Group revises plus/minus

Ashlee Clark

Transcripts have always had advantages and disadvantages for students – but they may have real pluses and minuses next semester.

Pluses and minuses would be added to students’ grades but not used in their grade point averages, if a recommendation made Tuesday by the ad hoc committee on academic quality is approved.

Data on the grading system would be collected for two years to study the effects on students, said Brian Strow, an economics professor who made the motion.

The recommendation will be considered by the University Senate at its meeting on March 18.

Faculty members on the committee approved the proposal unanimously. Student representative Troy Ransdell was the only vote against it.

Strow said the revision to the university’s grading system is meant to better evaluate student performance in a course.

Committee chair Jim Berger said the revision would allow the committee to study the effect of a new grading system on the university without impacting grade point averages or quality points.

“I don’t think of it as temporary, I think of it as exploratory,” he said.

Grades between an A-plus and a C-minus would have pluses and minuses in the resolution.

Grade point averages would continue being calculated on a 4.0 scale.

Committee member Patricia Minter said students would benefit from the system because it provides a more accurate measurement of performance and can motivate students to do well academically.

“I think it’s a big step toward pushing the academic culture on this campus in the right direction,” she said.

Some at the meeting said the proposed system is more accurate in differentiating between grades, such as a high A and a low A.

“I have an old-fashioned idea that effort should be rewarded,” Faculty Regent Robert Dietle said.

Student Representative Josh Collins said a new system will not change student performance.

“It’s just a system,” he said. “The real thing that is going to change our culture is our attitude, not our grading system.”

Collins was not present during the vote.

Ransdell said adding pluses and minuses could adversely affect students.

“It still puts more emphasis on grading rather than learning,” he said.

Strow said he thinks students should focus more attention on learning instead of grades, but grading systems won’t change students’ attitudes.

“We, as a university, need to come up with other ways to care about learning,” he said.

SGA President John Bradley said he thinks students don’t want plus/minus grading.

“I think that the grading system we have right now is time-tested and adequate,” he said.

He said he admires the committee’s passion for academic quality.

“Everyone’s intentions are noble,” he said. “I hope that everyone sees it as that.”

Berger said the committee will continue to address improving other areas of academic quality at its next meeting.

“We as a committee are stuck between leaving things the way they are and attempting to improve academic quality,” he said.

Reach Ashlee Clark at [email protected].