A recent analysis of 200 colleges and universities published in the Teachers College Record found that 43 percent of all letter grades awarded in 2008 were A’s, compared to 16 percent in 1960. And Harvard’s student paper recently reported that the median grade awarded to undergraduates at the elite school is now an A-.
“That allowed me to look directly at the influence of course grades on student evaluations,” Johnson said. “As you might expect, the effect of either expected course grade or received course grade is very powerful in student evaluations of teaching. If a student was getting a C in a course, he or she was very unlikely to rate the instructor highly. If they were getting an A in the course, they’re more likely to rate the instructor highly. I think this provides quantitative evidence for something most instructors know: If they grade easier, they will tend to get better course evaluations.”