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Oct. 18, 2012 Volume 34, No. 9

Faculty Council discusses plus/minus grading after concerns from students


Provost’s office examines the student experience

When is a 4.0 GPA not enough? 

That was one of several student-centric topics discussed Oct. 11 by Faculty Council in Memorial Union.

Xavier Billingsley, president of the Missouri Students Association, and Nick Droege, MSA director of student services, were on hand to exhort council to explore other options in MU’s undergraduate plus/minus grading system.

Currently, the MU undergraduate system assigns 4.0 as the highest grade point. Billingsley and Droege argued that, since comparable universities award points above 4.0 for an A+ in a course, MU undergraduates might lose out to those students in direct GPA comparisons when applying for graduate and professional schools.

A student online survey by the association showed that slightly more than half of the 719 respondents were concerned about the current grading system.

Some council members explained that the cap was to “control grade inflation.” 

They called for the student association to present evidence that the GPA cap has harmed MU students. 

“The burden of proof is on you guys,” said Nicole Monnier, associate teaching professor of German and Russian studies.

Faculty Council was intrigued by the presentation and will vote soon on investigating the issue.

Also making a presentation was Linda Bennett, MU special assistant in the Office of the Provost. 

She’s involved in the project “Integrating the Mizzou Student Experience.”

Groups within the project are examining fiscal issues, curricular issues, student service infrastructure, and learning and institutional support. 

 “What do we want these students to have as part of their experience with us?” Bennett asked. “How do we serve our student population?”

Council discussed the question of how a student enrolled in both classroom and online courses is served academically.

Kattesh Katti, vice chair of the council and professor of radiology and physics, said he’d heard that community colleges were embracing online learning quicker than research universities. “Are we too slow in this changing landscape?” he asked.

Bennett assured Katti that Mizzou Online was comparable to online teaching programs at other research universities. But there was room to grow.

“Are we where we need to be? I don’t think we are,” she said.

The “Integrating the Mizzou Student Experience” reports are expected in 2013.