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Where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on[.]

February 19, 2009, 5:18 pm

The comments on Farley’s post about grade inflation and student effort had convinced me not to read the article that inspired them.  Then Shahar excerpted a different part of the article and I changed my mind:

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, Irvine, found that a third of students surveyed said that they expected B’s just for attending lectures, and 40 percent said they deserved a B for completing the required reading.

Did that prepositional phrase modify the researchers (they are at UCI) or where they did their study (at UCI)?  I couldn’t tell from the excerpt.  So I read the article.  It didn’t say.  So I read the study it cited.  It didn’t say outright—but it hinted.  The ethnic diversity of its sample breaks down like this:

51.2% East or Southeast Asian
18.9% Caucasian
10.7% Latino
1.1% African American

The ethnic diversity of a closely related fine public university in a similar location breaks down like this:

51% Asian / Pacific Islander
24% White
12% Latino
2% African American

Participants in the study were recruited through handbills “posted at the Social Sciences Human Subjects Laboratory.”  Where do I teach?  This means that while everyone else can speak hypothetically about whether their students resemble those in the study, I must come to terms with the fact that sixty-percent of actual students actually sitting in my actual classes believe that if they “explain to [me] that [they are] trying hard, [they] think [I] should give [them] some consideration with respect to [their] course grade.”  I must accept that fifty-percent of them believe that they deserve a B if they “have completed most [of the mandatory] reading for [my] class” or “have attended most [of the mandatory] classes for [my] course.”  I must deal with the fact that twenty-five percent of them “would think poorly of [me if I] didn’t respond the same day to an e-mail [they] sent.”

I could learn to deal with that.  But I’m not sure I can live in a world in which sixteen-percent of my students think that I “should not be annoyed with [them] if [they] receive an important call during class.”

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