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KU student leaders pushing for consistent grade system


Here's a situation: Two friends, both KU students, are both enrolled in an introductory psychology course this semester. After the final, they've both scored, say, a 91.4 percent for the class.

For one student, this is great news. She's gotten an A and 4 whole, meaty grade points to contribute to her GPA. But for her friend, things aren't so rosy: She gets an A-minus, which comes with only 3.7 grade points. That's because they're in different sections of the class, with different instructors. Friend 2 is furious, or at least pretty annoyed, and doesn't talk to Friend 1 for a couple of days.

This is a hypothetical story, with some dramatic embellishment by me, but it's based on stories that KU student body vice president Brandon Woodard says he's heard from some other students.

You see, some KU schools and departments opt to use a plus/minus grading system, awarding fewer grade points for an A-minus than for an A, more points for a B-plus than for a B, etc. Others opt to use a straight letter-grade system: If you get a 90 percent or above, you get the A and all 4 grade points.

But other departments allow instructors to choose which system to use. That, Woodard says, can cause inconsistencies like the one described above, especially in the case of classes with lots of different sections.

Woodard and some other student government leaders are trying to change this, proposing a policy that would require each department to decide on a uniform grading system for each of its courses.

I'd like to check in on this effort at some point and report on it in more detail, but in the meantime I'm curious: Are there any students out there who've run into a scenario similar to the one I laid out above? Or perhaps an instructor who would like to preserve his or her ability to choose a grading system? Or are most people indifferent?

If any of those applies to you, email me at merickson@ljworld.com. Send your KU news tips there, too. (I reserve the right to grade your news tips on any scale I choose: plus/minus, straight letter grades, non-numeric symbols based on how it makes me feel, which television character I think your news tip most resembles, etc.)

EDIT (8:25 a.m. Thursday): Brandon Woodard, as you may know, is KU's student body vice president. Hannah Bolton is the student body president. Last night I left out the word "vice" in Woodard's title. That's fixed now.


parrothead8 5 years, 2 months ago

Every professor I've had at KU puts this in their syllabus, so you know from Day 1 whether or not the course will be graded on the plus/minus grading system. If you don't like it, you can always drop and find another section.

Chris Paradies 5 years, 2 months ago

Regardless of whether or not a professor is up front about it (and most are) the point is that it is unfair for me to take ENGL 101 and the people next door taking a different section of ENGL 101 don't have to work as hard to receive the same grade.

Tom Thomson 5 years, 2 months ago

Over the past four years, I've had about 70% of my teachers list their grading police (+/-, etc), while the others will either discuss it only if you ask them during office hours, or if somebody brings it up in class.

I, for one, would love some more consistency with this policy. Personally, I wish the entire University was +/-.

mom_of_three 5 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Parrotthead...every professor I ever had at KU put it in the syllabus and/or mentioned it in class. most professors I had used the +/- after it was adopted...

allktag 5 years, 2 months ago

I know you are writing in satire, but your point is still not relevant to the story. Way to make it about a false understanding of political ideology and completely ignore logic.

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