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Gentleman’s A’s

The D summarized grade inflation at the College yesterday, a topic that was discussed at the faculty meeting in the afternoon:

Grade Inflation.jpg

Close to two thirds of Dartmouth classes have median grades of A- or higher.

Almost two years ago, Dartblog’s Brian Solomon looked at grade inflation in a five-part series. Among other aspects of the problem, he reviewed each academic department’s grading:

Grade Inflation by Department.jpg

Now you know why they call them the “hard” sciences.

Addendum: Look at how tough grading is in Economics (fourth from the bottom). The fact that Dartmouth’s most popular department doesn’t give it away proves that some students still have a taste for work.

Addendum: A recent alum who knows how to do research has a comment:

I’ve been a reader of Dartblog since my senior year, and I check it every day to keep up with the “current state of things in Hanover”. Thanks for the valuable insight! You mentioned in the grade inflation piece that Economics is one of the most popular majors, despite being one of the most difficult out of the ~50 possible ones.

Guess which professors tend to win the most faculty awards (about ten are awarded each year)? Pretty clear pattern to me, though I only looked at 2010-2012. A disproportionately high number go to professors who teach in the “difficult” departments. Here’s a list of winning departments:

2012: Engineering, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Biological Sciences (x2), Spanish, Classical Studies, Native American Studies, Government

2011: History (x3), Mathematics, Biological Sciences, Spanish, Physics and Astronomy, Russian, English (x2), Psychology

2010: Computer Science, Physics and Astronomy, Art History, African-American Studies, Education, Writing, Psychology, Chemistry, History, Government

These awards are determined by the Dean’s office, though. Do we have a metric to look at student opinion? Why, yes! The last ten faculty members who have won the Jerome Goldstein Award for Distinguished Teaching (voted on by the graduating class) teach in the following departments:

2013: David Lagomarsino, History (16th)
2012: Vicki May, Engineering (11th)
2011: Pamela Crossley, History (16th)
2010: Lucas Swaine, Government (8th)
2009: Andrew Garrod, Education (21st)
2008: John Rassias, French (37th)
2007: Annelise Orleck, History (16th)
2006: Edward Bradley, Classical Studies (10th)
2005: David Lagomarsino, History (again!) (16th)
2004: Kenneth Shewmaker, History (16th)

Is it a coincidence that nearly all of these are in the top third of department difficulty? I think not — but I didn’t account for relative numbers of students majoring in the subject. There sure are a lot of difficult courses being offered at Dartmouth. While we might be losing faith in the Dartmouth bureaucracy, we should not be losing faith in Dartmouth students. They didn’t come to the College to take easy classes; they came for a challenging education. I know I sure got one.

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