Who’s complacent?, stress reduction edition lower the value of signaling

by on August 8, 2017 at 2:38 pm in Education, Uncategorized | Permalink

A University of Georgia professor has adopted a “stress reduction policy” that will allow students to select their own grades if they “feel unduly stressed” by the ones they earned.

According to online course syllabi for two of Dr. Richard Watson’s fall business courses, he has introduced the policy because “emotional reactions to stressful situations can have profound consequences for all involved.”

Here is a bit more, but you get the idea.  On RateMyProfessor, some considered him tough.

1 Anonymous August 8, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Related (or possibly the Straussian connection): https://news.vice.com/story/trump-folder-positive-news-white-house

2 Moo cow August 8, 2017 at 2:48 pm

Hahahahaaaaaahaha! Omg. Of course he does.

3 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Only twice a day? Clearly, his staff – well, better said, the RNC war room warriors – still needs to step up their game.

4 JWatts August 8, 2017 at 3:21 pm

I see your getting that your news from Vice. That explains a lot.

5 Anonymous August 8, 2017 at 3:38 pm

I get my news from Memeorandum and Twitter. You should try it. It guarantees a broad input.

One scary example hot off the presses:


Seriously, if AP is right on that, we verge on worst case scenarios.

6 Anonymous August 8, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Full quote: https://twitter.com/KatyTurNBC/status/895005817564475392

As I understand it, the “mad man” theory of diplomacy only works when just one man/side tries to appear “mad,” and that two “mad men” one up each other until …

7 dan1111 August 9, 2017 at 3:15 am

…one is constrained by the checks and balances of a robust democracy?

8 Anonymous August 9, 2017 at 9:16 am

If it is two men who think (even wrongly) that the test of will is man to man, escalation can happen without Congress. That, and


9 Anonymous August 9, 2017 at 9:17 am

But yes, let us hope saner heads prevail.

10 mhl August 8, 2017 at 2:50 pm

Some of his former students expressed shock when, after leaving school and getting a job, they weren’t allowed to choose their own salary.

11 prior_test3 August 8, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Or write whatever they wanted about their employer.

12 Brian Donohue August 8, 2017 at 3:27 pm

We are all capitalists now?

13 Thor August 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Or engage in relatively harmless speculation about gender differences?

14 Miguel Madeira August 9, 2017 at 7:01 am


15 Ray Lopez August 8, 2017 at 2:51 pm

I got a “D” in math once in uni from a tough grading professor who was so unpopular the most popular professor had to first ask for volunteers then randomly assign students to take the tough professor’s class. I was foolish enough to volunteer…never again. In the next semester, when I repeated the class with another professor, I got an “A”.

16 PseudoRegister August 8, 2017 at 4:56 pm

Sounds more like poor professor than a tough grader. I mean: it’s math. It’s not like he was grading your correct answers “harder” than the one from whom you earned the A. The difference is (assuming it’s them and not you) that the latter provided the skills and knowledge you needed to find the correct response; the first didn’t.

17 Careless August 8, 2017 at 11:05 pm

You almost owed me a new laptop for making me spit my drink out all over it.

Yeah, there’s no difference at all between what’s taught in and tested on in various math classes with the same name. None at all.

18 PseudoRegister August 8, 2017 at 11:58 pm

I’m the one who fails just about any collegiate math class no matter how good the professor or how easy the grader.

19 Komori August 9, 2017 at 11:38 am

Poor professor on what metric, though? I had one of those math teachers at university as well, but it was well known he was doing it because he hated teaching and was only interested in the research. He did the grading that way to drive students away from his class so he didn’t have to bother with them and take time away from his grants. The university may have been okay with this if his published output was high enough to compensate.

20 rayward August 8, 2017 at 2:55 pm

State schools have any number of approaches to recruit high caliber students. In Georgia, the Hope Scholarship program has kept many very good high school students in Georgia for college (in particular, at UGA), which has raised UGA’s ranking (rankings are based on the caliber of the students, so they are mutually reinforcing) and made it very difficult to get admitted to UGA (even more difficult than some of the Ivies). But it’s also not a secret that, once admitted, not that much is expected of the students. That may offend some folks in Georgia, but this is common knowledge. Of course, it may not be true even if it is common knowledge. A friend sent his very smart daughter to UGA because of the Hope Scholarship. After her freshman year, she told her parents she would stay at UGA if that’s what they wanted, but she wanted them to know that she would not have to study to get all As. They agreed to let her transfer. No, I did not attend UGA, but I did attend a state school (many years ago), the big difference back then being that it wasn’t necessary to attend one of the elite schools in order to have a shot at a very good career.

21 rayward August 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm

An aside, my Godson attends that college in Chicago, a place not for anyone seeking stress reduction. I assume the kids who apply there and are fortunate enough to be admitted understand what they are in for.

22 A clockwork orange August 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm

That codfish also eat scaffolding is something James Joyce made clear in his classification of debris, scree, flotsam, oakum, sea wrack, agneis, Shakti, and is a sign.

23 Ricardo August 8, 2017 at 3:39 pm

I saw something a while back about some illicit operation that used blog comments to communicate using a secret code. I think that’s what is happening here.

24 Thiago Ribeiro August 8, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Like a numbers station. Think well, most comments here make more sense as a secret code than anything else.

25 GondwanaMan August 8, 2017 at 4:08 pm

UGA students are retards compared to Georgia Tech students. Average IQ of 110 vs. 125.

26 GondwanaMan August 8, 2017 at 4:09 pm

There’s some smart people in the Honors program and Foundation Fellowship but they’re mostly Ivy rejects.

27 Bill August 8, 2017 at 4:25 pm

If so, the Ivy rejects do as well or better than the Ivy grads. Look up the work by Krueger on earnings and the Ivy’s, which he wrote while at Princeton.

28 A clockwork orange August 8, 2017 at 9:56 pm

Please focus on the great depression and read something about the grapes of wrath. In 1940, John Ford and John Steinbeck knew that Gandhi would die with five dollars in his pocket. Ride it out, and see what they say. Maybe you only pay fifteen dollars an hour, and if you want to hire men, go ahead and listen to the trouble makers. You ain’t allowed to contract men without a license.

Look at brosef. 31 March[n 2] 1732 – 31 May 1809, 2, 45, 81 in dividends, 1873, 1873! Eureka I say. A truth-teller.

The Keplers, I repeat, speculate — theorize — and their theories are merely corrected — reduced — sifted — cleared, little by little, of their chaff of inconsistency — until at length there stands apparent an unencumbered Consistency. Noam Chomsky! Avram Noam Chomsky!!

But Flannery O’Connor wrote of 1832, so please focus on Haydn. In 1832 on 3/24, In Hiram, Ohio, a group of men beat, tar and feather Mormon leader Joseph Smith! And on 3/22, Goethe died! This is too thick! The Augustan poet Crabbe died on 2/3. But on 1/23 Manet was born! And 4 days later, Lewis Carol was Born.

Abraham Lincoln served as a volunteer in the Illinois Militia from April 21, 1832 – July 10, 1832 during the Black Hawk War

29 Butler T. Reynolds August 8, 2017 at 6:42 pm

^^ Written by a Tech student.

30 Baby August 8, 2017 at 4:33 pm

Well, I ‘Hope’ I got a job one day

31 Thor August 8, 2017 at 5:10 pm

“the big difference back then being that it wasn’t necessary to attend one of the elite schools in order to have a shot at a very good career.”

I am afraid I must beg to differ. My academic teachers and mentors — some of whom are deceased and some of whom are in their 70s and 80s — went to: Harvard, Yale, Berkeley. My supervisor went to Princeton. Back then you needed to attend an elite / thoroughly upper tier school. That is no longer the case, unless (admittedly) you wish to teach at an Ivy.

32 Butler T. Reynolds August 8, 2017 at 6:39 pm

“That may offend some folks in Georgia, but this is common knowledge.”

No, it’s not. If it’s common knowledge then you wouldn’t have to say it. Leave the rivalry nonsense at the football stadiums.

33 Careless August 8, 2017 at 11:08 pm

made it very difficult to get admitted to UGA (even more difficult than some of the Ivies)

Man, you’re stupid. The 75th percentile of UGA admits would have zero shot at any Ivy if they were white or Asian, let alone the 50th.

34 Drew August 8, 2017 at 3:12 pm

You might want to double check your sources on this one. The article cited by the article you link to has already issued a correction (though they say it is due to the professor retracting the element.) Given the tone of the writing, I would strongly suspect there is greater context at play here.

35 Dzhaughn August 8, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Indeed, he might have a sense of humor, given that he is Australian. Given than he is over 30, he cannot be trusted, and may not be experienced with the way media pick up on this sort of thing these days.

36 Evan August 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm

I suspect that he probably received some sort of directive from the “administration” that he needed to reduce the stress of his students. In response, he probably wrote this to try and reduce his own stress. It’s almost certain he never intended it to get out, but I do hope he at least sent a copy to the “administration”.

37 Dzhaughn August 8, 2017 at 3:24 pm

I would consider the suggested 24 hour waiting period before submitting a grade change request to be a very stressful thing. Of course, waiting is optional, but asking adds stress to an already implicitly stressful situation.

38 Hazel Meade August 8, 2017 at 4:10 pm

Are the names of people who selected their own grades publicly available for shaming?

39 Bill August 8, 2017 at 4:23 pm

What do you think the correlation is between hard grading and the student review of the professor on Rate Your Professors?

Do professors lower their standards and grade easier to get a higher rating?

Do chickens cross the road?

40 Dzhaughn August 8, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Chickens do cross roads, but we do not understand why.

I think the correlation is complicated. Standing out one way or the other is the key to getting lots of bad ratings.

41 NF August 8, 2017 at 4:45 pm

I taught at two colleges for a total of 3.5 years. My unstated policy was any student I thought was crazy enough to shoot me always got the grade they wanted.

No joke: one of those crazy students demanded an F instead of an FA (failure to attend). He got his F!

42 Nick_L August 8, 2017 at 5:02 pm

It’s a slightly different interpretation on the theme of ‘average is over’, no?

43 Ben August 8, 2017 at 5:07 pm

I favor rules-based grading schemes consistent throughout an institution and published so that admissions committees know the extent to which A’s were hard-nosed or fluffy. The differences in grading practices among professors is substantial, and this radically damages the signaling value of grades distributed.

What’s the signaling value of an a grade when an A in Dr. Smith’s class means you know it cold, while an A in Dr. Jones’ class means you sorta have it and he’s really a nice guy?

44 Pops August 8, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Kids these dayshttps://www.thehairpin.com/2017/08/buy-a-longer-iphone-cord/

45 Mike W August 8, 2017 at 7:06 pm

What difference do grades in university make? Students either learn the material or they don’t.

46 prior_test3 August 9, 2017 at 2:27 am

Or you just take course pass/fail. Making the assumption that there is something to actually learn in the class, of course.

47 dan1111 August 9, 2017 at 3:49 am

If you just want to “learn the material” but don’t care about having evidence of whether you did so for, say, earning a degree or presenting to a potential employer, universities usually make this possible. For example, you can often audit courses.

48 Mike W August 9, 2017 at 9:40 am

Of course a student wants the sheepskin, but who cares what his GPA was?

49 Mark Thorson August 8, 2017 at 7:31 pm

I would be stressed if I earned an A which was devalued by others who received an unearned A. I would demand a AAA+++ with oak leaves.

50 Derek August 8, 2017 at 8:23 pm

I have to wonder if this is serious or just a very late April Fool’s joke.

51 Moo cow August 8, 2017 at 9:50 pm

I got a C+ once. To my undying shame I “complained.” I didn’t think I was complaining at the time.

I never, ever, ever did anything like that again.

I suppose these days I could have gotten him fired.

52 dux.ie August 9, 2017 at 12:08 am

Many students have ‘quantum’ IQs and performance anxiety, the mere fact of trying to assess their performance with tests, due dates, competitive group dynamics will degrade their performance. The OECD PISA data has shown that the students in about 75% of the countries surveyed have such characteristics. These students might feel that they deserve more credits for their efforts. It is these 75% of the students that will be the dominant factor in the rating of the professors. Hence the ‘quantum’ student assessment procedures.

Incidentally, rather than analysing using self assessed stress characteristics, an analysis using one of the objectively determined population genetic of the so called ‘warrior’ COMT gene, e.g. rs4680 allele G which characterizes stress resilience https://www.snpedia.com/index.php/Rs4680
(not to confuse with the ‘warrior’ MAOA gene which characterizes aggression and anti-social behaviour, https://www.snpedia.com/index.php/Rs909525%28G;G%29 ) I would rather call COMT the ‘grit gene’.

For the upper fork of the PISA vs ComtGFrq graph,

PISA3 = +883.735*ComtGFreqU -137.259; # n=20; Rsq=0.5526; p=0.0001726

which is neo statistically significant with the stricter cutoff at p=0.005 rather than the classical p=0.05

However, the populations interested by the OECD economists are mostly not interested by the genetists and so the lower fork is missing dispite a small hint of its existence, resulting in the regression is not significant,

PISA3 = -251.265*ComtGFreqH +614.487; # n=36; Rsq=0.08606; p=0.08248

compare to that from self assessed variable WantBestPct,

PISA3 = -1.84514*WantBestPct +577.961; # n=43; Rsq=0.5864; p=2.192e-09

US whites are represented by the CEU sample where ComtGFreq=0.535 which is less than the value at the junction of the two forks at ComtGFreq=0.5677 , hence on the stress aversed pitchfork handle.

The COMT results show alternate paths to ‘performance’ and so is PC. However the effects could be overhelmed by the stress resulting from the susceptibility to PTSD from bullying as characterizes by some other genes, the results of which are not PC and so I better end here. 🙂

53 BC August 9, 2017 at 4:53 am

Consider the following two trains of thought:

(1) Healthcare is a basic right. Making incomes more equal makes health insurance more equally affordable. Incomes are correlated with college education. Giving everyone the same grades will make incomes more equal, lowering the incomes of high achievers and raising the incomes of low achievers. Thus, professors should assign all students an A grade.

(2) Healthcare is a basic right. Making incomes more equal makes health insurance more equally affordable. Taxes, mandates, and subsidies can make after-transfer incomes more equal, lowering the after-transfer incomes of high achievers and raising the after-transfer incomes of low achievers. Thus, we should use taxes, mandates, and subsidies to make after-transfer incomes more equal.

For those that agree with (2) but disagree with (1), please explain why.

54 Miguel Madeira August 9, 2017 at 7:07 am

I think the main difference is between “Thus, professors should assign all students an A grade.” and “Thus, we should (…) make after-transfer incomes more equal”; in first case, we are talking about absolute equality, in the second only about reducing inequality (“more equal” is a different way of saying “less unequal”); it seems only a small difference, but in incentives and information, zero inequality and very few inequality could make a big difference.

55 BC August 9, 2017 at 9:09 am

Fine. So, should professors turn A’s into B’s and D’s into C’s? Also, what is the “right” amount of inequality, other than “less than whatever currently exists”?

56 Anonymous Coward August 10, 2017 at 8:40 pm

> For those that agree with (2) but disagree with (1), please explain why.

Making outcomes more equal (say, with progressive taxation) is not the same as removing all incentive to succeed.

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