Thursday, February 19, 2009

College grades and class size

Today Greg Mankiw writes about undergraduates' course satisfaction highly correlated with class size in the Harvard economics department, while the Times reports on students' and professors' differing perspectives and expectations regarding grades.

The latter article focuses on students' beliefs regarding hard work and whether it is enough to earn a high grade. I'm fond of telling undergraduate advisees about my own experience as an undergraduate, when I earned a solid "C" in introductory computer science. Notice my verb choice. I worked extremely hard, but I also knew I wasn't a particularly good computer scientist. One of our challenges as college educators, it seems to me, is to motivate students to continue striving to learn even when it is clearly difficult and thus will not result in particularly high grades.