Harvard Median Grade of A- Gets F in Responsibility From Teacher

Harvard Median Grade of A- Gets F in Responsibility From Teacher

Harvard University undergraduates are more likely to get an A than any other grade, a measure of academic largesse that hurts the college’s students in the long run, a professor said.

A university official revealed in a faculty meeting that A’s are the most frequently given mark from Harvard College teachers, and A- is the median grade, the Harvard Crimson student newspaper reported yesterday.

“They’re debasing the value of an A,” said Harvey Mansfield, a government professor who has long decried grade inflation at the school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “They’re ignoring their responsibility to maintain our standards.”

Jay Harris, Harvard’s dean of undergraduate education, revealed the data on grades to answer a question from Mansfield at a monthly faculty meeting, the Crimson reported. Jeff Neal, a university spokesman, confirmed the accuracy of the information in an e-mailed statement today.

“We believe that learning is the most important thing that happens in our classrooms and throughout our system of residential education,” Neal said. “The faculty are focused on creating positive and lasting learning outcomes for our undergraduates. We watch and review trends in grading across Harvard College, but we are most interested in helping our students learn and learn well.”

The school formed an Initiative on Teaching and Learning in 2011.

Cheating Scandal

Harvard, the oldest and richest U.S. university, had its scholarly reputation rocked last year by a final-exam cheating scandal that resulted in suspensions for dozens of students. The scandal was discovered when teachers noticed evidence of students collaborating inappropriately on a take-home exam.

The college’s students expect high grades, whether or not they perform outstanding work, Mansfield said.

“The scandal took place in an atmosphere where easy, good grades are expected,” he said in a telephone interview. “People aren’t serious about working for grades.”

Mansfield said that many teachers give A’s because they want to maintain good relationships with students, who need high marks to get jobs and places in graduate and professional schools. He called the high-grade glut a kind of pollution, where each person thinks their contribution is harmless.

“Students are living in a bubble,” he said. “When they get out, they’re surprised that people don’t get A’s for doing no work and being dumb.”

Established in 1636, Harvard has an endowment of $32.7 billion, the biggest educational fund in the world. The school said in September that it plans to raise $6.5 billion in donations by 2018, a record goal for U.S. universities.

— Editors: Chris Staiti, Lisa Wolfson

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in Boston at jlauerman@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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