University Adopts New Grading System

University Adopts New Grading System

Elementary Education major Mary Bustillos recently interviewed Dr. Ben McArthur, vice president for academic administration, regarding the new grading system that includes plus and minus grades. The new system will go into effect in fall semester, 2011.

Bustillos: Did you recently have a staff meeting regarding the grading system?

Ben McArthur

McArthur: That is true. The Academic Policies Committee makes policy, then it gets ratified by the entire faculty.

Bustillos: How long has this school used the current grading system?

McArthur: Oh, you got me there. From the very beginning I suppose; as long as they have been giving A’s, B’s, and C’s.

Bustillos: What prompted the change now?

McArthur: Well, a recognition that we’re the only Adventist college that doesn’t have plus-minus grading. One might say that is a distinctive feature in us; however it should suggest that the academic world finds value in a more refined grading scale. Virtually all graduate and medical schools use this type of grading system. It seems as though we should come into the light. This is where the trend is going. We have found no other school that has gone back to the former way of straight letter grading. It all goes one direction.

Bustillos: What is the benefit for the students?

McArthur: Two things actually: one for the student and one for the institution. You get a more precise evaluation of the student than A, B, C, D, and F. Well, you can do it that way if you want to do it that way. However, it is better and more accurate reflection of accomplishment to have a finer gradation. It is just fairer and more accurate way of grading. The second is that it motivates the students to improve themselves. Therefore, this inspires students to study extra for test in order to attain a higher grade. We want to find every means possible to motivate students and help their GPA.

Bustillos: Why wait this long to change the grading system?

McArthur: There was talk about it five years ago. Colleges are used to doing things in traditional ways. We just decided to implement plus-minus grading. Once students experience this, they’re going to like it. They’re going to wonder why we haven’t done this all along.

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  1. Pastor Jim Landelius
    December 14, 17:27 Reply
    I agreed with everything that Dr. McArthur said until the last two sentences. I don't think the majority of students are going to like the new grading system. As an Andrews InMinistry student, I'm under the +/- system and though I see the wisdom of it, I don't like it. Instead of the 3.83 GPA under the +/- system, I'd have a 4.0. There is only one class of student that this system benefits (from the student's perspective); the student who just can't quite get an A under the current system. A B+ is better than a B. I don't know a lot of students on campus, but as the leader for the Youth class at Oklahoma Camp Meeting, I keep in touch with a good number of them. Not one that I've spoken are looking forward to it. But I've been wrong before. Maybe I will be again......
  2. Eric Michaelson
    December 14, 18:31 Reply
    I will like the new grading system and then I am not going to like as well. I will hopefully like it because hopefully when I get a 90% on something I will then have an A- instead of a B on it. I rather see an A- instead of a B any day. I for sure would not like seeing a GPA go below a 4.00 just because I got the A- in the class or because I got a B+ on it when it could of been an A in the Old Grading system. But Kudos to Dr. McAurthur and the Board for jumping on the band wagon to finally implement the standard -/+ grading system.
  3. Peter Gust
    December 18, 05:08 Reply
    Don't like this it all. They did a good job as usual of pretending to listen to the students on this one. Why ask us if you're just going to go against what we want anyway? Kudos to all the B students at SWAU, which in turn would be D students at any other school. It's not hard to get good grades. Learning is not a reflection of a grade and it won't motivate a B student to study more, especially at the undergraduate level. I've never heard of anyone saying they wanted straight B pluses. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean we have to. That is a pretty terrible argument if you ask me. Second of all, how is it helping our GPA? The only benefit to this system is for B students, period. However, what it is doing is ruining the GPA of those students that will be looked at more closely, such as those planning to go to medical school. It's next to impossible to get a LEGITIMATE 95% in a science class. Humans make mistakes in hard classes, no matter how well they know the material. Take cell and molecular biology and let me know how it works out. Grade inflation will happen anyway so that teachers will reach their number of student A's in order to not get fired. Medical schools hardly look at GPA these days anyway, due to this inflation. Don't get me wrong, your GPA can't be much below straight As, but the MCAT holds way more weight. So really, you aren't helping give a better representation of the student, you are fabricating good B students. Most of which won't be furthering their education beyond a bachelors degree and therefore only rely on grades as a good pat on the back mechanism.
  4. Agoki, Chris
    December 18, 11:58 Reply
    I think GPA should be goal specific. i.e science majors should still maintain the current system since A+/A- is not a determinant factor on an individuals ability to be an excellent clinician. I don't know how consequential this is to a History major, and I would hinge on the fact that Dr. McArthur is approaching the subject from such a perspective. However, the truth remains that---An A student will make an A regardless of how high the bar is set. (If the institution is going to upgrade their grading system then they must upgrade their facilities and the means by which they teach---quid quo pro)

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