Getting an “A” at Harvard is e-z!

Unfortunately students can be quite focused on their grades, and as a result I end up paying more attention to grading than I would like. By the way let me point out that ‘grading’ is more than assigning a grade to a bit of homework. Without going into detail, you have to decide and communicate:

  1. What all the gradable items of work are (e.g. a programming assignment, a reading assignment, a test, a presentation, a mockup or prototype, etc. etc.)
  2. Your logical scheme for assigning a grade to a work item. That is, what is an “A” for a programming assignment? For a particular presentation, etc.)
  3. What the relative weighting is of each grade is
  4. What formula you use to convert all the individual work item grades to a final grade

And then when you are teaching you have to stick to what you decided and communicated because you can be sure someone will ask for an explanation. 

I just had a converation about this today with some students. So in this mindset I was amused / intereste to read this article:

The most commonly awarded grade at Harvard is an A – Quartz:

“The median grade in Harvard College is indeed an A-,” the school’s dean of education said today, according to the student newspaper. Even more stunning: “The most frequently awarded grade in Harvard College is actually a straight A.”

Now. Harvard will probably say, and maybe reasonably, that it’s so hard to get into Harvard that all the students deserve the grades they get because that’s just how good they are!

Gender Equity at Harvard: great article

Harvard Business School Case Study – Gender Equity –

The administrators and the class of 2013 were parting ways, their experiment continuing. The deans vowed to carry on but could not say how aggressively: whether they were willing to revise the tenure process to attract more female contenders, or allow only firms that hired and promoted female candidates to recruit on campus. “We made progress on the first-level things, but what it’s permitting us to do is see, holy cow, how deep-seated the rest of this is,” Ms. Frei said.


Harvard Business School: No Women Entrepreneurs

I was surfing around preparing for my class and happened to look at this page on the Harvard Business School web site. The page is called “Entrepreneurs” and it says, among other things:

“A video archive that captures insights from learning members of the School’s entrepreneurial community. Entrepreneurs speak on a common set of themes including their development as entrepreneurs, strategies for identifying opportunity, and leadership. (from Harvard Business School)

Notice anything?

Screen Shot 2013 01 12 at 4 08 43 PM

Not a single female in the picture. (And only a single female on the whole list, Orit Gadiesh) I got to thinking, there are lots of prominent female entrepreneurs. Are we to conclude that for some reason HBS isn’t generating them or that they were just overlooked by whoever made this page?

[EDUCATION] Is the innovators’ dilemma coming to higher ed?

An interesting fact:

“In the last years of the nineteenth century, Charles Dow created an index of 12 leading industrial companies. Almost none of them exist today….[…]… Four years after Dow invented his average, a group of 14 leading research institutions created the Association of American Universities. All of them exist today.” (fromThe Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak)

The article goes on to talk about where Higher Ed’s staying power has come from: 

“I think that rule is going to change, and soon. Many factors explain the endurance of higher education institutions—the ascent of the knowledge economy, their crucial role in upper-middle class acculturation, our peculiar national enthusiasm for college sports—but the single greatest asset held by traditional colleges and universities is their exclusive franchise for the production and sale of higher education credentials.  (fromThe Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak)

The question arises: how long will those credentials continue to be worth so much money? Every day we read in the paper about a new educational entrepreneur (yours truly included) who wants to offer valuable and relevant educational opportunities outside the University walls, to bring it to a wider and underserved cohort, and for a more realistic cost.

I love teaching at Brandeis University and hope to continue doing it for a long while to come. At the same time I believe there is a major unmet demand from Computer Science students and career changers for a super intense introduction to what I like to call Applied Computer Science, with a strong focus on doing and building products. I feel that what we are trying to achieve is a clear part of the trends covered in The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak)