| 03.20.2018

Students mixed on plus-minus grading option


The University of Idaho Faculty Senate has revived the old issue of shifting to a plus-minus grading system, but students are still not convinced it is a good idea. The Faculty Senate pushed for a shift to a plus-minus system in 2005, and the topic came up again at the Oct. 2 Faculty Senate meeting. Faculty Senate Chair Kenton Bird said the topic is still in the Teaching and Advising Committee.
“The committee doesn’t meet until Thursday,” Bird said. “I will be presenting on the plus-minus grading option at their next meeting.”
Bird said the Faculty Senate has not taken an official position on the issue yet.
At last week’s ASUI Senate meeting, Director of Policy Chris Schrette reported the results of a survey he conducted to gauge students’ opinion of a shift to plus-minus grading.
Schrette found students did not support the switch at this time, and students with higher grade point averages were more opposed to the shift than students with lower GPAs.
Schrette said this could be because students with higher GPAs perceived the shift as more of a threat to their averages than students with lower averages.
Schrette said the survey was a random sample of students at an event and was statistically sound. He said the results should be taken somewhat lightly because the sample size was small.
Schrette said the studies he looked at offered conflicting results. Several studies concluded that, if the plus-minus system was implemented over a student’s entire college career, their GPA would be slightly higher — but if the switch happened somewhere in the middle, then their GPA would be lower.
“The results were close,” Schrette said. “I looked at four surveys that said the switch would improve GPAs and five that said it would have a detrimental effect, or no effect on GPAs.”
Schrette said with the exception of a college in Boise, UI is the only college in Idaho that does not use the plus-minus grading system.
“The Faculty Senate brought it up last year, and they left it as something that would be addressed this semester,” Schrette said. “So it’s kinda one of those things where the train is coming.”
Andrew Deskins can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu

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