More on Grade Inflation and Lake Wobegon Effect
For more than 40 years, grades have risen across universities nationwide. The Raleigh News and Observer reported Jan. 25 that 82% of all grades given to undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were As and Bs in Fall 2007, and that the average GPA was 3.2. In 1967, the average GPA at UNC was 2.49, according to gradeinflation.com.
Rising grades, however, are notable at Duke and among top-ranked institutions. Back in 1966, for instance, 22% of the grades Harvard University gave to its undergraduates were in the A range, according to a 2002 report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences assessing grade inflation. In the 2001-2002 academic year, As and A-minuses accounted for 51% of Harvard's grades, with B-minuses or lower accounting for only 12% of grades.
Similarly, in the 2000-2001 academic year, 48.9% of grades at Duke were As of any sort, and 19.6% were B-minuses or lower, according to a 2003 Provost report. Duke-specific data for previous years were not stated in the report.
From a three part series on grade inflation in the Duke Chronicle. Thanks to Duke professor and blogger Mike Munger, who provides this quote:
Dr. Nancy Major, associate professor of radiology and evolutionary anthropology, agrees that if there are many students who merit high marks, they should be rewarded accordingly. Major, who has been teaching undergraduates since 2004, said she gives mostly As, an occasional B and does not recall ever having given a C.
"I teach a very different kind of class," she said. "On the first day I tell everyone what's expected of them to tell them how to get a decent grade in the class. And for me a decent grade in the class is an A."