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The Life-Cycle Pattern of Collegiate GPA: Longitudinal Cohort Analysis and Grade Inflation


  • Wayne A. Grove
  • Tim Wasserman


Individual semester-by-semester undergraduate grade point average for each of the eight semesters of the collegiate academic life cycle for five entire student cohorts for the classes of 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 at a large, private university in the northeast ( N = 12,663) reveal a "check-mark" pattern: students' grades fell in the second semester, rose thereafter, and slumped in the last academic term. Attrition and participation in the Greek system explain over half of the longitudinal change in academic achievement. A comparison of the five cohorts of students indicates a rate of grade inflation comparable to that obtained for multischool studies covering the period 1960 to the late 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • Wayne A. Grove & Tim Wasserman, 2004. "The Life-Cycle Pattern of Collegiate GPA: Longitudinal Cohort Analysis and Grade Inflation," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 162-174, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:35:y:2004:i:2:p:162-174 DOI: 10.3200/JECE.35.2.162-174

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles A. Holt & Monica Capra, 2000. "Classroom Games: A Prisoner's Dilemma," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(3), pages 229-236, September.
    2. Reinhard Selten, 1973. "A Simple Model of Imperfect Competition, where 4 are Few and 6 are Many," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 008, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
    3. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-1326, December.
    4. Brauer, Jurgen & Delemeester, Greg, 2001. " Games Economists Play: A Survey of Non-computerized Classroom-Games for College Economics," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(2), pages 221-236, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Peter Arcidiacono & Esteban Aucejo & Ken Spenner, 2012. "What happens after enrollment? An analysis of the time path of racial differences in GPA and major choice," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-24, December.
    3. repec:got:cegedp:143 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Cyrenne, Philippe & Chan, Alan, 2012. "High school grades and university performance: A case study," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 524-542.
    5. 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.

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