Faculty Senate Task Force Finds No Grade Inflation at Mason

Posted: November 21, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

A study of long-term grading patterns at George Mason shows no evidence of overall grade inflation, a Faculty Senate task force reported to the group this week. However, the senate voted to initiate an ongoing process to gather and disseminate information on course grades as a feedback mechanism for faculty and administrators.

Examining data from 1991 to 2000, the task force found that although there was variance from school to school, the patterns within the schools were relatively stable over the time period. Despite a survey of the faculty taken before the study indicating a perception that grade inflation of about half a point probably existed, the task force’s overall conclusion was, “We don’t have a problem with grade inflation,” according to task force chair Donald Gantz, Applied and Engineering Statistics.

The study showed that students in the School of Information Technology and Engineering tend to have lower cumulative GPAs overall, while students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) and the College of Nursing and Health Science (CNHS) consistently have the highest cumulative GPAs in the university. By way of explanation, CVPA Dean William Reeder commented that if students in his school “hit the right notes only 85 percent of the time, they’d be booted off the stage.” And, students in CNHS enter the college as juniors with a minimum GPA of 3.0, which tends to skew their grading patterns upward, CNHS senator Charlene Douglas pointed out.

The task force was unable to complete two of its original charges. One was to look at grading patterns by categories of instructors, which the task force found would be difficult and time-consuming. Another was to ascertain the impact of the general education requirements on grades, which was not feasible because of the newness of the program.

The task force report will soon be posted on the Faculty Senate web page.

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