Friday, October 14, 2011

Food for thought

Freakonomics has an interesting discussion on grade non-disclosure policies at top business schools.  They're spot on that students have a huge incentive to keep things the way they are and I agree with the hints that grade non-disclosure does not improve academic learning.  Honestly, my sense of the policy in practice is that it allows students to focus less on classes and more on "networking" if you get my drift.  Companies accept it because top business schools have already screened heavily for students that are smart and work hard. 

However, I would say that (so far) students here are fairly diligent in their studies, just not as thorough or obsessive as they would be if their knowledge was graded. So MBAs learn something, just less than they otherwise would.  Not sure if this is necessarily bad given how busy we already are; something would have to be given up for extra study time.  For many this might be late nights at the bar for sure, but for some other students in my classes it would be time with their kids, church, volunteering, or exercising.  For me, I'd spend less quality time with my SO and less time cooking and exercising.  However, my sense is that for the former group this effect will only become more pronounced and the effects of grade non-disclosure become negative.


If you like this please Link Back to this article...

Related Posts by Categories


  1. Grades aren't the only way to encourage rigor, because professors can still hold students to high standards.

    I went to a small school where that was the case. I remember one student who came to a professor asking why she got so many bad comments when she was certain she wrote a great paper. Turns out, she did. What happened was the professor took the essay to her colleagues to tear up, since she couldn't find much to criticize herself.

    So while students don't worry about grades, professors can still challenge them.

  2. Been a while since I've visited your blog! I'm impressed by the fact that you're able to keep up with the posts after school started. I've completely given up trying to follow any sort of consistent post schedule with all the activities going on.

    I don't know if you ever published what school you were going to, but I'm at Booth right now and we have the grade non-disclosure policy. And in my opinion, the whole grade nondisclosure thing doesn't mean anything. If an employer really wants to find out what you're grades are, they'll just ask questions like whether you made dean's honor list or something, to get a ballpark idea of how classes are going.

    There are literally tons of loopholes around this issue. But I also agree with the point that most of the students here are pretty smart and hard working, so seems like most of the 2nd years i've talked to get good grades regardless.

    Hope school is going well for you!