There is a story in the 12 March 2009 issue of the Chronicles of Higher Education building on the research presented at GradeInflation.com showing that post-secondary grades have risen steadily since 1991.
I don’t have any research behind what I’m about to say (so what’s new?) but my experience has been that students come to us and often go through shock when they get here. They’ve been coddled and told their entire lives how wonderful they are. They’ve been rewarded for mediocre work. it’s not that they’re not bright. Not at all. They’re very bright but they’re not very well educated.
At the same time grade averages have risen I’ve had to spend an increasing proportion of time in class explaining how to execute basic academic tasks. Years ago I realized that I had to start explaining explicitly how to research and write a term paper. I had to define “reading.” Now I’ve added a talk about how to take notes and this comes after our course on “Graduate Writing.”
Students have been told repeatedly, prior to WSC, that their subjective “learning experience” is the most valuable thing about their education. They have been told that they get to decide what they should learn and they’ve been told that they get to decide what learning is. It is a shock for them to learn that there is an objective standard for learning and that someone else gets to decide what counts as success.
Our faculty has talked several times about the problem of grade inflation. This study explains our experience and confirms our suspicions. Not only are the primary and secondary educational systems broken, but the post-secondary system of out whack too.