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All Midterm Grades Initiative Passes

By Kelson Howerton
On March 28, 2018

The proposal to display all midterm grades passed the Faculty Executive Board.
Photo Courtesy of Concord University

In February, the faculty executive board approved a proposal to allow students to see all of their grades at midterm, not just the previously reported Ds and Fs.

According to Dr. Christopher McClain, associate professor of mathematics and faculty president, students brought the suggestion to a faculty member, who suggested it to the Academic Policy Committee (APC). The APC took the suggestion seriously and began discussing the possibility of this change. To gauge student interest, the APC polled SGA voting members on whether or not they would be in favor of seeing all grades at midterm, with 100 percent voting in favor of the proposal.

Out of that committee came an official recommendation that was brought before the executive board, which represents faculty from every department. Within the board meeting, several members expressed concerns that not all professors would have information to report a meaningful grade at midterm. “So that was something that was debated for a little bit and then sent back to [the] committee,” McClain said. “For the most part, it came back from the committee in the same form that it had before, and so we reentered that debate.”

While not unanimous, the majority of faculty eventually agreed that by the eighth week of the semester, they would have enough information to give students an idea of where they stood, with the stipulation that some grades might be based on very minimal information. To make this clear, the motion out of the committee included a need for the registrar to issue a disclaimer about the nature of these midterm grades.

Although the proposal passed the executive board meeting, some professors were still skeptical of the usefulness of this grade change. One such professor, Dr. Charles Brichford, professor of English, was not opposed to the idea, but did not believe the change would be very informative to students. “I think there are many classes, including pretty much all of mine, where the information that’s available at midterm isn’t going to give you a very accurate idea of anything,” Brichford says. “I think that the benefit is likely [going] to be less than some people seem to think.”

Brichford added that while it can be easier to determine D or F grades due to issues like chronic attendance problems or students not completing their assignments, he believes most professors will not have enough information to “distinguish between an A or a B in any meaningful way.”

“There are other classes where there’s so much still available at the end that you could have an A at midterm and still end up with a D, because there’s so much out there that hasn’t been done,” Brichford says. “So I just don’t think it’s terribly informative. If the students would prefer it, let them help themselves, but I don’t think it’s going to produce the good they’re looking for.”

Cameron McNeely, the SGA’s student representative to the faculty, says the students’ argument for this change was that if the majority of professors have already recorded grades in order to determine who was failing their classes, they will also have grades for everyone else that they might as well report so students know their progress. Addressing professors’ concern that this midterm grade will not necessarily represent 50 percent of a student’s grade, McNeely added that students have the ability to gage their overall progress in their classes using the percentages of each assignment laid out in their syllabi.

“I believe this change will be helpful to students because many students worry about how they stand in their courses,” McNeely said. “This change can help reassure them of where they stand and how they can improve as the semester continues.”

Now that the proposal has been approved by the executive board, it essentially stands as a recommendation to the administration, which can choose to approve or reject the proposal. However, Dr. McClain believes there should be no problem with it passing before the year is out. If the proposal is approved, it will likely take effect next fall, as McClain says there are no major software changes needed or any other barriers holding back a swift implementation of this new system. As of now, the administration has not announced an official decision on the matter. This story will be updated as necessary.

 

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