Grading system inconsistent with student expectations

By Staff Writer
November 20, 2003

Sitting on the cluttered desk is a pile of syllabuses just waiting to being glared at in the most menacing way possible. That’s not surprising though. Professors here at Cabrini have their own unique ways of teaching their students. That’s not the only thing either. Notice how with each professor there’s always some variation to his or her grading system as compared to another? This is because there’s not uniformity when it comes to professors’ grading systems.

Some professors will make-up variations of the traditional A, B, C percentage that is used in a majority of grading students. This problem can be seen through the numerous departments that reign on this campus. Where does the differences occur when numbers get converted to letters? Take one syllabus, for example, from a Biology class. Even though an A- in another class, such as, from a business class might be a 90, it could mean though that A- on that Biology test could possibly be a 92. Do you see the uniformity? There’s a dividing line between what an A- and a B+ means to different professors.

There’s hope ahead though for some departments. “I know the science department is trying to standardize because I was on a committee where syllabuses of one professor had one set of grades and others another,” Dr. Zurek, an English and communication professor, said. Students can also see throughout syllabuses differences between what exactly is a failing grade. There could be a range of grades, for example, from 50, 60, 65 or 70. Then there’s another outlook to take also with the grading systems. There are some professors who curve and some that students wish would curve. It all depends on what approach that specific teacher takes.

Some courses in the math department use a grading system of a possible way to accumulate a certain amount of points. The points are broken down into sections where test grades counts for a bulk of points, quiz grades another and a final exam counting for another set of points. Even though a failing grade could be a 50 to 70, in some math courses a failing grade is looked at as below 600 points. The content area of what uniformity is really all about continues to vary within each department.

Paul Nasella, a sophomore English and communication major, said, “If there’s not uniformity how are you suppose to know if you’re getting equal treatment and grades on papers. If the grading isn’t uniform, it then comes down to whether a teacher favors you by throwing in a few extra points. It should be non-bias.” Another student begged differ, “My professors having different grading systems doesn’t bother me at all. I like the inconsistency,” said Katy Kidell, a freshman undeclared major.

Dr. Sherry Fuller-Espie, department chair of biology said, “The science deparment has tried to adopt a system where consistent grading schemes are used by full and part-time professors. I strongly encourage my faculty to use the same grading scale and I do allow some flexibility owing to academic freedom.” The grading systems among professors are owed to what students should expect out of them which is a sort of knowing that their grades should be what they are. Fuller-Espie said, “I think that by having a standardized grading scale promotes consistency within the department and definitely between courses that are offered as multiple sections.” She said that professors like having a central coordinator and she’s sure the students who are taking different sections are happy that they can study with students from other sections and that tutors will have a better handle on how to prepare.

The views of students and teachers alike vary just as much as the grading systems themselves. Where’s the dividing line in that?

Posted to the web by Angelina Wagner

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Staff Writer

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