…The academic year is coming to a close and ‘of course’ students are concerned about their grades. This is normal, but obsessing over “an A” is not normal. On ‘international school campuses’ world-wide students are ‘claiming’ I must have an “A”, I paid money (actually their parents or their parents’ company paid) and I deserve an “A”, I won’t get into ____ unless I have an “A”, I did all my work you have to give me an “A”, et cetera and ad nauseam.
The experiences of many teachers are similar to those of Dr. Grossman …
Prof. Marshall Grossman has come to expect complaints whenever he returns graded papers in his English classes at the University of Maryland.
“Many students come in with the conviction that they’ve worked hard and deserve a higher mark,” Professor Grossman said. “Some assert that they have never gotten a grade as low as this before.”
He attributes those complaints to his students’ sense of entitlement.
“I tell my classes that if they just do what they are supposed to do and meet the standard requirements, that they will earn a C,” he said. “That is the default grade. They see the default grade as an A.”
Since the majority of students attending international campuses aspire to attend major, world class universities we find from a 2008 study conducted by Ellen Greenberger, et al. at the University of California, Irvine and quoted in Student Incivility, Intimidation, and Entitlement in Academia, Barb Holdcroft that among university students…
- 2 percent of students believe that “trying hard” should result in a good grade;
- 7 percent believe that completing most of the reading for a course should result in a B grade;
- 5 percent believe that a professor should respond to an e-mail the same day it was sent; and
- 5 percent believe that students should be allowed to take calls during class.
When one adds to this some facts concerning some, but not all, students attending an international campus we find …
- that they feel that amount they pay in tuition ‘entitles’ them to high grades;
- they feel that they are entitled to use their ‘technological devices’ when and where they desire, and that consequences do not apply to them;
- they feel that classroom rules, due the status their family has in the community and/or corporate structure, entitles them to special consideration;
- they feel that they have the right, due the status their family has in the community and/or corporate structure, to arrive or leave as they wish without consequences;
- that they feel they should be given ‘credit’, in the form of a grade, when they prepare for a class;
- that they feel entitled to certain grades, regardless of whether or not they have earned them; and,
- they should receive the highest grade possible for plagiarizing material for a presentation, project, research paper and not face penalties.
When one considers the average, and or mathematical mean, of the numbers from 1 to 100 one finds that the average and/or mean is 50 or 50%. When one considers the normal grading scale we find that ‘average; is half-way between an “F” and an “A” or a grade of “C”.
In her blog posted on Prep Scholar Samantha Lindsey states the following …
“The overall average GPA nationally is a 3.0, but this may be deceptive. The average in core subject areas is actually a bit lower. The average GPA is brought up to a 3.0 by the higher grades that students receive in courses that are not part of the core curriculum The core curriculum in the data that I looked at was considered to be math, science, English, and social studies courses. The average GPAs for these different types of courses were the following:
Social studies: 2.89
“This shows that students tend to have lower average GPAs in math and science courses compared to English and social studies courses.”
So, since the scores, as Ms. Lindsey, states them are well within the rage of scores from 2.0 to 2.9, which is defined as a “C” then one has to arrive at the understanding that the ‘average student performance in the core subjects’ is a “C average. How then, is it possible, that it seems as if the majority of students feel they are entitled to a grade of an “A” or a “B” when they only do average or below average work.
The real questions go even deeper …
- Are education professionals – teachers, administrators, etc. in the business of making students feel good or are we in the business of preparing student for their future?
- Is it more important to tell the truth and prepare a student for the ‘possible failures and/or shortcomings they may/will face in their future or is it the role of the school do help students feel good about themselves and not tell the truth?
- Are we, as professionals, doing a ‘service’ or a disservice when we inflate grades or allow students to feel entitled?
A last thought … it has been my privilege since 1982 to teach in a variety of settings, environments, countries and levels of educational institutions and for this I am extremely grateful. However, it seems as if this “sense of entitlement” which appears to prevail across societies has grown in the recent decades.
Is it only me or are you too concerned about the quality of the product that we, as professionals, are placing into society when we allow the concept of ‘entitlement’ to cloud our judgement … are we really protecting the child from having low self-esteem, confidence, etc. or are we protecting ourselves from those who practice arrogance by virtue of ignorance … in simple words, if we lie, and that is exactly what it is, when we “adjust and/or modify” grades, are we really serving the interests of society or are we serving our own interests, which may verge on being selfish to avoid conflict, not be liked, avoiding having parents pounding on your classroom/office door, etc.?
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Roosevelt, Max (2009) Student Expectations Seen as Causing Grade Disputes. Feb 17, New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/18/education/18college.html?_r=0)
Holdcroft, Barb. Student Incivility, Intimidation, and Entitlement in Academia in American Association of College Professors, May – June 2014 (http://www.aaup.org/article/student-incivility-intimidation-and-entitlement- academia)
Paslay Christopher (2012) Why Students Feel Entitled to( Grades they Haven’t Earned in Chalk and Talk, November 14. (https://chalkandtalk.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/why-students-feel-entitled-to-grades-they-havent-earned/)
Lindsay Samantha (2015) SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips: What’s the Average High School GPA? In PrepScholar, Aug 7. (http://blog.prepscholar.com/whats-the-average-high-school-gpa)