Dartmouth's Daily Blog
News, commentary, criticism and praise for the College on the Hill, enlivened with history, culture and travel when we feel so moved.
This is an archived post. Please click here to see the latest entries.
Hard Dartmouth Soft Dartmouth
Here’s a chart that gives one pause. It was prepared for this space a while back by a thoughtful undergrad with a taste for figures. The College’s most popular departments are the ones giving out the lowest grades (and I’ve been told that Econ has recently tightened things up even more):
From the looks of things, the departments that students feel are relevant (pre-med/law/b-school track?) are tough graders, and the Humanities (who have no greater supporter than your humble servant, despite the fact that too many faculty members have lost their way) feel the need to entice students with easy A’s.
Perhaps the administration could work on this problem, rather than building silly community houses.
Addendum: The College leads the Ivies in inflating grades over recent decades:
However, as a report from Grade Inflation.com observes:
It’s worth noting that Dartmouth and Duke are in the upper right corner of this chart not because their grades are high relative to similar institutions today, but because their grades were low in 1960.
The College was once a tough place, too.
Erratum: Government Professor John Carey (a subject of Dartblog’s Guide to the Stars) writes in with a correction:
I agree that the chart plotting enrollments against average median grades by departments/programs is interesting. However, it was not “prepared for this space a while back by a thoughtful undergrad with a taste for figures.” It was produced by a thoughtful undergrad, Zachary Markovich ‘15, enrolled in the course Data Visualization (GOV16/QSS17) in Spring 2015. The course is taught by GOV Professor Yusaku Horiuchi. As one of the requirements for the course, students find primary source data and produce original analyses centered around graphical representations. Professor Horiuchi enlists colleagues to assess the best representations and select those that warrant special recognition - which is why I recognize this graph. Note that the version of the graph you have printed has part of a laurel wreath in the upper right-hand corner. The graphs from GOV16/QSS17 are on display in Silsby and the ones that earned special recognition have the little laurels on them, which suggests that Dartblog’s reporter probably photographed a graph from the display. That is fine — it’s a nice graph on an important topic — but the original source should be accurately reported.
Addendum: Zach Markovich ‘15, who prepared the graph at the start of this post, writes in with a comment:
Although it’s definitely possible that “soft” departments give higher grades to attract students away from more lucrative majors, I think there other explanations of the trend as well. It’s equally plausible that students without an aptitude or passion for the subject matter quickly abandon less career relevant majors when they get low grades in their first classes but stick it out in the “hard” majors because they think they’ll ultimately be rewarded for it even though they received poor grades. The ultimate result is that the distribution of grades across majors looks the same, but for a very different reason. A good example of this effect might be classics, which had a reputation for giving very harsh grades, even though it’s grade distribution is middle of the pack. My best guess is that the trend in the graph is a combination of both these factors. For readers interested in the confounding effect of student sorting between majors on observed grade inflation, I’ve written a paper on this subject with Dartmouth Goverment professor Michael Herron that they can find here.
August 14, 2013
Breaking: Of Crips and Bloods and Memories of Ghetto Parties
History repeats itself, first as tragedy and then as farce, or sometimes it just repeats itself. From the New York Times on November 30, 1998: At Dartmouth College, white students at a ”ghetto party” dressed…
June 25, 2013
Dean of the College Charlotte Johnson’s War on Students Part (2/2)
Part 1, Part 2 Today’s post again recounts the events that befell the Freshman. However, the content of the Hanover Police department report reproduced in this space yesterday is supplemented by information from my own…
October 18, 2009
When Love Beckoned in 52nd Street
We were at San Francisco’s BIX last evening, enjoying prosecco, cheese, and a bit of music. A full year of inhabitation in Northern California has unraveled to me no decent venue for proper lounging, but…
October 9, 2009
D Afraid of a Little Competish
So our colleague and Dartblog writer Joe Asch informed me that the D has rejected our cunning advertising campaign. Uh-oh. The Dartmouth is widely known as a breeding ground for instant New York Times successes,…
September 4, 2009
How Regents Should Reign
As Dartmouth alumni proceed through the legal hoops necessary to defuse a Board-packing plan—which put in unhappy desuetude an historic 1891 Agreement between alumni and the College guaranteeing a half-democratically-elected Board of Trustees—it strikes one…
August 29, 2009
Election Reform Study Committee
If you are an alum of the College on the Hill, you may have received a number of e-mails of late beseeching your input for a new arm of the College’s Alumni Control Apparatus called…
- The Dartmouth College Case
- 2007 Trustee Election
- Dartmouth Constitution
- Sunday Morning Sinatra
- The Indian Wars
Subscribe by Email
This website reflects the personal opinions of its authors. Any e-mails received may be published along with the full name of the sender. If you wish otherwise, please say so.
All content appearing at Dartblog.com should be presumed copyright 2004-2018 its respective bylined author unless otherwise noted or unless linked to original source.