# Pedagogical Practices

This section describes the reportedly common pedagogical practices of fostering competition among students, and grading on a curve. Contrary to published descriptions of college teaching in science, mathematics, and engineering disciplines, Virginia's CS and Biology/Life Sciences departments typically endorsed cooperation over competition. Furthermore, grading on a curve was common only in a minority of the studied departments.

The following list identifies the survey questions that gathered data on these pedagogical practices.

• Competition and Cooperation
• Faculty endorsement of competition and/or cooperation among students was measured by agreement with two statements: "Competition helped students do their best work." and "Students benefited from helping each other with assignments." Agreement was measured on a 5-point scale where 1 indicated strong disagreement and 5 indicated strong agreement.
• Tables of CS and Biology/Life Sciences' departmental and discipline means for the competition and cooperation statements are listed below.
• The survey asked faculty about their grading practices for the largest required, introductory or intermediate level undergraduate course they taught. The question was "Were final grades calculated on a curve (certain percentages of students earned A's, B's, C's, etc.), on an absolute scale of demonstrated mastery, or other [grading method]?"
• Responses showed that grading on a curve was not usual in most departments. When this grading method was used, several faculty explained that they only curved grades upward, never downward.
• Tables showing the percentage of responding CS and Biology/Life Sciences faculty who graded on a curve are presented below.

### Pedagogical Practices in CS Departments:

#### Endorsement of Cooperation and Competition as Pedagogical Tools

1=strongly disagree, 5=strongly agree

1.2

4.00

2.25

2.2

4.00

2.33

3.2

2.33

1.78

4.2

4.33

3.00

5.2

.

.

6.2

4.33

3.67

7.2

3.63

2.55

8.2

3.20

3.00

10.2

3.50

2.63

11.2

4.00

2.00

12.2

4.00

3.00

13.2

2.50

1.50

14.2

4.00

2.00

15.2

4.00

4.33

16.2

4.00

3.50

17.2

2.50

3.00

18.2

4.00

4.00

19.2

4.00

1.50

20.2

5.00

2.00

21.2

3.50

2.00

22.2

4.50

2.00

24.2

3.76

3.16

25.2

4.00

2.00

mean

3.78

2.60

1.2 0.0
2.2 0.0
3.2 0.0
4.2 0.0
5.2 .
6.2 33.3
7.2 26.6
8.2 0.0
10.2 12.5
11.2 0.0
12.2 0.0
13.2 0.0
14.2 0.0
15.2 33.3
16.2 25.0
17.2 20.0
18.2 0.0
19.2 50.0
20.2 0.0
21.2 100.0
22.2 0.0
24.2 77.8
25.2 0.0
mean 17.2

### Pedagogical Practices in Biology/Life Sciences Departments:

#### Endorsement of Cooperation and Competition as Pedagogical Tools

1=strongly disagree, 5=strongly agree

1.1 3.67 1.67
2.1 4.40 3.50
3.1 4.16 2.79
4.1 5.00 3.33
5.1 5.00 5.00
6.1 4.22 2.56
7.1 3.95 2.50
8.1 3.92 2.08
10.1 4.14 2.71
11.1 4.25 4.00
12.1 . .
13.1 3.56 2.11
14.1 5.00 4.00
15.1 4.00 3.50
16.1 4.00 2.65
17.1 4.39 2.37
18.1 4.50 2.75
19.1 3.67 2.00
20.1 4.17 1.80
21.1 4.16 3.42
22.1 3.29 2.56
24.1 4.74 2.37
25.1 3.20 2.25
mean 4.15 2.81

1.1 50.0
2.1 20.0
3.1 41.8
4.1 33.3
5.1 0.0
6.1 22.2
7.1 0.0
8.1 23.0
10.1 0.0
11.1 0.0
12.1 .
13.1 11.1
14.1 100.0
15.1 75.0
16.1 0.0
17.1 10.8
18.1 25.0
19.1 25.0
20.1 16.7
21.1 58.2
22.1 22.2
24.1 45.7
25.1 0.0
mean 26.4