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CSOM Students, Faculty React to Grade Inflation Report

The Carroll School of Management (CSOM) compiled a report earlier this year that demonstrated grade inflation within the classes in school. This will push professors to grade on the same standard across different sections of the same course, according to Ronnie Sadka, CSOM’s senior associate dean for faculty.

Following this development, The Heights asked various CSOM students and faculty about their perceptions over whether grade inflation is a problem that should be addressed.

Students appeared to fall on both sides of the issue.

“In general I don’t find grade inflation a big thing in CSOM,” said Jenny Liang, CSOM ’20. “For the classes I have taken so far, the freshman year Portico is an easy A, but other than that I find the grade reflects the effort pretty accurately.”

Dan Paulos, CSOM ’19, agreed, feeling that the grading process within classes he has taken has been consistent with the level of effort he puts in. Others felt there is a significant discrepancy between different professors.

“It’s also pretty clear that some professors in CSOM are significantly easier than others, but I think that’s pretty natural and that you’d find that in pretty much any college course that has multiple professors,” said Noah Clark, CSOM ’19.

Liang shared this opinion, explaining that the grading system doesn’t appear to be standardized among different professors for some of her classes. She noted a few instances in which she and one of her friends taking the same course with different professors weren’t held to the same standards.

Mohit Aayush, CSOM ’20, also commented on the discrepancies between the material different professors cover in talking to friends taking the same classes as he does. Aayush explained that he and one of his friends, both of whom are enrolled in Basic Finance, appear to be studying different content. In his class, he is currently studying STRIP bonds. But when Aayush asked his friend, who is supposedly taking the “harder” professor, he was unable to help.

“We have a couple professors in common, but most of us are in different classes, and we always talk about how our topics are different,” he said. “Not only that, but tests that are supposed to be somewhat departmental vary a lot in terms of difficulty.”

 Juan Montes, assistant professor of the practice in the management and organization department, sees more nuance within the issue of grade inflation. He explained that some courses are more demanding than others, while others concentrate a larger population of high achievers than others.

“I don’t want to see my students fail, I want them perceive themselves as competent and professional,” he said in an email. “My preoccupation is not just in the higher end of the curve, but in the lower end too.”

 There is also a persistent attitude that CSOM classes are easier than courses in the Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences, according to Clark.

“I’ve noticed that the average grade in most of my CSOM classes tends to be around a B+, whereas my computer science classes [in MCAS] usually curve to around a B or B- average, with higher expectations in workload,” he said. “This type of grade behavior encourages students to try to stick to classes purely in CSOM and punishes students for taking on majors and minors in A&S.”

Madison Choo, CSOM ’20, takes a different perspective. She believes that higher grades could be a sign that students and professors are “doing their jobs correctly,” and should, therefore, be awarded higher grades.

“CSOM students put in a lot of work to understand class material, and if they are able to learn it and do A-worthy work, then they should get the A,” she said. “Shouldn’t professors and CSOM be happy that there are a lot of As in classes? Doesn’t that mean that they have excelling students and renowned professors? Doesn’t that mean that everyone is doing their best work?”

Regardless of the efforts to diminish grade inflation within CSOM, Montes still believes the grading standards will inevitably vary among courses taught by the same professor.

“I think having general principles and boundaries is a good policy, but there should be always room for flexibility depending on the circumstances and particular cases,” he said.

Featured Image by Taylor Perison / Heights Staff

March 18, 2018