Did Adam Smith give grades to students?

Prof. Humberto Barreto of  posed this question on a history email forum:

Do we know if Adam Smith gave his students letter grades (as professors do today) and, if so, was he a hard or an easy grader?

One of the Profs replied saying that Smith never gave any grades and there were no examinations (no Honours degree) in his day. He added that by the 1830s a pol econ Prof. Thomas Chalmers at St. Andrews, had his students write essays. This Prof. discovered two such essays in the National Library of Scotland and wrote about them in JHET 2005. Chalmers made comments and wrote a brief opinion of the essay at the end.

Fascinating trivia from history. Prof. Smith’s students were saved from grilling. And then I doubt whether Prof Smith can really take today’s economics exams. This is one subject whose founders are likely to flunk all the exams of today.

Prof. Smith also wrote about how faculties earned their salaries from what students paid them. The value was decided by students. How would the grading be handled if it existed then?Would students have been really honest and paid Profs who were strict in grading. In today’s times most Profs who are strict and not good with gradings get poor ratings most of the time.




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