Operation inflation

When sophomore Ben Mervis heard that one of his professors tended to give high grades, he began to think twice about studying for class.Over the past 10 years, data has shown that UVM undergraduates are earning more A’s, and some UVM students and faculty argue that grade inflation is ever present on campus, as well as on a national scale.Students are happy with the good grades given to them by their professors without the hard work because they are not feeling the negative effects immediately, Mervis said.”Ultimately it’s the students fault, because if the students are not putting in the effort, it continues to be a vicious cycle,” he said.Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Joel Goldberg said students might not be the only ones to blame.”From a faculty perspective, it is a lot easier to err on the side of giving a high grade, and I think there is a natural tendency to want to please people,” Goldberg said.There is also student pressure placed on faculty to give good grades based on the fact that college is expensive, he said.”Some students present it as, ‘I showed up to class, I paid my tuition, I turned in every assignment and therefore I should get at least a B in this class regardless of how well I did on anything; I am owed a B,'” he said.Grade inflation is one of those issues that people are not necessarily willing to take on, he said. “There are some departments, just like there are individual faculty members, who derive their own sense of self by giving low grades, and that is evidence to them that their courses are really rigorous,” Anthropology Department Chair Cameron Wesson said.All that means is that the professor is not as open and encouraging towards students, but at the same time, there are professors that just want their students to like them and their subject matter, Wesson said.”If you are a good teacher, what you should hope is that you made the concepts easy for people to master and understand,” he said.If every single student in the class makes an A, because they have done the work, did the readings and mastered the material, then a professor could consider themselves successful, he said.”I would definitely say that what’s happening at UVM reflects larger trends at American colleges, and the kind of enrollment at American universities,” he said.Grade inflation can be seen nationally, and is not necessarily something that needs to be squelched, University Registrar Keith Williams said.”If the student body is better qualified, coming from more of the top 10 percent of their high school classes, wouldn’t you assume that they are better prepared and better students that would do better on exams?” Wesson said.Grade inflation at UVM is just not something the administration has spent lot of time trying to figure it out, Reed said.”[Students] are here to be challenged, and if you sailed through high school with a lot of A’s, some look forward to coming to college to be challenged,” Goldberg said. Mervis agreed. “I would rather be challenged because that is how I am going to learn the most.”