Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Freshmen Really Are Better!

Every fall we get an email exclaiming how great the new freshman class is. How smart, wonderful, and accomplished they are.

In the math department, we tend not to believe the hype. Every year we see about the same level of performance in our classes. These new, smarter freshmen don't seem to be a real phenomenon.

Today I used our horrible, horrible system for progress reports. Can they even give me my sections in numerical order instead of alphabetical order?

In the past, progress reports were an opt-in phenomenon. Now every freshman is enrolled in this system.

As I was filling the grades for the freshmen, I had to check and make sure that my spreadsheet was calculating things correctly. Nearly every freshman in my big calculus lecture has an A or an A-. So where do the failing students come from? Only 1% of my class is made up of failing freshmen. This isn't enough to add up to a large failing contingent when they repeat the course. Do we really have that many failing transfer students?