After years of grade inflation, fewer required courses and more innovative programs, students and faculty members at American colleges increasingly support traditional academic values and standards, according to a survey of campus attitudes released yesterday.
The survey, financed by the Carnegie Council on Policy Studies in Higher Education, also found dwindling support for relaxing normal requirements in order to admit more blacks and other minorities to college programs or to hire them as professors.
If found a growing belief that women students are as talented and committed as men, and a more tolerant attitude toward smoking marijuana.
But in major political and religious convictions, it found very little change - and most of that in a conservative direction, compared with a similar nationwide survey conducted in 1969.
Martin Trow, sociology professor at the University of California at Berkeley who directed both surveys, said they indicate that the apparent radicalization of college campuses in the late 1960s was a short-term phenomenon, stimulated by the Vietnam war and exaggerated by the press.
"The events on . . . campuses in the late 1960s were serious and important," Trow declared, "but to a very considerable degree they were media events; their effects and larger significance were almost certainly exaggerated . . . colleges and universities have been marked more by stability in basic attitudes and values of their students and teachers than they have been by any . . . great changes."
The survey released yesterday was conducted in 1975 among 25,000 undergraduates, 25,000 graduate students and 25,000 faculty members at all types of colleges throughout the country.
It found a pervasive rise in the grades students are receiving. For example in 1969 only 18 per cent of undergraduates reported a cumulative grade-point average of B-plus or better: in 1975 that proportion had doubled to 36 per cent. Some 59 per cent of undergraduates reported a B or better average in 1975, compared with 36 per cent six years earlier.
The average grades of graduate students also rose substantially, the study reported, and about 80 per cent of faculty members said grading standards have become less rigorous.
But the proportion of undergraduates who believe education would be better if grades were abolished fell from 59 per cent in 1969 to 32 per cent in 1975; among faculty members it dropped from 34 to 19 per cent. The proportion who want all required courses to be abolished fell from 51 to 35 per cent among undergraduates and from 21 to 13 per cent among faculty.
The number of students wanting training and skills for an occupation or "a detailed grasp of a special field" increased. The goals of "learning how to get along with people" and "formulating the values and goals of my life" diminished in importance.
Faculty members who said that research rather than teaching was their primary interest rose from 15 to 25 per cent.
For the proposition that "more minority group undergraduates should be admitted to my college even if it means relaxing normal academic standards of admission," support has fallen from 29 to 22 per cent among undergraduates, from 37 to 20 per cent among graduate students, and from 37 to 27 per cent among faculty members.
Students and faculty opposed relaxing normal requirements to hire more minority-group professors in 1969 and more of them did so in 1975, although support for black studies programs remained high. Trow said the data indicate persistent strength for the idea that, in making appointments, a person's work should be emphasized rather than his race.