Want to Increase STEM Numbers? Then Don't Grade 'Em So Hard

Glenn Ricketts

Following George Leef's post about U of M/Baltimore County president Freeman Hrabowski's no-baloney approach to math and science education, I was struck by its comparison to this item which ran in Friday's Collegiate Press Roundup. Read it and see if you believe: here's an apparently serious piece by a graduate nursing student at U/Texas Austin which argues for simply easing up on grading standards as a solution. There, you want higher STEM numbers? Then stop grading so hard. Really.

I can't simply brush this away with the back of my hand, though. First, take the time to read William Young's article on the relentless movement to achieve "gender parity" in the STEM disciplines. If you feel that strongly about equality, as its proponents undoubtedly do, then you may be less inclined to be concerned about "male" notions of grading standards. And anyway, aren't they too hard as it is? Don't they represent, as "parity" supporters would argue, the "socially constructed" ideas of those in power? Add to all of this the already rampant grade inflation found throught the academy, and you may think again before dismissing this idea with a laugh. Much as I admire and would emulate Hrabowski's approach, I think he's unfortunately a solitary candle in the wind.

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