Committee presents grading solutions
A group of faculty members, administrators and students approved a recommendation Oct. 21 to solve the long-standing problem of grading seniors’ spring finals.
“For years, faculty have been required to turn in grades for graduating seniors even before some exams are scheduled to end,” Brad Thompson, department chair and associate professor of mass communication, said.
Thompson is in charge of the faculty Student Policy Committee.
Last spring, the Faculty Executive Council, which oversees all faculty committees, was tasked with solving the grading issue, Associate Professor of History Scott Smith said.
Smith is also the FEC’s chair.
“It has always seemed to the faculty members a very peculiar way to do things,” Smith said about the grading problem.
Thompson formed the Graduating Senior Grades Work Group, composed of three faculty members, two administrators and two students to investigate the problem and recommend a solution. The group ranked four solutions to the challenge of senior final exam grades:
1) Shorten Spring Semester by one day by moving Reading Day to the Friday before finals week and making finals Monday through Wednesday
2) Distribute diplomas after graduation
3) Eliminate Reading Day and hold exams Monday through Wednesday
4) Eliminate Reading Day and have exams Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
Spring Semester final exams are currently set with Reading Day on Monday and finals Tuesday through Friday.
The Associated Student of Linfield College Senate approved a proclamation Oct. 18, declaring students support for distributing diplomas during the Commencement ceremony. Faculty members on the Graduating Senior Grades Work Group strongly considered mailing diplomas after the ceremony as a
solution to the grading issue.
“I’ve never, I don’t believe, been at a place that didn’t mail them,” Thompson said.
The group examined the diploma policies of other schools in the Northwest, Thompson said. He said George Fox University, Lewis & Clark College, University of Oregon and others mailed diplomas, while schools such as Pacific and Willamette universities distributed them at graduation.
“I was surprised. It was a mixed bag,” Dean of Students Susan Hopp, an ex-officio member of the work group, said.
Student Center Director senior Evan Hilberg and Linfield Activities Board Special Event Chair junior Rachel Coffey, student representatives in the work group and the Student Policies Committee, said the proclamation represents student body opinion above and beyond what they can offer the group.
Senators voted Oct. 18 to include three alternatives to mailing diplomas. They are:
•reducing finals week from four days to three,
•beginning Spring Semester one day earlier and
•making Reading Day the Friday before finals week.
Senators voted against the option of eliminating Reading Day altogether.
ASLC President senior Colin Jones said the resolution was sent to various faculty and administrators Oct. 21.
Thompson sent the document to the members of the work group. But he said it missed the point, as it centered on mailing diplomas, but the group did not even recommend this as its top solution to senior grading issues.
“It seemed to me like they were jumping the gun,” Thompson said. “So far as I could tell, there was no demand behind the proclamation. It was simply an expression of ASLC students’ opinion.”
He said everyone on the work group was already aware of student opinion, too, so little discussion about it occurred.
Hilberg said the proclamation may have come out too late to be helpful but was concerned about the lack of discussion.
“No one voiced their opinion on the proclamation, which was odd,” Hilberg said. “I think Senate would have liked it to play a larger role. I don’t think they know exactly what role it has played yet.”
In the end, however, the ruling is up to the faculty.
“I hope that everyone involved can kind of see outside their world,” Hilberg said. “It’s very easy to be passionate and put a lot of effort into the side that you’re on and the side that’s going to affect you the most, but that’s not going to help anyone because the students don’t have a vote on this. The faculty are going to decide it regardless of what anyone else says. They have the final vote.”
Coffey said she hopes the students continue receiving diplomas at graduation.
The work group’s recommendations are under discussion in the four faculty divisions: arts and humanities, natural science and math, Portland, and social and behavioral sciences, Thompson said.
He said the Student Policies Committee will meet during the first week of November to talk about the divisions’ input and begin to compile a final proposal for the Faculty Assembly, which will ultimately vote on a final solution — perhaps.
“It may just die,” Thompson said. “[But] judging by what went on in the division meeting I was at yesterday, it’s not going to die.”
Kelley Hungerford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.