Students expect high grades

Professors admit to pressure from students for higher grades.

Skating by in a given college course should, by definition, award a student a C at the end of the semester, but according to a recent study at the University of California, Irvine, some students now expect higher grades for doing the bare minimum. The study, which appeared in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence in November, found that 40.7 percent of students surveyed said they deserved Bs for completing most of the course readings, and about a third said they should earn a B for attending most of the classes. But, according to the grade policy at the University of Minnesota, if a student simply âÄúmeets the course requirements,âÄù he or she should get a C. To get a B, students must show âÄúachievement significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements.âÄù Allison Goetsch , a University first-year biomedical engineering student, said she expects to receive good grades. âÄúEverything thatâÄôs always come easy, like calc. and any science class, I pretty much just assume IâÄôll get an A in, and if I donâÄôt, IâÄôm really surprised,âÄù Goetsch said. Corporate environmental management senior Sondra Larson, however, agrees with University policy. âÄúIf you do the work, you get a C,âÄù she said. âÄúI think that itâÄôs not that difficult to get a B, to put in the extra effort. If you want it, you should work for it.âÄù In the study, nearly two-thirds of students surveyed said they felt that if they explained to a professor that they were trying hard, the professor should take that into consideration to determine their grade. Brad Dickerman said he thinks effort should count. âÄúI feel like, if I put the work in to actually understand the material, I feel like I deserve better than a C,âÄù the junior chemical engineering student said. The study attributed studentsâÄô sense of academic entitlement to various factors, including parental expectations, competition among students, and personality variables like narcissism and self-esteem. Timothy Brennan, a professor in the UniversityâÄôs cultural studies and comparative literature department, offered another theory. âÄúItâÄôs much more complicated than just students in this generation feeling a certain kind of privilege,âÄù Brennan said, adding that he thinks there is a structural problem within universities. Students, he said, tend to give higher evaluations to professors who grade more easily, and because there is a direct link between teaching evaluation scores and salary, grade inflation has become the norm for many professors. âÄúOn those grounds, the students expect to be graded more highly than they probably deserve,âÄù Brennan said. âÄúAs a practice, I admit that I grade people higher than I think they deserve.âÄù The study acknowledged grade inflation as a possible factor to sense of entitlement, citing a 1999 study that indicated an increase over time in average grades at research universities. âÄúIf students learn that they can get a high grade with minimal effort, we should not be surprised if they develop entitled attitudes,âÄù the study stated. Douglas Lewis , a philosophy professor at the University, said he is aware of the tendency toward grade inflation, but he tries to adhere to the UniversityâÄôs definition that a C is the standard. âÄú[Students] complain,âÄù Lewis said. âÄúItâÄôs pretty well-entrenched that theyâÄôre supposed to get high grades.âÄù Brennan said thereâÄôs simply less work involved for faculty members if they give students the grades they want. âÄúIf you give a high grade, they donâÄôt complain,âÄù he said. Lewis said instead of raising a studentâÄôs grade after a complaint is received, he explains how their work can be improved. âÄúIâÄôm fighting a battle, a losing battle, but IâÄôm determined to fight it anyway,âÄù he said. âÄúIf we give them Bs when their work is only C-level, weâÄôre misleading them, and weâÄôre failing in our educational responsibilities.âÄù