Showing posts with label student expectations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label student expectations. Show all posts

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grade Inflation: Rescuing Students from Unrealistic Expectations

Grade inflation has been a drag on the quality of education for sometime and sets students up for future failure. The artificial, and often accidental, inflation of grades persists and doesn’t appear to have an immediate resolution. Professors feel pressure to continue providing high grades despite its long-term damage to the student, the university, and future employers. Looking out for students requires holding the line on grade pressure.

Its easy to give high grades when the benefits significantly outweigh the costs of holding students accountable for learning. Professors mentioned that grade inflation is a result of poor student evaluations, poor student-teacher relationships, financial aid requirements, and excessively high student expectations (Caruth & Caruth, 2013). Giving accurate grades comes with internal and external pressure to lower the standards.

On the first day, students walk/ log into a class with preconceived expectations of what grade they should have regardless of their actual performance. Based upon studies of undergraduate and graduate students the average undergraduate student expects a B- while graduate students expect a B+ (Schwartz, 2009). This expectation sometimes leads to disappointment and anger if they do not get what they thought they should.

Perception vs. Market Performance

One problem with giving into student demands is that eventually reality will hit the student in ways they don’t foresee. At some point, they will need to show their mastery of the material and will experience serious disappointment from job loss, lack of forthcoming opportunities, and inability to overcome challenges. Today’s false perception of their performance can lead to serious job market consequences tomorrow.

An employer may consider the merits of hiring a student on the honor roll but will become disappointed with the value of the degree if the student has lower performance than expected. The problem of high grades with low performance becomes a detriment that can take students years to figure out once they reflect on their failures. The costs to the employer and the student can be substantial.

Reserving the Independence of Faculty

There is no doubt there are good and bad faculty. Faculty should be held accountable when they are miserably not engaged in the educational process but should not be held accountable for student misperceptions of grades. Faculty evaluations should have only a limited amount of performance influence as they can at times be conduits to express anger stemming from disappointment than an actual reflection of teaching quality.

Peer reviews should weigh higher on these evaluations as they offer a better reflection of performance. This doesn’t mean that student evaluations are not important but that they sometimes don’t reflect accurately the job that high performing professors are doing. Peer reviews offer a method of seeing if the professor is actively engaged in the learning process from the perspective of people with industry knowledge.

It is better to use a battery of measurements that include peer reviews, student evaluations, basic class metrics (i.e. postings, engagement, etc...), and quality of content to evaluate professors. If the goal is to create more accurate assessments than a well-rounded report with multiple measurements may get a better total picture. Each university will need to determine if that "accurate picture" is worth the time and cost.

Setting the Tone Right From the First Day

Universities should stand by their commitment to high quality learning to create relevance in the modern market which will be the truest judge of performance. Student disappointment is often a result of misperceptions fed by grade inflating, misinterpretation of the value of grades, and the overall academic culture. Students should consistently be told they need to earn their grades and must challenge their existing assumptions to move to higher states of adaptive learning.

Forcing students to reach higher levels of performance should be a fundamental goal. A’s should be difficult to obtain and a valid measure of actual performance. The average student should be in the C and B range with areas of improvement apparent. Continually pushing students to get better may create frustration but often leads to higher long-term performance. If the student see where they can improve it is up to the professor to show them. Rescuing students from drowning themselves in the misperceptions of what is needed to be successful in life may be one of the most valuable higher education lessons.

Caruth, D. & Caruth, G. (2013). Grade inflation: an issue for higher education? Journal of Distance Education, 14 (1).

Schwartz, D. (2009). The impact of more rigorous grading on instructor evaluations: a longitudinal study, 2 (1). 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Preparing Students for Graduate School with Online “Boot Camps”

Graduate school can be stressful for students who are unprepared for the tasks that lay ahead. As expectations rise, students may not be ready to handle the different requirements of successfully navigating graduate school at an increased performance level. Offering a graduate boot camp can help in preparing students not only for the technological skills but also the required study habits to achieve their goals. 

I read a short paper by Posey and Pintz (2013) that discusses offering an online course for helping student’s bridge the gap. Their course focuses on helping students understand the expectations of graduate school, the new writing requirements, how to search in the library and how to conduct basic research. 

 The idea presents some promise in helping students raise their caliber of performance and understand new expectations. That doesn’t mean students would be particularly interested in attending such a course. Few of them will want to complete additional work outside of their core requirements. Who can blame them?

Sometimes these courses offer a single credit or are created as a requirement that fits into the mandatory courses each student must take at the beginning of a graduate program. Each college finds whether or not such a class works and if it fits within the college’s strategy. 

Keeping students focused on the main learning requirements for successful employment is important but a basic understanding of how to write well and conduct research is important. A boot camp helps students put with in proper perspective the rest of their graduate education. 

Misalignment of student expectations with actual requirements can create dissatisfaction with their graduate experience. The student may start school thinking that the level of performance in the past will be sufficient and then become disillusioned when their grades drop, professors want work turned in on time, and they want a coherent paper with library sources. 

Narrowing the expectation-performance gap is important. Students should understand they are expected to work at a higher level and should have the basic skills to get through the library, apply information and write professionally. New expectations can be provided in a boot camp or woven into the first few courses of the program. The information presented to them prior to entering school should be accurate and still positive so as to not create a false expectation. 

Posey, L. and Pintz, C. (2013) Easing Students’ Transition to Online Graduate Education. Ends and Means, 11 (1).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Student Expectations of Hotel Management Education and Careers

Students moving into the hotel and hospitality management fields choose this occupation for a variety of reasons ranging from travel to compensation. In a number of cases, students were not aware of why they choose this particular field and did so on a hunch. At the time, they made the decision it seemed like a choice that fits their personal lifestyle and goals. Research by Peshave and Gujarathi helps to understand why students have chosen the hotel industry and what their expectations are.

Upon graduation, students have personal and professional expectations they hope to fulfill within their workplace. For example, many students hope to be a general manager within 10 years of graduation (Jenkins, 2001). They may also have expectations about what department they are going to work in, what type of work they will be doing, and even the type of hotel industry they will find employment.

Sometimes these expectations are accurate and other times they are based upon misconstrued information. A realistic picture of the hotel and hospitality industry will help students become more aware of the opportunities and expectations that can lead to higher levels of employee retention. Realistic student expectations are a partnership between education and industry.

Managers also have their own expectations of new graduates they hire. Managers wanted interpersonal, problem solving, and self-management above other skills (Raybould & Wilkins, 2005). To them the ability of employees to deal effectively with others and customers was beneficial, solving problems were practical, and self-management allowed for some level of independence.

Skill in international relationships also were lacking in many organizations. These skills are important for the overall development of an international hospitality industry. This international nature of the industry is a result of hotel chain expansion and mobility of educated individuals. It is also helpful in dealing and handling global based customers.

Peshave and Gujarathi (2012) conducted a study on college students that entered into hotel management programs in India. They used personal interviews and a questionnaire of 100 students in two different courses. They believed that students have limited knowledge of programs before they enter them and did not want to be immediately employed in the field.


-At the intermediary level 75% of students had some idea of what they wanted to study.

-A total of 52% wanted to study hotel management versus other related fields.

-A total of 59% made the choices personally without outside influence in their career path.

-Out of all the possible reasons why students chose the field the opportunity to work abroad came out that largest at 37%.

-Those who had some limited knowledge of the industry before entering were 56% while 44% had no clue of the industry.

-College reputation was the most important reason for deciding on a school at 75%.

-Colleges achieved a 82% satisfaction rating.

-Curriculum ratings were 80%.

-At the time of graduation 90% of students felt they made the right decision.

-At the time of graduation 62% felt that they had the same perceptions as when they entered school.

-Out of those who felt their perceptions were different 66% wanted to further their education while the rest felt they were in the wrong industry.

-Of those who graduated only 46% felt they were going to join the career right away.

-Out of those students who want to prolong their careers 63% wanted to pursue higher education.

Business Analysis: Helping students to understand the program and the potential career opportunities at the result of the program will help them be surer about entering a program. Even though the study was conducted in India there are likely to be similarities in American colleges as these same students compete for the same international employment opportunities. Having curriculum tied to practical industry experience can help students to gain a better sense of their fields of studies and its practical applications. Where there are holes in management expectations of graduates skills schools can continue to adjust their program for relevancy.

Jenkins, A. (2001). Making a career of it? Hospitality students’ future perspective: an Anglo-Dutch study. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 13 (1). 

Peshave, M. & Gujarathi, R. (2012). Study of students perception towards selection of hotel management studies and their willingness to pursue their career in the hospitality industry after completion of their course. International Journal of Research in Commerce, Economics & Management, 2 (12). 

Raybould, M. & Wilkins, H. (2005). Over qualified and under experienced: turning graduates into hospitality managers. International Journal of contemporary hospitality management, 17 (3).