students end up with As or Bs, with the occasional Cs and very rare Ds or Fs. 

So my question is this: is this grade inflation or is this good teaching?

Dr. Pangborn, VP of Undergraduate Education, sums it up best:

"It's the quality of the education, not the grade point average so much. that matters in the end"



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