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.”