Since he started teaching at Johns Hopkins University in 2005, Professor
Peter Fröhlich has maintained a grading curve in which each class’s
highest grade on the final counts as an A, with all other scores
adjusted accordingly. So if a midterm is worth 40 points, and the
highest actual score is 36 points, "that person gets 100 percent and
everybody else gets a percentage relative to it,” said Fröhlich....
As the semester ended in December, students in Fröhlich’s "Intermediate
Programming", "Computer Science Fundamentals," and "Introduction to
Programming for Scientists and Engineers" classes decided to test the
limits of the policy, and collectively planned to boycott the final.
Because they all did, a zero was the highest score in each of the three
classes, which, by the rules of Fröhlich’s curve, meant every student
received an A.
Fröhlich took a surprisingly philosophical view of his students'
machinations, crediting their collaborative spirit. "The students
learned that by coming together, they can achieve something that
individually they could never have done," he said via e-mail. “At a
school that is known (perhaps unjustly) for competitiveness I didn't
expect that reaching such an agreement was possible.” Although Fröhlich conceded that he did not include such a “loophole”
in the policy “with the goal of students exploiting it,” he decided to
honor it after the boycott.