Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:35PM   Printer-friendly
from the this-will-not-be-controversial-oh-no-sir dept.

GungnirSniper writes:

"Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post has 'A message to the nation's women: Stop trying to be straight-A students.'

In her analysis of others' findings, she writes of a discouragement gradient that pushes women out of harder college degrees, including economics and other STEM degrees. Men do not seem to have a similar discouragement gradient, so they stay in harder degree programs and ultimately earn more. Data suggests that women might also value high grades more than men do and sort themselves into fields where grading curves are more lenient.

'Maybe women just don't want to get things wrong,' Goldin hypothesized. 'They don't want to walk around being a B-minus student in something. They want to find something they can be an A student in. They want something where the professor will pat them on the back and say "You're doing so well!"'

'Guys,' she added, 'don't seem to give two damns.'

Why are women in college moving away from harder degrees?"

 
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Silentknyght on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:53PM

    by Silentknyght (1905) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @08:53PM (#15518)

    The college majors that tend to lead to the most profitable professions are also the stingiest about awarding A’s. Science departments grade, on a four-point scale, an average of 0.4 points lower than humanities departments, according to a 2010 analysis of national grading data by Stuart Rojstaczer and Christopher Healy.

    I'd argue the problem is highlighted in the first real paragraph of the article: bad professor-student feedback.

    If you're in college and have many relatively-equal options to select when deciding on a career, why wouldn't you logically choose something at which you seem to perform well?

    The solution: Grade normalization. Seriously. There's no reason for STEM professors to grade 0.4 points lower, on average. Either they should raise grades or the humanities classes should lower them. My vote is on the former, having experienced first-hand these kinds of processors that seem to perversely delight in delivering below-average grades.

    ~SK

    Starting Score:    1  point
    Moderation   +4  
       Insightful=4, Total=4
    Extra 'Insightful' Modifier   0  

    Total Score:   5  
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by GeminiDomino on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:21PM

    by GeminiDomino (661) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:21PM (#15539)

    I disagree. From my Uni experience, I think the real difference lies in the fact that STEM classes usually have objectively correct answers, whereas things like Humanities, Literature, etc.. are generally graded much more subjectively.

    --
    "We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Grishnakh on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:58PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:58PM (#15568)

      I don't think that's really a big difference at all. Engineering classes are notoriously hard, but even there they usually grade on a curve. I remember lots of classes where a score of 40 on an exam turned out to be a B+ or better. It doesn't matter if half of your answers are objectively wrong when all your classmates also got half the answers wrong. If the highest grade is a 50, then that's an A+.

      If the humanities classes are still giving out higher average grades, that's because they're not curving correctly. In their case, they need to be curving grades down.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by mhajicek on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:05PM

        by mhajicek (51) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:05PM (#15574)

        I think grading on a curve is inherently wrong. If you design a bridge which collapses and kills people, is it made better by someone else designing an even worse bridge?

        --
        The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:33PM

          by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:33PM (#15583) Journal

          I think grading on a curve is inherently wrong. If you design a bridge which collapses and kills people, is it made better by someone else designing an even worse bridge?

          You're assuming taking a test is the same as designing a bridge. They're not really comparable tasks. Unfortunately, when moving a hundred or more students through a "___ 101" class, it's really hard to come up with ways to assess how well the students are learning that bear much resemblance to the tasks they'll be doing with their knowledge once they complete their degrees.

          --
          Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by etherscythe on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:06AM

            by etherscythe (937) on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:06AM (#15622) Journal

            Correct me if I'm wrong, but a test that does not determine skills and knowledge of procedure which go into the practical application of the degree field is simply a failure of the test. Seriously, if the test does not reflect what the graduate is expected to be able to do, what are we testing for? And if the people building our bridges haven't shown they are qualified to do so, what the hell good was the degree to begin with?

            --
            "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
            • (Score: 1) by tibman on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:56AM

              by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:56AM (#15652)

              You are assuming that college is for producing educated people and not just collecting money. There is a lot of business pressure to get people through and not see them fail mid-way (and stop paying).

              --
              SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
              • (Score: 2) by nitehawk214 on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:32PM

                by nitehawk214 (1304) on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:32PM (#15845)

                College is for educating people. The fact that most colleges simply do not care about providing education is a problem with colleges, not with everyone else.

                --
                "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Daniel Dvorkin on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:07AM

              by Daniel Dvorkin (1099) on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:07AM (#15680) Journal

              The pessimistic answer is that yes, the tests themselves are failures ... and that's why bridges fall down.

              The somewhat more optimistic answer is that you can't practically test for the ability to carry out complex, long-term projects in a classroom setting, but you can test the basic skills that are prerequisites for those projects--and that grading on a curve is just an acknowledgement that those skills are a lot harder to demonstrate in an hour-long closed-book exam than they are on the job, when you (hopefully) have reference materials available and the time to use them. Which is somewhat supported by the fact that most bridges don't fall down, I suppose.

              --
              Pipedot [pipedot.org]:Soylent [soylentnews.org]::BSD:Linux
            • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Kell on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:44AM

              by Kell (292) on Thursday March 13 2014, @07:44AM (#15755)

              Hi - tertiary engineering educator here. Hoo boy, believe me it is very hard to build assessment that is fair, balanced, and well-targeted for difficulty. When it comes to teaching the questions that keeps me up at night are "Have I made the project too hard?" and "Have I made the project too easy?" Either scenario is a disaster for the course.
               
              On the topic of bell-curves: they are a way of doing "automatic gain adjustment" on your marking scheme, and is usually a fairly robust technique given large, and fairly homogenous classes. Oddly, the major complaints about bell curves come from the good students who actually benefit from such a scheme - they know it's unfair, but generally if you're smart enough to recognise the issue, you're not the one on the bottom of the heap.
               
              That said, I don't use them either - I use competency-based assessment, which I feel is fairer to everybody, but it always difficult to design good assessment that doesn't break too many eggs (or not enough).

              --
              Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by velex on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:51PM

        by velex (2068) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @11:51PM (#15611) Journal

        I don't think GP was talking about grading on a curve, although you might have a point about humanities not curving correctly. otoh, I avoid those classes like the plague because I can't rightly comprehend why having long hair is like being raped. I've never been raped or oppressed by my long hair, but I suppose it's different for cis women.

        That aside, I think what GP was getting at was that cis women abhor fields with objectively correct and incorrect answers. The idea that somebody else might come along and tell a cis woman that she's wrong and produce a reason that can't be argued is intimidating to her, especially if the person providing the correct answer/method/showing her where her process went wrong doesn't have a lot of sex appeal.

        Mod me down (and after this happened to me I eventually did decide to become sexist--what else to do and why not?) but showing a cis woman where she's objectively wrong can get you called sexist to your face for no other reason than you weren't assigned the same gender at birth as say Ada Lovelace.

        Now, over in humanities, there are really no right or wrong answers. It all comes down to how persuasive one can be and how open one is to toeing the prevalent biases and dogmas. I suppose, having realized that, I shouldn't be afraid of humanities, since I probably could these days write one heck of an argument about why it's absolutely correct that having long hair represents oppression by the patriarchy. The trouble is that it would be all bullshit, frankly. That's the point, though. Over in humanities, as long as you're a good bullshitter, you get a good grade. I've met very few cis women whose first refuge in a disagreement wasn't bullshit.

        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:34AM

          by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:34AM (#15674) Homepage

          Sad to say I agree with you... a viewpoint I arrived at from being subjected to a number of such arguments from the feminazi camp. And to think I used to be all for women's lib and such.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
        • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by FuckBeta on Thursday March 13 2014, @11:49AM

          by FuckBeta (1504) on Thursday March 13 2014, @11:49AM (#15807) Homepage

          These women don't have objective standards. Think about this for a minute.

          Right or wrong to them comes from whether their social group approves or disapproves. Now what sort of morality do you have with no objective measures of right and wrong?

          And this is exactly why they are intimidated by hard sciences.

          "especially if the person providing the correct answer/method/showing her where her process went wrong doesn't have a lot of sex appeal."

          Too true.

          --
          Quit Slashdot...because Fuck Beta!
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:33PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:33PM (#16351)

            These women don't have objective standards.

            Which women? The ones in the study? Velex's hypothetical "cis women [who] abhor fields with objectively correct and incorrect answers"? All women?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:27PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:27PM (#16346)

          I can't rightly comprehend why having long hair is like being raped.

          Nor can I. Who is saying that?

           

          ... women abhor fields with objectively correct and incorrect answers. The idea that somebody else might come along and tell a cis woman that she's wrong and produce a reason that can't be argued is intimidating to her ...

          Interesting hypothesis. My hypothesis is that men are on average even worse than women at dealing with situations where they are proved wrong.

      • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:50AM

        by davester666 (155) on Thursday March 13 2014, @12:50AM (#15639)

        that's why they are in humanities...they are bad at math.

        and they are too cheap to pay somebody who knows math to do it right.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tftp on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:16AM

      by tftp (806) on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:16AM (#15646) Homepage

      I think the real difference lies in the fact that STEM classes usually have objectively correct answers, whereas things like Humanities, Literature, etc.. are generally graded much more subjectively.

      I had a HUGE problem with that subjectivity with literature in HS. My mind does not handle fuzzy solutions well. For every problem I seek a clear definition, a clear method of solving it, and a well defined solution (as much as it is definable.) This works fine for math, physics, geography, or any other study where there is always a fixed, logically provable relation between Q and A. I had no problems with physics, even in university - where some math became pretty abstract [wikipedia.org]. Some devices are a puzzle, like Magic Tee [wikipedia.org], but they all have solutions, and you can always arrive to them step by step. There are no "feelings" involved.

      Compared to that, literature is all subjective. To begin with, you have to read a book that you hate with a passion. (There are no robots in it, and no terawatt hand blasters, and no scientific puzzle - most books that we were given were all about feelings - things that no normal boy would have, or would confess that he has :-) Perhaps some learned professors, somewhere far, far away decreed that every 14 years old boy must read the War and Peace and grok all those love/hate affairs. It's impossible. The teachers would ask silly questions like "Why the hero $a fell in love the girl $b?" - the only logical answer to that would be "because he had nothing better to do and wanted entertainment," or "because he had a chemical imbalance in his body" :-) How well would that fly with a teacher? I cannot simply imagine the reasons that do not exist in (a) the real world or (b) in a sufficiently defined abstract world. I cannot calculate the reasons that the teacher would be happy with. I hated this stuff, and I still do.

      Would I ever go into the field of Humanities, even if it offered me highest ever grades and salary? No, of course not. The thing is alien to me. I would assume that someone who is attuned to the "feelings" thing may hate Hendrik Lorenz and Sir William Rowan Hamilton with a passion. It is not that simple to choose between hard math and softy, pinky, teary stuff of pure fantasy. You have to have a certain affinity to the field; without it you will hate your job, and you will have no career, and you may eventually have to "rediscover yourself" at the age of 35, with family on your hands and with mortgage, and with zero chances to enter the field that you should have entered at the age of 20. There is one good rule of choosing job: pick what you love to do, no matter the wage. Not everyone can (there are too few jobs that pay for drinking beer and watching TV,) but it's a good direction to follow.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:54AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @01:54AM (#15651)

        And you wonder why you fail! There is no try, do humanities, or do not. People who think it is bs usually fail because they really are not able to detect bs the way someone educated in the humanities can.

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:29AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:29AM (#15672) Homepage

      Not only that, but when that math or engineering will eventually build bridges and skyscrapers and jets, I'd kinda prefer that it was graded hard to weed out the duds before they can go forth and kill us with lousy computations.

      --
      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Ethanol-fueled on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:31PM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Wednesday March 12 2014, @09:31PM (#15544) Homepage

    I agree with you about grade normalization, but it's a two-way street - if we're going to normalize STEM grades then the now-rampant problem of grade inflation should be dealt with appropriately.

    Most of us know that, back in the day, the field of computation was full of women because it was thought of as more clerical work. Teachers were allowed to discipline their students without fear of lawsuits, parents did parenting and pushed their kids rather than make excuses, and students were generally more disciplined and eloquent. There was none of the "check your CIS privilege" bullshit which is nothing but excuses for shortcomings.

    With STEM coursework, for the most part it's about getting the answers right or wrong, which leaves a lot less wiggle-room for women to claim sexism and minorities to claim racism. In fact, short of fucking your professor, there is no way to argue your way out of terrible math skills. You suck at math, you hit the damn books. If you can't do quantum physics, you settle for Computer Science or Econ or Chemistry.

    In my opinion, there should be none of this "affirmative action" or "diversity" bullshit. However, in my magical world, college should be affordable, accessable, and run like institutions of higher-learning rather than businesses. You take away the bitchers' and moaners' excuses, and you see that there's nothing left to argue with except the bellowing of hot air. And I say this as somebody who spent 10 years in community college before finally getting my A.S. Onward, HO!*

    * see what I did there?

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:40AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 13 2014, @03:40AM (#15676) Homepage

      ...There was none of the "check your CIS privilege" bullshit which is nothing but excuses for shortcomings....

      And that observation applies all across life.

      As to what you did there... I think you need another hydrogen atom. ;)

      --
      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:41PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 12 2014, @10:41PM (#15588) Journal

    The solution: Grade normalization.

    Your solution is wrong. Seriously.

    Grades are (or should be) a measurement. As such, they are a mean, not a goal - a mean to make an idea about the "the real thing", or a mean to check one stays on track, or a mean by which one can decide to apply feedback and correct the teaching... a mean anyway.

    Normalizing grades between STEM and humanities is based on the view of grades as a goal: the one that chooses to play this game is more likely to "learn how to pass exams" rather than acquire skills and knowledge and attitudes that are actually useful.
    In other words, one will "learn behaviours"; and a nasty behaviour when it comes to that: the compliance - like in "Tell me how you are measuring me and I'll tell you how I behave".
    That's no longer education, that is taming and conditioning.

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:15PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 14 2014, @01:15PM (#16338)

      Normalizing grades between STEM and humanities is based on the view of grades as a goal

      Or maybe it's based on the view that they are a more useful measurement when normalized? Remember, we aren't talking about fundamental units of physics here.

  • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:24AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 13 2014, @04:24AM (#15686)

    Large community college in a major city here. I was in a seminar a week ago, and one of the humanities organizers suggested such things as (a) entirely removing required reading from a course, and (b) following her lead and grading 70% on attendance alone (i.e., get at least a "C" by just showing up with no work or evidence of learning at all). So from what I can tell it's the STEM classes which are standing against the tide of insane grade inflation under the "everyone can haz college diploma" push.