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Academic Programs Committee Reports

Report of the Academic Programs Committee

to University Council

April 19, 2001

Item for Action

Policies for Reporting of Final Grades

Background

The Planning Committee, in response to a request by the USSU, asked the Academic Programs Committee of Council to investigate the causes of the delays in the final reporting of grades.

The consequences for students of this delay can be severe. Students need to know whether they have passed a Term 1 course that serves as a prerequisite for a Term 2 course. Similarly, if they fail a Term 2 courses, they may need to know this to enroll in Spring and Summer Session.  If this information is not delivered in a timely fashion, students who fail courses may find their choices severely limited when they attempt to change their course registration. Furthermore, their academic standing in new courses may be jeopardized by late registration. Delays can also imply financial consequences, as late registration may jeopardize the renewal of student loans and lead to financial penalties imposed by the institution.

Section 1.4.4.ii of the University Council Regulations on Examinations indicates:

Reports of final grades for all one- and two-term classes
and for 100-level, two-term classes examined at midyear will be submitted
according to procedures established by the Office of the Registrar: ·
No later than the end of the official examination period, for those classes
with no examination in the official examination period;· Within
five working days (counting Saturday, but not Sunday) after the examination
date, for those classes with examinations within the official examination
period.

The Academic Programs Committee requested that the Registrar compile statistics to measure the magnitude of the problem in the most recent examination period. The examination period for Term 1, 2000 was December 9th-21st. The University was closed from December 23rd to January 2nd, during which time it was impossible to post grades with U-STAR unless grades were submitted electronically. We assume for the purpose of this study that the only examinations for which the requirement was binding were those written between December 9th and16th. Within this period approximately 28,000 examinations were written on campus . As of January 2nd, 8018 marks from
these examinations had not been reported, or about 29 percent of the marks that were due according to Council Regulations.

However this statistic does not indicate the full magnitude of the problem. Between December 18th and December 21st, another 13,000 examinations were written and as of January 2nd, 7579 marks, or 58 percent of these marks had not been reported. Thus, as of January 2nd, 15,579 out of 41,000 marks had not been reported, or 38 percent of the total.  It does appear that students� concern about the timely reporting of grades is legitimate.

Upon further investigation the APC discovered that the issue of examination scheduling and reporting of grades is very complex. The proliferation of half courses has increased the number of examinations in a given period and this has imposed less flexibility in the scheduling of examinations. Thus, many course exams must be scheduled shortly before the University closes, thereby ensuring that the posting of marks will be delayed beyond the five-day limit.

However even in the period where the five-day limit is feasible, there may be legitimate reasons for delay. For example, departments have a duty to ensure fairness in grading patterns across multi-section courses. One method of achieving fairness is to withhold grades in one section until all examinations are written. Then all marks are considered together before section grades are submitted. The logistics involved in this process may make it impossible to comply with the five-day reporting deadline.

A second legitimate reason for delay is that while the examination schedule ensures that a student shall not have to write more than two examinations in one 24-hour period, there is no attempt to prevent the bunching of examinations for faculty. Thus, a professor may find that all her courses are scheduled within a very short timeframe making compliance problematic.

Recommendations

1. The Committee believes that, notwithstanding the legitimate reasons for the delays of the recent past, a part of the problem rests with faculty and only a concerted effort by all will lead to improvement. Furthermore, we believe that although the closure of the University makes the posting of grades difficult if not impossible during the holiday period, there is no reason why these grades could not be in the hands of the Registrar on the first working day in January. Such a deadline would minimize the academic and financial impact on students of the delay in posting of grades. The Committee recommends the following motion to Council for approval:

That all final grades of Term 1 courses shall be in the hands of the Registrar by the end of the first working day in Term 2, or within five working days following the examination date, whichever occurs first.

2. Because of the lengthened term for the Spring and Summer Session, the time between the end of examinations in Term 2 and the start of the Spring and Summer Session is much shorter that in the past. For example, in 2001 the examination period ends on Saturday April 28th and the Spring and Summer Session begins on May 7th. It is likely that delays in Term 2 reporting of grades will have more severe consequences given the new terms for the Spring and Summer Session. The Committee recommends the following motion to Council for approval:

That for all Term 2 and two-term courses with examinations within the official examination period, final course grades shall be in the hands of the Registrar by the end of the first day in the Spring and Summer Session, or within five working days following the examination date, whichever occurs first.

3. To address the issue of noncompliance with the new regulations,
the Committee recommends the following motion to Council for approval:

That each January and May the Registrar shall identify all courses for which final grades are not reported by the end of the first working day in Term 2 or the first day in Spring and Summer Session, respectively, and shall notify the respective Department Head, or Dean in non-departmental colleges, and the Office of the Vice President (Academic). The Departments Head, or Dean in non-departmental colleges, shall report the reasons for the failure to meet the deadline to the Office of the Vice-President (Academic).

4. To ensure that faculty are aware of their obligations to report grades in a timely fashion, the Committee recommends the following motion to Council for approval:

That the five working days/ first working day of Term 2/ first
day of Spring and Summer Session deadlines for the reporting of final grades
be distributed to faculty along with the final notice of examination dates.

5. Another policy that accentuates the difficulties in posting of grades is the regulation that no grades are posted on U-STAR until the end of the examination period. We believe that this policy is unduly paternalistic and does not serve the students well. Accordingly the Committee recommends the following motion to Council for approval:

That the Registrar post final grades on U-STAR as they are received.

6. There will always be delays in the posting of grades because of the closure of the University for the Christmas period and the short time between the April examination period and the Spring and Summer Session.  Nevertheless, there are two steps we can take as faculty to minimize the impact of these delays. The Committee recommends the following motion to Council for approval:

That, once final grades are approved by the Department Head, or Dean in non-departmental colleges, departments and faculty are encouraged to

(a) submit grades electronically using E-grades (the electronic grade submission procedure),

and

(b) post grades at the department level, without revealing
student names.







Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Committee


_____________________

Bob Lucas, Chair

Academic Programs Committee of Council



Committee members:

L. Brown, Extension

L. Currie, Library

R. Kushwaha, Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering

G. Hughes, Plant Science

L. Proctor, Curriculum Studies

D. Pennock, Soil Science

S. Reid, Chemistry

N. Senior, Languages and Linguistics

H. Wagg, Sessional Lecturers

S. Shukla, USSU

M. Acharya, GSA

K. Smith, Registrar

P. Melis, Office of the Vice-President Academic

M. Evered, Associate Vice-President Academic

M. Atkinson, Vice-President Academic

C. Fornssler, Committee Coordinator (Secretary)