Strow proposes grading system

Lindsey Reed

Debate during the plus/minus grading proposal has prompted University Senate members to make some changes.

Economics professor Brian Strow made his official proposal for a plus/minus grading system at Thursday’s senate meeting.

The senate passed two chan-ges to the plan during its first reading.

The proposal stated it would increase student efforts, grading accuracy and grading fairness.

In the amended proposal, an A+ or A equals 4.0, A- equals 3.7, B+ equals 3.3, B equals 3.0, B- equals 2.7, C+ equals 2.3, C equals 2.0, C- equals 1.7, D+ equals 1.3, D equals 1.0, D- equals .7 and F equals 0.

Strow’s proposal did not have an A+, D+ or D-.

He said the original proposal did not include a D+ or D- because most schools that used the plus/minus grading system did not include them.

A vote to add D+ and D- grades to the proposed scale was made after some faculty were concerned that the lack of those grades would be unfair.

A motion add an A+ to the scale with a 4.3 equivalency failed, but a motion to include an A+ on transcripts without changing the GPA passed.

Richard Parker, management and information systems professor, said he previously worked at the University of Alabama, where the plus/minus system was in effect without the possibility of a 4.3 GPA.

There was a lack of motivation from Alabama students to try to get an A+ since there was no difference in the numerical average of the GPA, he said.

While Parker said he sees benefits in the proposal, it could be looked into further.

“I think they should study the issue more,” he said. “I think there needs to be more talk about whether it should affect graduate students.”

Parker said the plus/minus system could be an easier adjustment if it went into effect next year just for incoming freshmen.

Strow said he didn’t have a problem with the vote to add an A+ on transcripts, but he said he was happy that an A+ would not numerically be a 4.3 GPA.

“It doesn’t make sense that you can make more than perfect – a 4.0 is perfect,” Strow said.

Louisville senior Troy Ransdell, a senate member and Student Government Association Chief Justice, said that it was important for an A+ to appear on transcripts.

“It’s a distinction of knowing that you exceeded beyond expectation,” he said. “It would make you look a lot better in graduate school.”

Patricia Minter, history professor and law school adviser, said the plus/minus grading system would be good for Western because the Law School Admission Council already refigures GPAs to a plus/minus scale before sending applications to law schools.

Minter said data suggests that a lower GPA will not necessarily hurt a student’s chances of getting into a professional school.

“I’ve seen more students with low 3.0 GPAs and high LSATs get into law school than I have 4.0 students with low LSATs,” she said.

Minter said attaining a 4.0 can be an artificial goal because students often take less challenging courses to maintain a 4.0 GPA, which will hurt them in the long-run

The question of how the plus/minus system could be used among faculty is still being considered.

Strow said individual professors have complete control in their classes, and there is no current rule of how professors make out their grading scales.

Senate Chair Doug Smith said the proposal could be passed as soon as next month because a proposal takes two readings before a final vote can be made.

Faculty/staff privacy

A proposal from the Faculty Welfare and Professional Responsibilities Committee was passed to make it default that faculty and staff home addresses and telephone numbers not be listed in the printed and online campus directories, unless a person requests home information be included.

The current default lists the home information unless a faculty or staff member puts in a request to have it removed.

Mary Wolinski, chair of the Faculty Welfare and Professional Responsibilities Committee, said that the resolution would better protect faculty and staff privacy, and it could help to prevent identify theft.

“This just puts less information out,” Wolinski said.

Ransdell made a motion to change the resolution to include the removal of students’ permanent home and phone addresses, but the change did not pass.

Reach Lindsey Reed at [email protected]