Faculty Senate advises for more flexibility in Spring 2021 grading policy

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB – The Faculty Senate is advising the Provost’s Office to be flexible in allowing faculty and students to have the “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” option as the grading policy for the spring semester.

The Faculty Senate discussed the grading policy for the spring semester at Wednesday’s meeting and there were a variety of opinions from professors and staff.

The Faculty Senate didn’t vote on what the grading policy should be for the spring but rather gave an advisory message to the Provost’s Office on what the university should do in terms of grading.

Since the Feb. 17 Faculty Senate meeting, a Qualtrics survey was sent to Faculty Senate members asking them what grading method they preferred for the spring semester.

The survey results showed that normal grading came in third, an automatic substitution of “unsatisfactory” for “F” came in second and allowing individual students and professors to decide the substitution of “U” for “F” came in first place.

“There were sort of mixed feelings about what we should do this spring, and when there are mixed feelings you stay with what you already have,” said Beth Ingram, executive vice president and provost.

Omar Ghrayeb, vice provost for undergraduate studies, said giving students the option of a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” grade doesn’t impact a student’s GPA or financial aid because financial aid is calculated using a student’s GPA.

“Each option that you had on the survey has consequences,” Ghrayeb said. “The most serious consequence is what we did last spring, which is to offer students the option to change their grade to ‘S’ or ‘U.’”

Ghrayeb said after speaking with professors who aren’t in support of “S” or “U” grades, they argue that the university would be extending the stay of some students if a different grading method were used.

SGA President Antonio Johnson said many students liked the grading policy of the Spring 2020 semester, where there was an option for “satisfactory/unsatisfactory” grading, while other students didn’t.

“Some students who take courses that they have to pass that course with a C or higher, they didn’t really like that you had to get an F in order to receive the ‘U’ because they still failed the course if they received the C,” Johnson said.

Laura Johnson, associate professor of educational technology, research and assessment, said students are aware they’re signing up for what is required in an asynchronous or synchronous course but not the challenges the pandemic will bring to their personal lives.

“For example, problems with the internet, failure of their equipment, changes in employment schedules, so students can’t meet certain requirements, and they also don’t know how every faculty member is going to respond to their issues and their needs,” Johnson said.

Faculty Senate President Kendall Thu said while there’s no clear consensus from the Faculty Senate, the university has more experience with teaching in a pandemic compared to a year ago.

“Based on the survey results, faculty and students want maximum flexibility that deals with the various contingents and circumstances they’re dealing with,” Thu said. “I think that’s the kind of approach we need going forward so we’re not going to have one size fits all.”