The goal of a course is to teach the material so an average (for that level of course, typical student taking it) the course grade would be around middle to high C. If too many students are scoring higher, pick one or more -
-the prof is lazy and did not make the course challenging
-the prof (see above) recycles tests and someone passed around a complete set
- the material is not challenging enough
-the students are all above average, as their mothers insisted they were.
The odds of the last one are very rare. Even if it is a class full of specialists in the field, then the material should be challenging at their level too. The only difference is they won’t force a bunch of people trying to get into grad school to bell down to C, since 4th year specialists are probably all B or better students on their good days.
Look at it from the university’s point of view. They do NOT want students to say “oh, take Prof Smith’s Modern Cinema course. You watch a film each week and write 1 essay and are guaranteed B or better.” They want their marks to mean something when the stident gets out there.
The way it was explained to us, the prof could argue why the marks were the way they were; but you can’t BS a bunch of other professors who know the field and probably taught that course once upon a time. The course requirements are set long before, and they are NOT made too easy for average students who tend to enroll in that course.
As I said before, belling usually indicates a prof too lazy to tailor the material; most profs aim to bell up, not down, if they do; here is no “must fail” number, they just want the average to be not too far out of line with the norm. The prof can tell who should fail if the testing is set up right. If the prof is consistently failing the students - well, some universities claim to care. Usually teaching,say, “Intro to Statistics for Arts Students” is given to low man on the totem pole or someone who has tenure but has already pissed off the department head.
Generally, people who fail a course have earned that mark - either by missing a lot or work and classes (lazy or otherwise focussed), by having a major problem, or simply taking a course they could not hope to master.
“the world needs ditch diggers too…” Ted Knight, Caddyshack.