Broke-woke-stroke phenomenon lowers college standards, erases learning

college professor

College instructors are “inflating grades and watering down their courses,” note three professors in Inside Higher Ed. The “broke-woke-stroke” convergence pressures professor to lower standards, they found.

The three men conducted a national survey of tenured professors in math, English, and sociology at public universities of average quality.

  • 48% of tenured faculty agree that grade inflation is a serious problem, compared to 21% who disagree.

  • 47% agree that academic standards have declined in recent years, compared to 27% who disagree.

  • 37% admit to routinely inflating grades.

  • 33% admit to reducing the rigor of their courses over the years.

  • 23% admit to sometimes feeling the four-year liberal arts degree is a “grift.”

“Broke” schools “scramble to attract and retain students, whatever their intellectual readiness,” they found. Professors are under pressure to please students, their customers. If too many students switch to an easier major, professors in the harder major could lose their job. “Woke” sensibilities have politicized student performance disparities, especially by race, they write. A Boston University teaching guide on the “hidden curriculum” suggests it “may not be fair or even valid” to hold marginalized students to such expectations as doing the readings, arriving to class on time, participating in class discussions or using “standard English.”

“Stroke” is a reference to the need to stroke the egos of “students viewed as increasingly likely to push back for higher grades or others perceived as too vulnerable to receive stringent appraisals of their work.”

The three professors who authored the study are Mark Horowitz, and Anthony L. Haynor — who teach sociology at Seton Hall University — and Kenneth Kickham, who teaches political science at the University of Central Oklahoma.

As colleges become more woke, students are learning less and less. People’s vocabularies are shrinking at a time when more and more people have college degrees. As Zach Goldberg notes, people’s mastery of hard words has been falling for well over 20 years, and their mastery of easier words has been falling for over 15 years. Going to college no longer expands people’s vocabularies the way it once did: Since 1970, there has been a steady decline in the correlation between years of education and a person’s word stock.

Even before wokeness peaked, things were bad. Nearly half of the nation’s undergraduates learned almost nothing in their first two years in college, according to a 2011 study by New York University’s Richard Arum and others. Thirty-six percent learned little even by graduation. Although federal higher-education spending had mushroomed in the preceding years, students “spent 50% less time studying compared with students a few decades” earlier. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy also shows that degree holders are learning less.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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By GIL