Opinion

The state of knowledge at UM when grades inflate

Where does knowledge stand at UM? It is our central preoccupation here and we should desire it with a passion and guard its pursuit to any ends. We pay for it and so expect it as is the duty of any institution of higher learning.

This basic right has proven to not always be the case at Miami and it may be that our administration is starting to be sold on some less pure ideals. I am a senior at this school and I offer here not just unfounded opinion but the facts of specific cases from which the truth shall burn forth. Grade inflation has been found at UM.

How did we get here? We’ll start simple: The GPA, the total worth of your assessed intelligence in one easy number, 1.0-4.0. Its purpose is understood, to rank our progress and as problematic as assigning a number to one’s knowledge is, the system is the best we have-when that system is not manipulated.

I present Chemistry 111, 112 and 201 as case studies-courses which 988 students currently attend, not including honors sections. These classes offered grade scales designed to help students pass, but this scale has gotten out of control and taken on the likes of grade inflation. The most dramatic scale occurs in Chem 201 where a 70 now constitutes an A, a 60 a B and so on down the line. This is obscene. Since when are professors allowed to get away with only letting us understand 70% of the material at best?

Is the other 30% of Organic Chemistry useless? Somehow I doubt this and can only feel as though my pursuit of knowledge has taken a back seat to passing students with higher GPAs.

Has this been done for our sake? Do not fool yourself, my fellow seekers of truth. The more of us who pass with higher GPAs means better statistics for the school to attract more students. It is bragging in the form of business. Some of you, who wallow in mediocrity and are short on character, revel in the idea of earning an A while cutting corners. You will look on this essay with contempt, for it may make things a bit harder for you or rather make you do what should be expected of a student. I dare you to write a rebuttal to me and show your true character!

But for the rest of us, the proud students, aware and eager, knowledge is our gas, our purpose here. The fact that the administration is allowing students to walk out of courses with only a 70% understanding is unacceptable to us.

What can be done to restore order to UM’s Chem department?

Adjusting the scale so that 90% is an A certainly will only serve to fail just about every student out of school! We are in the position we are in because professors took the easy route of increasing the scale instead of addressing the real problems with their courses. We don’t understand you!

I offer several ideas to improve the current situation. One: Assess the course material; maybe it was too much or not taught in the best order for students to build on. Two: Take a hard look at the method of teaching done here, and try something different (with a bit of energy, please). We might respond to alternate means of presenting material or styles of teaching, or dare I say grading. Three: take a look at your faculty. Sure they know what a Kreb cycle is, but can they teach it effectively? If not, urge them to attend education programs, get them active about teaching, and get them excited.

In conclusion I have offered examples of only several courses and I believe that they set a dangerous precedent, virtually a virus for the pursuit of knowledge.

To my fellow students: take a hard look at your own courses; maybe the seed of inflation has been planted there as well. To end, I give a call to our administration: read OUR mission statement, take a hard look, and dust it off and make it shine again.

Ryan Driscoll is a senior majoring in environmental science.

September 17, 2002

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It wasn’t long ago when the Miami Hurricanes’ Class of 2020 included the top three rising senior pro ...

Six new Hurricanes football players arrived on campus and began classes Monday, a group including a ...

The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship schedule is set. The No. 4 seed Miami Hurricanes ...

The first regular season of Gino DiMare’s head-coaching era ended Saturday at Mark Light Field. But ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ hopes for hosting an NCAA regional were damaged a bit on Friday night by a 12- ...

Imagine simulating diabetes, lung cancer, or heart disease on a device no larger than a credit card. ...

Alabama’s new abortion law puts the issue of women’s rights in the spotlight for the upcoming 2020 e ...

The University of Miami is shaping the future of education by using innovative approaches that drive ...

Six short films created by University of Miami film students will be screened in Los Angeles this we ...

Researchers from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries, hosted by the Institute for the Advanced ...

Four Miami Hurricanes were among those recognized by the Atlantic Coast Conference Monday for their ...

Top-seeded Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team started her NCAA Singles Cha ...

The Barcelona, Spain, native caps his sophomore campaign with a team-high 21 singles wins. ...

The University of Miami track and field program garnered 20 entries in the 2019 NCAA East Preliminar ...

Miami's schedule features seven matches against teams that reached the NCAA Championship. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.