Making the Grade: The Academic Side of College Life

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1995 - Education - 150 pages

Based on three years of detailed anthropological observation, this account of undergraduate culture portrays students' academic relations to faculty and administration as one of subjection. With rare intervals in crisis moments, student life has always been dominated by grades and grade point averages. The authors of "Making the Grade "maintain that, though it has taken different forms from tune to time, the emphasis on grades has persisted in academic life. From this premise they argue that the social organization giving rise to this emphasis has remained remarkably stable throughout the century.

Becker, Geer, and Hughes discuss various aspects of college life and examine the degree of autonomy students have over each facet of their lives. Students negotiate with authorities the conditions of campus political and organizational life--the student government, independent student organizations, and the student newspaper--and preserve substantial areas of autonomous action for themselves. Those same authorities leave them to run such aspects of their private lives as friendships and dating as they wish. But, when it comes to academic matters, students are subject to the decisions of college faculties and administrators.

Becker deals with this continuing lack of autonomy in student life in his new introduction. He also examines new phenomena, such as the impact of "grade inflation" and how the world of real adult work has increasingly made professional and technical expertise, in addition to high grades, the necessary condition for success. "Making the Grade "continues to be an unparalleled contribution to the studies of academics, students, and college life. It will be of interest to university administrators, professors, students, and sociologists.

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Studying College Students The Nature of Our Problem
The University of Kansas
The Grade Point Average Perspective
Definition of the Situation Organizational Rules and the Importance of Grades
Definition of the Situation FacultyStudent Interaction
Information and the Organization of Activity
The Pursuit of Grades
Bases of Judgment and Evaluation
Evidence for the Existence of the Grade Point Average

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Page 6 - George H. Mead, Mind, Self and Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1934), and more recently, Heinz Werner and Bernard Kaplan, Symbol Formation (New York: John Wiley, 1963). 14. See, for example, Marshall D. Sahlins, "Culture and Environment: The Study of Cultural Ecology," in Sol Tax (Ed.), Horizons of Anthropology (Chicago: Aldine, 1964), pp.
Page 6 - Becker and his colleagues (1961:34) define a perspective as a coordinated set of ideas and actions a person uses in dealing with some problematic situation, to refer to a person's ordinary way of thinking and feeling about and acting in such a situation.
Page 1 - John Irwin and Donald R. Cressey, "Thieves, Convicts, and the Inmate Culture," Social Problems, 10 (Fall, 1962), pp.
Page 60 - There are a lot of courses where you can learn what's necessary to get the grade and when you come out of the class you don't know anything at all. You haven't learned a damn thing, really. - In fact, if you try to really learn something, it would handicap you as far as getting a grade goes. (Becker, Geer and Hughes, 1968, p 59) The conflict between getting the grade and 'really learning something' can be seen as an unintended side-effect of the assessment system.
Page 6 - The organizing concept they employ is "perspective," defined as: ... a coordinated set of ideas and actions a person uses in dealing with some problematic situation, ... a person's ordinary way of thinking and feeling about and acting in such a situation. These thoughts and actions are coordinated in the sense that the actions flow reasonably, from the actor's perspective, from the ideas contained in the perspective. Similarly, the ideas can be seen by an observer to be one of the possible sets of...
Page x - Education ; now dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences of the University of Illinois...
Page 131 - ... It assumes that student performance depends solely on ability and interest and ignores the complicated network of social relations, group definitions, and obligations in which students find themselves. It sees student performance as a simple response to the professor's offerings rather than as the construction of a complex line of action in a complicated and demanding social setting. It underestimates students' rationality in attempting to meet and satisfy the many demands made on them.
Page 79 - At least two courses of instruction shall be provided, each requiring four years' work, namely, a college preparatory course which shall fully prepare those who complete it to enter the freshman class of the college of liberal arts and sciences of the University of Kansas, and a general course, designed for those who do not intend to continue school work beyond the high school.
Page 3 - ... 22 Theodore M. Newcomb, Personality and Social Change, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1943, esp. Ch. 8.
Page 124 - Howard S. Becker and Blanche Geer, "Participant Observation: The Analysis of Qualitative Field Data,

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