I wrote about SIU's GPA being up before, I wrote about the nationwide trend for GPA being up, but real results being down. I have received comments from professors here, that there is no management pressure to increase your student evaluations and giveaway grades. Here is a strange story I heard recently that I thought would be interesting to share.
A professors is receiving their 5 year review (you know, this is what you will need to do to get tenure next year), has great research, but is only running student evaluations in the mid-3's out of 5. He meets with his Dean and John Dunn (then Provost) and they suggest that he needs to get his evaluations up to received tenure (he has 8 or more good papers).
The administrators suggest giving a "pre-test" to the students. What is a pre-test? It is going over, in detail, what will be on the test. A question by question review of exactly what will be on the test, in the class before the test. I asked what happened, he said he gave the pre-tests and his student evaluations went up to 4.6 out of 5, and he got tenure.
I was standing on campus and this fellow was with a couple of other professors. Everyone was nodding their heads like they believed him. I was very sure he was telling the truth at the time, or at least he believed what he was telling me. I asked how much do you change the pre-test before you give it as the test. He replied, not very much.
It has been many years since I was a student, but I don't remember the professors giving us the test questions before a test (much less working them). Once I got a final from a previous semester of out Morris Library and got an easy A (almost 100%) in a pretty difficult CS class, because the final I was given was a whole lot like it. Maybe this is the new way of doing education? Let me boldly say that if I was given a pre-test in every class, I would have been a straight A student. Without them, I was far less than that.
Is it OK to give this pre-test? I know it is OK to review before a test, but I don't think we are talking about the same thing. Is it OK for the administrators to have a meeting with a professor where they educate the professor on his tenure decision being based on student evaluations?
You know, it could be that SIU students have a higher GPA not because they are studying and learning more, but instead because management is using methods to drive it higher? I suspect that this pressure isn't just here at SIU, but is a society wide pressure for higher grades. I really wonder if the sky would fall if SIU started to strive for quality in results from students, instead of pandering.
As always, your comments are welcome.