Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 187-197

First online:

What is Ethical About Grade Inflation and Coursework Deflation?

  • Donald Larry CrumbleyAffiliated withE. J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University Email author 
  • , Ronald E. FlinnAffiliated withCollege of Business Administration, Creighton University
  • , Kenneth J. ReicheltAffiliated withE. J. Ourso College of Business, Louisiana State University

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Recent research questions the validity of student evaluation of teaching (SET) data to measure teaching and learning. Yet, there is extensive use of this instrument around the world, which arguably contributes to a decline in the rigor of college classes. This performance measurement has lead to both unethical grade inflation and coursework deflation as faculty try to entertain students rather than educating them. These unethical teaching techniques used by many faculties are on the same plane as the unethical practices of executives “cooking their books.” Ethical and unethical SET management techniques of professors are discussed herein, along with incentive and structural pander pollution of administrators and universities.


Student evaluation of teachers Pander pollution Grade inflation Dysfunctional behavior Impression management Earnings management