I bribed the students with 2.5% extra credit to do the SRTE questionnaire. Last year, after a lot of verbal cajoling, I got the return rate to 58%. This year, with the grade-inflating incentive, I got the return rate to 86%. That’s probably an important difference (though how would be know?): I imagine that extra quarter of the class contains the students without strong feelings.
But the shameless bribery had the following consequences:
One student who failed, passed.
Two students on a D got a C.
One student on a C got a C+.
Three on a C+ got a B-.
Nine B-‘s got a B.
14 B’s got an A-.
8 A-‘s got an A.
I do worry about grade inflation, which is a nation-wide (and indeed international) problem. In this particular case, there are some advantages with the 2.5% freebie. First, I do get full feedback (an 86% return rate is rare for large classes). Second, this freebie encourages me to keep my tests hard. And third, there are always a few students on boundaries who want their mark to be higher. It is much easier to say no if their true score was actually 2.5% lower.
On balance, I think I’ll do the same again next year – unless I get a rapped on the knuckles by the University when word gets around.