August 29th 2011

Everyone is above average these days

An infographic about grade inflation, a pretty universal reality in Western universities as insititutions — despite an ambiguous rhetoric of ‘excellence’ — create pressures for higher grades.

Short of putting direct pressure on professors (as it happens in the countries where class averages are taken into account in performance evaluations), sometimes the curricula are designed in a way that encourages low standards; and the system is designed to make it hard to fail students (giving the students lots of second opportunities not to, having the professor go through a bureaucracy to fail a student, etc). That said, while not being fanatical about it, I know the bell curve tends to be a fact of life, so I’m almost always going to give out a lot more ‘B’s and ‘C’s. ‘A’s should really be exceptional.