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Real Costs Of Nominal Grade Inflation? New Evidence From Student Course Evaluations

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  • PHILIP BABCOCK

Abstract

"College grade point averages in the United States rose substantially between the 1960s and the 2000s. Over the same period, study time declined by almost a half. This paper uses a 12-quarter panel of course evaluations from the University of California, San Diego to discern whether a link between grades and effort investment holds up in a micro setting. Results indicate that average study time would be about 50% lower in a class in which the average expected grade was an "A" than in the same course taught by the same instructor in which students expected a "C." Simultaneity suggests estimates are biased toward 0. Findings do not appear to be driven primarily by the individual student's expected grade, but by the average expected grade of others in the class. Class-specific characteristics that generate low expected grades appear to produce higher effort choices-evidence that nominal changes in grades may lead to real changes in effort investment." ("JEL" I21, J22, J24) Copyright (c) 2009 Western Economic Association International.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 48 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 983-996

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:48:y:2010:i:4:p:983-996

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Cited by:
  1. Alexander Ludwig & Dirk Krueger, 2010. "Optimal Progressive Taxation and Education Subsidies in a Model of Endogenous Human Capital Formation," 2010 Meeting Papers, Society for Economic Dynamics 388, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Darren Grant & William Green, 2013. "Grades as incentives," Empirical Economics, Springer, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 1563-1592, June.
  3. Ehlers, Tim & Schwager, Robert, 2012. "Honest grading, grade inflation and reputation," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 143, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  4. John Bailey Jones & Fang Yang, 2012. "Skill-Biased Technical Change and the Cost of Higher Education," Discussion Papers, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics 12-08, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  5. Ehlers, Tim & Schwager, Robert, 2012. "Honest Grading, Grade Inflation and Reputation," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62051, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  6. Ehlers, Tim & Schwager, Robert, 2012. "Honest grading, grade inflation and reputation," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 143, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  7. Cory Koedel, 2010. "Grading Standards in Education Departments at Universities," Working Papers, Department of Economics, University of Missouri 1002, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 13 Jun 2011.
  8. De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny & Solondz, Catharina, 2014. "Public expenditures, educational outcomes and grade inflation: Theory and evidence from a policy intervention in the Netherlands," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 152-166.
  9. Rebecca Summary & William Weber, 2012. "Grade inflation or productivity growth? An analysis of changing grade distributions at a regional university," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, Springer, vol. 38(1), pages 95-107, August.
  10. Beleche, Trinidad & Fairris, David & Marks, Mindy, 2012. "Do course evaluations truly reflect student learning? Evidence from an objectively graded post-test," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 709-719.
  11. Steven Brint and Allison M. Cantwell, 2011. "ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: Rethinking Bok’s “Underachieving Colleges†Thesis," University of California at Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley qt83q89897, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley.

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