**Managing Grade Expectations in Large
Classes**

Ben Eggleston

Department of Philosophy

September 27, 2010

__Class no.
1: introductory lecture and survey of initial beliefs (twenty questions): __

3. What grade do you
think you are most likely to end up with in this class?

(A) A

(B) B

(C) C

(D) D

(E) F

4. Based
on your impressions of your own background and abilities, and your impressions
or preconceptions about students at KU, think about what percentage of the
students in this class you think you will do *at least as well as* or *better
than* (in this class), as opposed to those who you think will do better than
you (in this class). Which of the following comes closest to accurately
representing what you think?

(A) I think I will do at least as well
as, or better than, 90 percent of the students in this class.

(B) I think I will do at least as well
as, or better than, 70 percent of the students in this class.

(C) I think I will do at least as well
as, or better than, 50 percent of the students in this class.

(D) I think I will do at least as well
as, or better than, 30 percent of the students in this class.

(E) I think I will do at least as well
as, or better than, 10 percent of the students in this class.

19. Suppose
that, when this semester is over, a person were to look at the ARTS forms of
all the students in this class and write down the grades they earned in this
class. Then suppose they computed the average—a course GPA, in effect, as
opposed to a student GPA. What do you figure the average would be?

(A) I would predict the course GPA to
be an A.

(B) I would predict the course GPA to
be a B.

(C) I would predict the course GPA to
be a C.

(D) I would predict the course GPA to
be a D.

(E) I would predict the course GPA to
be an F.

__Class no.
2: second lecture, prefaced by results from the survey (six Powerpoint
slides):__

__Slides 1 and 2:__

[pre-course comprehension of
material, motivations for taking class, etc.]

__Slide 3:__

- The most striking results
of the survey had to do with your expectations about grades.

- When asked (1) to say what
grade you think you are most likely to end up with in this class and (2) to predict the average of the grades earned by all of the
students in this class at the end of the semester (a course GPA, in effect, as
opposed to a student GPA), your responses yielded some interesting results:

__Slide 4:__

- 187 of you predicted that
you would get a letter grade *higher* than what you predicted for the
course average.

- Only 2 of you predicted
that you would get a letter grade *lower* than what you predicted for the
course average.

__Slide 5:__

- You were also asked to
predict what percentage of the students in this class you will do at least as
well as, or better than. This, in effect, asks you to specify some number *n*
such that you would predict that you will end up in
the top *n* percent of the class. And here's the astounding thing:

__Slide 6:__

- *More than 98 percent of
you predicted that you would end up in the top half of the class.*