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Grading Standards in Education Departments at Universities



This paper documents a startling difference in the grading standards between education departments and other academic departments at universities – undergraduate students in education classes receive significantly higher grades than students in all other classes. This phenomenon cannot be explained by differences in student quality or structural differences across departments (i.e., differences in class sizes). Drawing on evidence from the economics literature, the differences in grading standards between education and non-education departments imply that undergraduate education majors, the majority of whom become teachers, supply substantially less effort in college than non-education majors. If the grading standards in education departments were brought in line with those of other major academic departments, student effort would be expected to increase by at least 10-16 percent.

Suggested Citation

  • Cory Koedel, 2010. "Grading Standards in Education Departments at Universities," Working Papers 1002, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 13 Jun 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:umc:wpaper:1002

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel Aaronson & Lisa Barrow & William Sander, 2007. "Teachers and Student Achievement in the Chicago Public High Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 95-135.
    2. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
    3. William Chan & Li Hao & Wing Suen, 2007. "A Signaling Theory Of Grade Inflation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 48(3), pages 1065-1090, August.
    4. Philip Babcock, 2010. "Real Costs Of Nominal Grade Inflation? New Evidence From Student Course Evaluations," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 983-996, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rodney J. Andrews & Scott A. Imberman & Michael F. Lovenheim, 2017. "Risky Business? The Effect of Majoring in Business on Earnings and Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 23575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Hinrichs, Peter, 2014. "What Kind of Teachers Are Schools Looking For? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Working Paper 1436, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    3. Benjamin Artz & David M. Welsch, 2013. "The Effect of Student Evaluations on Academic Success," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 100-119, January.
    4. Peter Arcidiacono & Cory Koedel, 2014. "Race and College Success: Evidence from Missouri," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 20-57, July.
    5. 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.

    More about this item


    Grading Standards; Grade Inflation; Grading Standards in Departments of Education; Teacher Training;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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