Volume 94, Issue 88

Thursday, March 8, 2001


U of A gunman apprehended

USC ups fees in proposed budget

Highschoolers don't make the literacy grade

Study says exit grades aren't all that

New degree to build better execs


Corroded Disorder

Study says exit grades aren't all that

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

The value of a grade is slipping at universities in Ontario, according to a recent study done at the University of Windsor.

The study, released this week, reported significant inflation in the grading results at universities over time. The research, done by Windsor economic professors Ronald Meng and Paul Anglin, averaged final grades from the school years of 1973-74 and 1993-94 for 80 courses from 12 different departments.

According to Meng, English has had the highest degree of grade inflation followed by biology and the arts, while economics, math, and sociology have had little to no change.

"I was surprised by the difference in the grade inflation of some departments compared to others," Meng said, while noting subjective courses do have a greater risk of inflation.

Meng said the grade inflation may be the result of universities subconsciously wanting to increase their prestige.

"I think, to be frank, there's been a real squeeze and real competition for students among all the universities," he said.

However, the results of the study have been criticized by members of the University community, including the president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Tom Booth.

"That sample's pretty small and based on only two points in time. [It can't] make sweeping generalizations about grade changing over the years," Booth said. "I've been teaching for 28 years and I know how much marks of changed. It's not a hell of a lot."

Booth said he was very skeptical that any study on grade inflation could ever produce useful results. "I don't know if you can study it properly, it's a very complicated area," Booth said.

He added comparing marks between two eras is bound to produce skewed results because the way students are graded, has changed significantly since 1973.

"Students are better now than they've ever been," he said. "Back then we didn't even know the structure of DNA."

Meng said the findings were accurate and dismissed Booth's comments.

"If the marking has changed so much, why are grades in courses such as biology and math the same, and the arts inflated?" Meng asked.

Allan Gedalof, an English professor at Western for 29 years, said he has noticed a slight rise in marks, but nothing outrageous.

"In English, one of the things that might have changed is the upper grade of the grade scale," he said. "I remember as an undergrad getting anything over an 80 was an good mark, while now 90s are given on a regular basis."

Gedalof said a conscious decision was made over time to increase the high level marks English students receive, so their grades are comparable to their peers in other disciplines, and have an equal opportunity to compete for scholarships and other academic opportunities.

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