Don’t try this at home

The administration at Louisiana State University removed a professor from the classroom for grading too harshly. Evidently, Professor Homberger gives tough multiple choice exams that aren’t curved, the logic being that “students must achieve mastery of the subject matter, not just achieve more mastery than the worst students in the course.”

I’m sympathetic to her.  Why give a student a decent grade if s/he doesn’t know what’s going on?

But, on the first exam she flunked 90% of the class, and enough of the students whined and moaned that the administration gave her the hook.

I’m sympathetic to the students. About the harsh grading, not the whining.

The irony is that her tough standards seemed to be having a positive effect: “[Homberger] said that her tough policy was already having an impact, and that the grades on her second test were much higher (she was removed from teaching right after she gave that exam), and that quiz scores were up sharply. Students got the message from her first test, and were working harder, she said.”

I think she might be on to something.  Incentives matter, as they say. And we’ve seen before,  students do seem to work harder when they aren’t handed high grades.

Fortunately for her, she’s tenured and probably would get a nice fat settlement if push came to shove here. Of course, if she wasn’t tenured, she might think twice before busting out the big red pen.