Phi Beta Cons

Ratcheting Down on Student Ability

In today’s Pope Center piece, Professor Norman Van Cott of Ball State University writes about his experience in teaching introductory economics to both an “honors” section and a regular section. The difference in results is striking. Van Cott concludes that American colleges and universities (BSU is pretty typical) have already ratcheted down a long way with regard to student ability; to expand “access” to many more high school grads, as many politicians say we should, would lead to increasing pressure on professors to dilute their courses and inflate grades.

Van Cott himself won’t do either, but most will go along.

One point that I think stands out is the level of effort devoted by the “honors” students compared with the effort of the others. A lot of college students prefer to coast along without putting in much effort, as the recent study by Marks and Babcock showed. The “I can get by without working hard” mentality that K–12 ingrains in many young Americans obviously carries on into college.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

Most Popular

Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
Elections

Diversity Panic Hits the Democratic Field

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An Asian guy, two black guys, three white women (one of whom spent much of her life claiming to be Native American), a Pacific Islander woman, a gay guy, a Hispanic guy, two elderly Caucasian Jews (one a billionaire, the other a socialist), a self-styled Irishman, and a ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The FBI’s Corrupt Cops

White-collar criminals should hope for one thing this Christmas: that they get to live under the Horowitz rules. Michael Horowitz has testified that he found no evidence of political bias on the part of the decision makers who, under the Obama administration, relied on hilariously implausible “evidence” ... Read More
White House

Is Trump the Only Adult in the Room?

Donald Trump certainly is mercurial at times. He can be uncouth. But then again, no president in modern memory has been on the receiving end of such overwhelmingly negative media coverage and a three-year effort to abort his presidency, beginning the day after his election. Do we remember the effort to ... Read More
White House

Is Trump the Only Adult in the Room?

Donald Trump certainly is mercurial at times. He can be uncouth. But then again, no president in modern memory has been on the receiving end of such overwhelmingly negative media coverage and a three-year effort to abort his presidency, beginning the day after his election. Do we remember the effort to ... Read More