Academic Senate collecting input on raising grade requirements in general education courses

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The Academic Senate is currently gathering information on the possibility of changing passing requirements for general education courses so that all courses would require a C grade to pass. (Ethan Hawkes / Daily Titan File Photo)
The Academic Senate is currently gathering information on the possibility of changing passing requirements for general education courses so that all courses would require a C grade to pass. (Ethan Hawkes / Daily Titan File Photo)

The Academic Senate is in the process of gathering input on the issue of “D” grades being considered a passing grade for certain general education courses. Depending on the outcome, it could eventually lead to “C” grades being required in order to pass all GE courses.

In the fall 2012 semester, 3,398 grades between a D and a C- were earned in these courses. 

The senate has raised the issue due to inconsistent standards for fulfilling GE requirements. Some courses need a C or better for students to pass, while others require a D or better.

The process is still in its early stages.

“If the electorate votes in favor of the idea there will be many conversations across the campus and in the Senate, where students are represented, before any action occurred,” said Emily Bonney, the vice chair of the Academic Senate.

Proponents of implementing the new requirement say having consistent standards will make it easier for students to navigate through GE requirements.

If a grade of C- or below were to be given, the course can be repeated. 

Opponents of raising the standard contend that changing the standards will lead to grade inflation, and faculty will feel pressured to assign the lowest passing grade to students to save them from repeating the course. 

Another negative with this issue is that it could potentially decrease graduation rates and create more bottlenecks for students.

The senate is also gathering opinions on streamlining how the university reviews personnel standards. 

Currently, standards are reviewed by the department, the Faculty Personnel Committee and the provost. 

Streamlining standards would reduce the number of reviews performed and would prevent reviewers from becoming too far removed from the department. 

The side in favor has said departments should be free to adapt their standards to changes in their profession and since reviewers will get further removed from the department, they will know less about which standards are appropriate and reasonable within each individual field. 

Opponents say multiple levels of review keeps departments from lowering or raising their standards too steeply, and fewer levels of review mean that it would be difficult to arbitrate conflicts between the department and higher levels of review.

It is currently up to the electorate to review this opinion and decide whether or not existing policy  should be changed.

“Right now we are not changing the standards, we are asking if they should be changed,” said Sean Walker, the chair of the Academic Senate.

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