NYT article about Grade Curve...will it result in change?

I noticed that Penn tweeted the link to the NYT article by the Wharton prof about the need to eliminate grading students on a curve. Does anyone think that the response to the article will result in change? I personally think that this practice leads to an unhealthy climate for students.

I hope that it will result in a change…and better mental health for the students (especially in Wharton).

What Adam Grant doesn’t tell you is the breakdown of scores in his class. He might not “curve” per-se but he still might only end up giving out 15% A’s like the Wharton curve does. Plus, the real world is competitive. Jobs and Promotions are given to the top of the class so why should Wharton do anything different?

Even if he does only give 15% A’s, don’t you think the climate would be improved because students would be encouraged to work together to achieve the best grade possible rather than gunning for the few A’s available with a curve?

I understand both sides, but I think that if the end result is the same, why not embrace the grading policy that results in fewer stressed out students?

I don’t think there is any difference honestly. At the end of the day if only 15% get A’s whether from a strict curve or just score cutoffs who cares if it is curved or uncurved?

We don’t know that only 15% get A’s normally. That’s the problem. If you assume it’s the same either way – yeah, who cares, same result. But if more people would get A’s without the 15% limit, why not reward them with grades equal to their mastery of the material?

I was simply saying that Adam Grant does not say what his score cutoffs are and the resulting grade distribution that results. It could be 15% A’s, it could be 4% A’s, it could be Harvard and everyone gets an A. Haha.

Grades are not pats on the back for completing a course. Grades are a metric to see where a person stands in their class. It may seem tough that Wharton has such a harsh curve, but someone who graduates summa cum laude will have plenty of job offers because employers know that they truly were at the top of his or her class. Mastering material is relative in the real world, it all comes down to who knows the most and that is what the Wharton curve does. Yea it sucks sometimes when a 95% raw score on a test is a B, but at the end of the day your classmates that scored above you deserve a higher score and a higher GPA because of it. Curving creates stress, but it makes the cream rise to the top.

Adam Grant is a truly wonderful professor and person who I have personally talked to. I think that he is allowed to do whatever grading he wants. However, the thought that Wharton should eliminate the curved courses because they create stress is ridiculous. If someone can’t handle the stress of a Wharton class they sure can’t handle the stress of the real world. I look at Wharton as a small microcosm of the business world. It is competitive, people want to be the best, but ultimately to succeed it comes down to the people you know and how they can help. The burden is on the students to overcome the boundaries made by the curve (or the desire for promotions in the real world) to work together because it is in their common interests. Without the curve we might be closer, we might have more friends and a more “fun” college experience, but at the end of the day we are students in the best undergraduate business school because we want to be the best in business. The Wharton curve helps to make that happen and eliminating it would be a disservice to the students.

No, not true. Grades are a metric to see if a student has mastered their material.

Totally disagree. The real world is not a meritocracy. Successful people in the real world get ahead because of many factors-knowledge, leadership, charisma, and good communication skills.

Have you worked in high finance in the real world @Finance4ever ? I do, and can tell you for 100% certain that real world careers and promotions do not go exclusively to who knows the most.

I guess we disagree on the purpose of grades. Speaking for experience at Wharton most people have the material mastered to a degree that they would be getting good grades at other universities. I know, a vast simplification, but kids here are smart.

My dad works in finance so yea I’ve spent a good amount of time around it. You are correct, people are promoted for a variety of reasons other than specific knowledge and it would be naive to think otherwise; however, my words were not meant to be taken that literally. The best analyst in the class is given great rewards and prestige even if the second analyst is just close behind. The PhD student with the most groundbreaking research is hired by the best universities. Yea more than just production for nearly all firms is used as a gauge for promotions, but what I am saying is that the best tend to do better off and the curve makes it easier for the cream of the class to rise to the top. If everyone was given a grade based on their mastery of the material then the average GPA would be like a 3.7 because most people here know what’s up. That would present a problem for recruiters who truly want the best of the class and would have a tough time differentiating the best students and the average students.

At Wharton your diploma says you’ve mastered the material and the GPA says where you stand in your class.

Adam Grant talks about his goals in writing that NYTimes article in new Daily Pennsylvanian article: http://www.thedp.com/article/2016/10/adam-grant-wharton-preprofessional-culture-grading-curves

Interesting article in the DP today. I think that Grant’s perspective is very interesting given the other schools at which he has worked and studied. He has a good basis for comparison, and one cannot deny that the mental health of Penn students has been negatively impacted by the hyper competitive and cutthroat atmosphere that such a grading philosophy causes.

Interesting from the article…“I’ve been at five universities — this is by far the worst I have ever seen it. The way it is at Penn is far, far, far more damaging than at Harvard [University], or [University of] Michigan, or [University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill].”

and…“In his op-ed, Grant explained how he changed grading policies in his class so that students would be rewarded for collaborating during their exam preparation. After implementing these policies, he saw an increase both in teamwork and in average exam scores.”

I just read the comments after the article that was mentioned above by @runswimyoga. Some of them are really disheartening as they speak of a climate of fear and loneliness. It doesn’t have to be that way. It is within the University’s power to address the issue in a way that improves the student experience at Penn.

Penn has always been the most pre-professional of the ivies, it is like ingrained in its DNA and will be very hard, almost impossible to change. Honestly I think it can be both a bad and a good thing. It means that students at Penn are way more conscious and pressured from very early on to make plans about their summers during college and their career after graduation. Yes without a doubt this adds a lot of pressure and can get overwhelming at times, but it has its positive aspects too namely that it provides a sense of direction and motivation and also toughens the students up and prepares them for the real world. This could be especially beneficial for liberal arts majors.

Penn is not for everyone and it is not a cosy environment where the students will be coddled. In general, students who enjoy and thrive under competition and students who are also social and can juggle intense academics with extracurriculars will tend to enjoy Penn the most.

That said from my experience there has always been help from professors and TAs if you approach them, go to their office hours, and also from your peers both in terms of academics and job search. There are many upperclassmen who take time out of their schedule to prep their underclassmen acquaintances for interviews and give them advice etc. Also for many of my classes students out of their own initiative would form study groups to do the homework problems and even study for the midterms. There is collaboration for sure in addition to intense competition.

Also Penn is big school in a major city, so it can get overwhelming. Finding one or more organizations on campus makes a huge difference in terms of social life and also the help and mentorship one can receive from peers. I would suggest that freshmen and also prospective applicants keep that in mind.

Lastly, as I said Penn is not for everyone. Don’t choose Penn because of the name, it is an ivy etc. The ivy+ schools are very similar in many ways but also have big have differences. While you could feel at home and thrive in one, you could completely not fit into another one.