Those were the days…

by Eszter Hargittai on August 18, 2008

Those were the days... If, like me, you’re not quite ready to start a new work week then I recommend YearbookYouself as an amusing distraction. [UPDATE 8/19/08 5:37am CST: I’m sorry to say that it sounds like the site has not been able to handle its current popularity and does not seem to be responding to requests. I’d try to check back later as it’s very amusing. 8/19/08 12:26CST: Seems to be working again.]

When you click upload and then choose a photo, it’ll start uploading right away (don’t click upload again). Then you can resize, move and rotate the image. Note, however, that you can also do this once the photo has been matched with a style, which is a more efficient way of tweaking the final result.

[Thanks to Techcrunch.]

Grade Inflation

by Harry on August 18, 2008

You might want to check out my colleague Lester Hunt’s excellent new edited collection on Grade Inflation: Academic Standards in Higher Education, which is just out. It originated in a rather well-thought-out conference Lester organized back in 2004. My own contribution arose because he asked me to comment on Valen Johnson’s talk, based on his book Grade Inflation: A Crisis in College Education, and then sneakily inveigled me to contribute a self-standing chapter. The collection is great: genuinely diverse and thoughtful contributions from Clifford Adelman, David T. Beito, Mary Biggs, Richard Kamber, Alfie Kohn, Charles W. Nuckolls, Francis K. Schrag, John D. Wiley and Lester and me. Recommend it to your library, and to your Deans!

In the course of writing my own paper several things happened. I started off assuming (with no real evidence) that grade inflation was real and believing (for no real reasons) that it was bad; I discovered that there is no evidence of grade inflation (which doesn’t, of course, mean that it doesn’t exist) and that the reasons for thinking it would be bad if it did exist are pretty weak. Commenting on Johnson’s book, in other words, convinced me that his subtitle is entirely wrong (even though the book is, actually, terrifically good). It’s not the first time that I have changed my mind as the result of writing a paper, but it is the first that I’ve changed it quite so radically.

I developed, mainly through reading Valen Johnson’s book, a conviction that student evaluations are next to worthless for evaluating teachers. His book also convinced me that grade variation within departments exists and is bad, though not that there is much we can or should do about it.. Finally, I became more and more irritated with Harvey Mansfield’s piece in the Chronicle. So, below the fold, here’s a taster of the book, adapted from my chapter, and arguing specifically against Mansfield:

[click to continue…]