Faculty holds off plus/minus vote

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    TCU has delayed making the decision to switch to a plus/minus grading system because further research is needed, said Faculty Senate member David Grant.He said the Faculty Senate was orginally set to vote last May to adopt or reject the system, but the vote was delayed.

    A detailed proposal, including how the plus/minus system could affect financial aid and grade inflation, will be presented to the Faculty Senate next semester, said Grant, a religion professor and chairman of the committee preparing this proposal.

    He said if the plus/minus system is approved by the Faculty Senate and the university, it could be implemented as early as fall 2007.

    Grant said the Faculty Senate wants more input from the campus community. The committee researching the issue will meet with the House of Student Representatives next week.

    He said using pluses and minuses will more accurately represent the grades students deserve.

    “A lot of universities have moved to using pluses and minuses in the past 20 years,” Grant said. “Eighty percent of the top 120 universities are using some form of intermediate grading system.”

    Grant said he e-mailed TCU faculty about changing the grading system in April. Out of the 96 responses, 69 favored adding pluses and minuses, 22 were opposed and five were undecided.

    One faculty member who opposes adding pluses and minuses is Dick Rinewalt, associate professor of computer science. He said this system would put more pressure on faculty because they would be choosing from 12 grades instead of four.

    “When you double the number of grade options, you double the number of student complaints,” Rinewalt said.

    Students are also divided on the issue.

    Freshman nutrition major Andrea Figueron said pluses and minuses would give students a more accurate grade.

    But her friend Kelly Basham, a freshman finance major, said it would depend on where a student is on the grade scale.

    Universities such as Clemson, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Central Florida, have done studies on the plus/minus grading system. The consensus from these reports is that the plus/minus system makes it harder to make a 4.0 but helps B and C students.

    According to the Clemson study, 81 percent of students who would have a 4.0 GPA would lose it with a plus/minus system.

    The study also concluded that 3 percent of students with financial aid dependent on a 3.0 GPA would lose it.

    Another issue the UCLA study found was that over a period of seven to 10 years, a plus/minus system contributes to grade inflation.

    Rinewalt said TCU already has a grade inflation problem.

    “My major concern is that this will only fuel that,” he said.