Dumb numbers 1

October 30, 2008

Is it possible to argue that the higher proportion of firsts being awarded now doesn't mean that someone who scraped a first this year wouldn't have got one 30 years ago (Leader, 23 October)?

To argue that there has not been dumbing down, you would have to show that the average student now is more intelligent, or better at learning, than the average one of the past. Maybe teaching is better now and students therefore learn better, but can the improvement have been so great as to justify the statistics?

It seems unlikely to me. The whole question is muddied, of course, by the difficulties of comparing one institution with another both contemporaneously and over time.

Michael Bulley, Via internet.

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