EAC Academic Standards and Practices Committee

Historical Information

Issues Feedback: Grading Policy

The Academic Standards and Practices Committee is very interested in hearing your thoughts about any current issue. Please let us know what you think.

Submitted by:
Porter Raper, Policy Chair/English Instructor (Feb 28, 2006)

As you may have heard, I reported to the EAC about our grading issue discussion, and there were concerns expressed about taking the faculty choice away, or even making it more difficult. Phil and Michael Sonnleitner defended the idea of having students select, then being held to that selected grade, but other faculty were reluctant to give up the ability to make an individual choice for a given student. One faculty member even wondered why we had such a policy in the 1st place....

What about these concomitant ideas:

  1. See if we can give students the choice (via web) to designate their grade choice within the policy time limits--as you've suggested.
  2. Keep faculty prerogative to change grades as they deem necessary.
  3. Have a college-wide/SAC discussion about grade inflation and the potential overuse of P/NP or Audit for avoiding lower GPAs. Also: how do we protect a faculty member's ability to--for example--save a student from dropping out of college, while discouraging faculty from being manipulated into changing a grade for GPA-enhancing reasons?

Potential research:

  1. Do we have the evidence to say that these grades are overused? *Do we know that students actively use the system to raise their GPA?
  2. How does a transfer institution view a student's transcript with a huge batch of Audits or P/NPs? *What do other institutions do about this issue--grade manipulation vs. legitimate compassion designed to keep students in college?
Submitted by:
Virginia Somes, RC Math Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)

On the P/NP/Audit Issue:

I would prefer that the student alone have control of these grade options. At all of the other schools I have attended and taught at, the student registered for the class with their chosen grade structure (i.e., letter grade, P/NP, or audit). There was no confusion about dates and permissions. Student controlled grade options would simplify the procedure and bring all instructors into the same policy. Right now, each instructor seems to follow his/her own thoughts on the matter, instead of the college policy frequently. I have often had students who tell me "My other instructor let me change to a P/NP or an AUDIT during the last week of the term." This isn't the college policy. We definitely need a fix to this problem. I would prefer to let the student control their grade option.

Submitted by:
Sylvia Gray, SY History Instructor (Mar 8, 2006)

Maybe you have my comments still on the P/NP/AUD discussion, but I feel strongly that our students do come from many situations, and
we instructors should be able to use our judgment when all is said and done. Even if I tell students at the beginning of the term, not everyone understands the function of any of these grades, for whatever reason.

In fact, sometimes a student has essentially audited the course and that's the grade I'd like to assign, rather than penalize with an F because they didn't tell me two weeks in or whatever it is (can never remember anyway). It represents what actually happened - usually life obligations interfered with the good intentions. I figure that anything a student gets from a course is better than nothing, and I don't want to mess up that student's experience and/or grade point average simply because the student didn't compute all the eventualities up front.

Committee Chair 2007-2008: Taylor Hanna