The Wharton School had cause to celebrate earlier this week when it ranked third in Bloomberg Businessweek's rankings of the nation’s top Masters of Business Administration programs. Yet, the school’s success on the list was marred by disappointing student survey results.
Partially comprised by data from surveys, students gave Wharton a “C” in the category of teaching.
Howard Kaufold, vice dean of the MBA program, sees a disparity between the grade and the feedback he regularly receives.
“We rely on the same course evaluations that are used across the University and these indicate that, by and large, our faculty are very successful in the classroom,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Kaufold was at a loss to explain the disparity, though he has doubts about Businessweek’s methods.
“The facts are that we don’t know a) what questions Businessweek asks our students or employers, b) how many of our students (or employers) participate, or c) what their responses look like,” he wrote.
MBA candidate Jason Carter echoes the same sentiment.
“I think teaching should have received an ‘A,’” he said, further speculating on the students surveyed. He believes the grade may have been due to super-negative feedback offsetting the average.
Whitney Beckett, another MBA candidate, has similar suspicions.
“For these ratings to exist, they have to shake things up and be a bit controversial; in my opinion, that’s what’s behind this C,” she wrote in an e-mail.
“I had high expectations coming into school, and have still been pleasantly surprised with almost all of my professors at Wharton,” she added.
As for the effect the low grade will have on Wharton’s future, Eliot Ingram, co-founder of admissions consulting firm Clear Admit, said the consequences will be minimal.
He pointed to Wharton’s working recovery from the economic crisis, further enforced by students’ grade of “A” for career services, as being more noteworthy.
“They had a difficult time adjusting to the fewer financial jobs, but they have made a lot of progress in terms of [Wharton MBA Dean of Admissions] J.J. Cutler overseeing both the career office and admissions office,” he said. “I would be more focused on that than the teaching.”
Kaufold hopes to correct any existing problems through working with the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory Committee, members of which provide feedback on their classroom experiences.
“We’re proud of the way students and faculty are regularly working together, through the [Wharton Graduate Association], at informal lunches or at faculty presentations, to find opportunities to advance the MBA academic environment,” he wrote.