New Studies Finds Professors Don't Discriminate Against Conservative StudentsBreaking News
tags: teaching, education, higher education, professors
David M. Perry is a former professor of history and a contributing writer at Pacific Standard's Ideas section on the topic of health-care access. He's currently senior academic adviser to the Department of History at the University of Minnesota.
The idea that left-wing college professors are both brainwashing undergraduates and discriminating against conservative students has emerged as one of the most consistent right-wing lines of attack against American higher education over the last few decades. While conservative undergrads, like many types of students, may often feel isolated, a new working paper led by a public policy professor who tells me he's a "lifelong Republican" suggests that any evidence for bias in grading against conservative students is at best minimal and most likely absent.
Matthew Woessner, associate professor of political science and public policy at Pennsylvania State University–Harrisburg, has been working with various colleagues on questions related to political identity and higher education for years. In his most recent paper, he collaborated with Amanda Thompson and Robert Maranto to analyze data produced by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California–Los Angeles. The data, Woessner says, comes from students who are surveyed during both their first year and fourth years. The students report their political identification, and also answer questions about policy issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action, and the threat of racism. The authors correlated students' self-reported high-school grade point averages (GPAs), their first-year college outcomes, and their fourth-year college outcomes, to the students' political views. The findings: Ideological variables are not strong predictors of grades, albeit with a few fascinating caveats.
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