Teaching Council Committee

Report to Faculty Council

April 12, 2000

The Teaching Council met three times during the Spring semester 2000 to discuss the charge from the Faculty Senate relative to "early grade reports". In particular, the major issues the Teaching Council was asked to resolve are as follows:

Are early grade reports of value to the students and advisors?

If we have early grade reports, should there be a voluntary option for faculty?

When should early grade reports be done? How do we minimize time lags from instructor to students and advisors?

During the first meeting January 31, 2000, the committee decided to separate the debate of Early Grade Reports into two tracts: a) conceptually, is this a good idea?, and b) mechanics or procedures involved in Early Grade Reports. It was decided at this meeting that advisors from every college, the Dean of Enrollment Management, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and students would be involved.

Guests attending the February 14 meeting included: Angie Maxwell, Dave Dawson, Nancy Talburt, Libby Wheeler, Karen Boston, Dionne Klingensmith, and Ethel Goodstein. In addition, Mark Cory, Paul Kirkpatrick, and Melissa Harwood-Rom communicated with the committee via e-mail since

they were unable to attend the meeting. It is important to note that everyone listed was very strongly committed to the policy of Early Grade Reports.

Since Dr. Sears brought the motion to the Faculty Senate, the Teaching Council thought it was appropriate and important to solicit his original motion, rationale and any feedback about dropping Early Grade Reports.

Dr. Sears sent his rationale to the committee (copy attached) for our review.

After meeting with everyone and reviewing any/all comments and

documentation, the Teaching Council met again on March 6, 2000 to finalize our report to Faculty Council.

The Teaching Council Committee supports and endorses the policy listed in the Faculty Handbook (August 13, 1999) under section 4-2 Grading, Examinations and Grade Reporting.

The Campus Council has gone on record as "affirming the fundamental responsibility of instructors to inform students of their progress". In meeting this responsibility, early progress grades are submitted by faculty at the end of six weeks for students in 1000 - 2000 level courses. Early progress grade reports are issued to students in the seventh week, immediately upon receipt of grades from the faculty, with reports made available to Dean's offices for advisors.

Based on the feedback from the "advisory group", the Teaching Council would also like to recommend the following:

FACULTY

1. Be encouraged to submit Early Grade Reports electronically.

2. Be given the opportunity to report excessive absences as part of Early Grade Reporting.

3. Be encouraged to include the date of Early Grade Reports on syllabus (for 1000 - 2000 level classes)

4. Be strongly encouraged to structure their evaluations and assessment strategies to afford students meaningful feedback by the six week interval.

ADMINISTRATION

5. Include the dates for Early Grade Reports in the calendar of events in the schedule of classes (i.e., racing form).

6. Secure a computer system which will have the ability to provide Early Grade Reports to the student, advisor and departments simultaneously.

This should significantly cut down on "turn around time".

Respectfully submitted,

Ro Di Brezzo, Chair, Teaching Council


Dr. Sears original motion -

Faculty Senate, 8th December 1999

I would like the Faculty Senate to adopt the following

resolution. That:

"Faculty Senate requests that the University stops issuing 'Early Grade Reports'".

My arguments are the following:

They are premature rush-to-judgements.

They reflect a one-size-fits-all attitude to teaching.

Depending on the material being taught, the approach of the individual teacher, the subject matter, the way similar material is taught at high school, performance during the early part of a course my not be a good indicator of overall performance.

1.They discourage students from discussing their progress directly with the professor.

2.They are an interference into the teaching methods of individual faculty.

Of course, this resolution does not prevent individual faculty from issuing such grades if they deem it appropriate and helpful.

Derek Sears

Chemistry and Biochemistry

* I have learned that many of my colleagues dislike Early Grade Reporting but cite "research" favoring this practice. None seem to be able to locate this research, neither can our Office of Institutional Research. In any event we should still avoid the uncritical application of general results to specific cases. The quoted reason for Early Grade Reports is that they assist with student retention, and I am as keen as anyone on campus to see our retention rates continue to rise, or even accelerate in the rate of improvement. However, these grades may mislead students into dropping or not extending a full effort because they are inaccurate rush-to-judgements.

Clearly our anxiety over one issue should not blind us to other issues.