Faculty Senate approves changes to midterm grade policy

Jessa Schroeder

Kent State’s Faculty Senate approved providing midterm grades to all students enrolled in lower-division courses and extending the midterm grading period to begin the fourth week and end the seventh week of each full-semester course during its meeting Monday.

The purpose of the revision is to give students frequent feedback on their current standing and academic performance.

University College Dean Eboni Pringle said providing midterm grades to students earlier will allow students to make adjustments in their academic behavior before it is too late.

“Many of us know that by the time you hit the eighth week of the term, the only option at that point is to withdraw from the course,” Pringle said.

Professors are not required to give freshmen taking higher-level courses a midterm grade according to the new policy, Pringle said.

“Freshmen should get midterm grades, regardless of what class they’re taking, and I would see that as a problem with this system,” said David Smeltzer, associate journalism professor.

Members brought up discussion about the possibility of extending the Early Alert System instead, which allows instructors to identify students who are showing patterns of academic difficulty early on in their courses.

“We went with the expansion of the midterm grades versus Early Alert because it provides a grading option for students to allow them to actually understand how they are doing in the course, whereas Early Alert just adds the opportunity for staff discussion on performance issues,” Pringle said.

Because some classes administer midterm exams later on in the course, Pringle said the policy still allows five-eight or six-nine weeks window; while the goal, however, is for professors to move reporting earlier.

Pringle said by the time students reach junior and senior status, they should be able to determine what their course progress is without receiving an official reminder.

Some professors said they were worried about adding more tasks to their schedule by having to keep track of midterm grades for more classes.

“My concern is the workload,” said Darci Kracht, an associate math professor. “When you have hundreds of students, you don’t really want to keep changing the grade every time you give a quiz, but for me, the advantage to the student outweighs the increase in workload.

“If we had a better interface for entering the grades, that would make a huge difference,” Kracht added.

Pringle said university employees are attempting to make the system more efficient and hope to create a better interface that would allow for an upload of a spreadsheet by this fall.

Associate philosophy professor Deb Smith said she would like to see data collection on current freshmen and sophomore withdrawal rates.

“Because there is a concern that it could increase withdrawals, I would really like to see us collect some data now on them to see how they are impacted,” she said. “If we implement this, we could revisit in another year or two.”

The Senate agreed to add an amendment to conduct a collection of data over a two-year period to oversee how the plan affects student success.

Also addressed in the meeting were key points taken from the spring Faculty Senate retreat, which will be further examined over the next few years.

Points included greater transparency on how tax and student dollars are used and the possibility to hire more tenure-track faculty and decrease administrative and professional staff.

“I’d like to encourage the president to review the administrative structure and see where there’s overlap and possible reduction in terms of administration and professional staff,” Williams said.

Williams said another main focus is to get back to making policy decisions based on the criteria of quality and pedagogical enhancements rather than profit-making.

“We see that there’s a real problem with (responsibility center management) making departments think about profit, profit, profit, and then making decisions based simply on that criteria, rather than what would be best for the student,” she said.

Also discussed were openings in administrative positions and a report over the Copyright Policy Draft.

The meeting took place Monday afternoon in the Governance Chambers room and lasted about an hour.

Contact Jessa Schroeder at [email protected].