Plus/minus grading doesn’t benefit Western students

Troy Ransdell

Is plus/minus grading in Western’s best interest?

My major complaint against the proposed grading system is that no one has shown me one way in which it serves to help students. Faculty can claim it “may” give students a greater chance to succeed, but it definitely gives us a greater chance of failure.

Failure will not enable this university to stay in the running for additional state dollars. All I am asking is for Brian Strow to show me how this form of grading helps students.

If it doesn’t, why is Western thinking about implementing a policy that will deliberately pose a threat to a student’s well-being? Wouldn’t implementing a policy that hurts students be counterproductive to this university’s intention to help and educate students? It’s wrong to believe we don’t deserve any say in the system we finance both through tuition and our taxes. As a taxpayer and financier of higher education, the quality of this university is my business.

The students and faculty are far too divided here at Western; we need to find some common bond. Faculty, remember you were undergrads at one time. Put yourselves in our shoes. If your university was to radically change its grading policy, wouldn’t you be nervous?

The motivations behind implementing this new plus/minus grading policy have taken on a punitive nature. Grades are not to reward or punish a student. They are to be an unbiased evaluation of performance, if one exists. Strow’s plan to use grades as a way to increase incentive for learning, to modify student behavior and to manipulate grades is unethical at best.

The university has an obligation to help its students get ahead in life instead of holding them back so it can get a supposedly “more accurate” representation of a student’s achievement. Further grade distinctions only serve to hinder education because more emphasis is placed upon judging and percentage scores than on actual intellectual achievement. Knowledge becomes secondary to percentage points. Students are more motivated by the fear of receiving bad grades rather than attaining actual knowledge. We are here to learn, not compete among ourselves.

The academic quality committee will be presenting its plus/minus recommendation on March 18. Unless you want plus/minus grading, let your professors know how you feel. And faculty, be empathetic with students and think about where we are coming from. This policy won’t benefit anyone, including faculty.

Troy Ransdell is a senior political science major from Louisville.

This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.