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Academic Standards and Student Records Committee

Minutes of April 23, 2006

  1. The Academic Standards and Student Records Committee met on Thursday, April 13, 2006 from 1:30 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. in S-111. The following members were attending the meeting: Dr. Charles Dameron,  Dr. Gautam Hazarika, Dr. Eldon Nelson,  Dr. James A. Telese, Mr. Steve Wilder, Mr. Tom Welther, and Dr. Taiel Yi.
  2. The committee’s first official business consisted of reviewing the minutes from the meeting of February 23, 2006. Dr. Nelson motioned to accept the minutes, and Dr. Hazarika, after requesting that the spelling of his first name be corrected,  seconded Dr. Nelson’s motion. Thus, the minutes were accepted with the correction.
  3. During this meeting, the committee focused on a single issue: whether or not faculty should be able to drop students who do not do well in their classes. Dr. Dameron pointed out that really two issues were involved. First, according to the registrar, students can be dropped at any time, and, second, a grade of F could be converted to a W after grades were assigned. Such a procedure may be fine if a student were incapacitated, as, for example, in a car accident. Dr. Nelson inquired how a grade of W could be justified if the student in question did not show up to class. Dr. Dameron responded that if at the beginning of a semester a student missed several meetings, he or she may violate the attendance rules put forth in a syllabus, prompting the instructor to initiate a drop. Also, Dr. Nelson added that the registrar should not award grades of W or grades in general. He further inquired whether the committee should draft a policy. Dr. Dameron answered in the affirmative, saying that it was the committee’s responsibility to do so, but he thought that the second point, the conversion of Fs to Ws by the registrar is out and would require a separate policy to be addressed. Dr. Telese asked about grades of I, and Dr. Dameron answered that they should be based on a form or contract between the instructor and the student.  Dr. Nelson pointed out that instructors should have an attendance policy in their syllabi, and Dr. Telese and Mr. Wilder mentioned that students should be assigned a grade of F at the end of the semester if they do not show up. Dr. Yi added that there should be a recovery method in place if a student is absent for good cause.
  4. Next, the committee further pursued the question of the W. Mr. Wilder explained that a grade of W did not involve judgment, whereas an F did. Dr. Eldon offered that when the expectation of attendance was violated, an F should be assigned. However, Dr. Hazarika opined that a student could not be attending but carry a passing grade. Dr. Dameron explained that the issue could have legal ramifications on the basis of the following scenario: An instructor’s policy may stipulate that a student can be withdrawn by the instructor after three unexcused absences and be given a grade of F. After having missed four times, a student could dispute the instructor’s action in court. What would the ruling be? Dr. Yi said that it was important to clarify who was going to give the grade. He personally did not want to assign a grade in the middle of the semester. Dr. Telese further pointed out a related problem: What would happen if the student in question completed all evaluative tools but did not attend? The committee members were generally concerned by the fact that students who might try hard to pass a class but ultimately fail are being punished under the current policy, while students who are slacking off and not showing up to class are being given a grade of W.
  5. After some more discussion, the committee drafted the following policy: In order to avoid academic consequences related to lack of attendance as defined in the course syllabus, students are advised to withdraw from the course by the published deadline. The committee asked the chair, Mr. Welther, to take the change in policy to the Academic Senate. This change in policy, if adopted by the university, will bar instructors from dropping students while a semester is in progress.

 

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