JC adds +, - to grading systemJamestown College has revamped its grading scale to offer a better reflection of student achievement by including pluses and minuses with the grades.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown College has revamped its grading scale to offer a better reflection of student achievement by including pluses and minuses with the grades.
Final grades this semester will reflect the change, which became official in May after a majority of faculty members wanted to make the switch.
“This is something that has been discussed for several years at least here at the college,” said JC President Bob Badal. “… Previous efforts to try to make changes to move towards a system with half grades as well as full letter grades were not successful.
“Then last year several of those who previously supported the idea were joined by the new faculty and there were several discussions among faculty groups on campus and students over the course of last year.”
The topic was even debated by two students groups last April. Faculty members advised both sides during the debate.
“I was fairly convinced that the faculty in general had thought very seriously about this,” Badal said. “That it was something they felt was a more fair way to grade students — though it was also clear that not everyone agreed with that.”
One argument from students was that it will be more difficult to achieve a 4.0 grade point average, said Gary Watts, JC vice president/dean of academic affairs.
“Those students who really are desirous to have that type of goal will work harder, and do the work necessary to maintain that,” Watts said.
For JC senior Joelle Reiser, from Washburn, N.D., the new system is an improvement, as she plans to attend graduate school after graduation.
The new grades make graduations more competitive, she said. Graduate schools look to see if the first college or university a student attends had the plus or minus grading.
“Otherwise they think your grades are inflated,” Reiser said.
She said most students like the new system as long as it doesn’t hurt their grades.
“I actually kind of like it,” Reiser said. “It puts the grades more in perspective of what students actually earn.”
However, some faculty members also felt there was no need to fine tune the old grading system, which consisted of the five letter grades.
“It was mixed but the strong majority of faculty did want to have a way to make the grades more reflective to as precisely where the students were in any given class,” Watts said.
In general the student reaction won’t be known until the semester ends on Dec. 20 and the grades are given, he said. Midterms in October will still use straight letter grades.
JC conducted a survey recently that found many other similar private schools with a liberal arts focus have switched to a plus and minus grading system, Watts said.
Badal approved the move to the new system on May 1.
With the new system students who are borderline with a minus on their grade could work harder to move it to an even letter or a plus.
“In general I think the students were of the opinion, at least from what I could tell, that this was not necessarily a bad thing for anyone, and it could be helpful for students that were borderline students,” Badal said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com