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Academic Standards and Student Records Committee

Minutes of October 10, 2006

  1. The Academic Standards and Student Records Committee met on Thursday, October 10, 2006 from 1:30 p.m. till 3:00 p.m. in N-217. The following members were attending the meeting: Dr. Gautam Hazarika, Ms. Ethel Cantu, Ms. Kathleen Carter, Ms. Ana Linville, Dr. Eldon Nelson, Dr. James A. Telese, Mr. Steve Wilder, and Mr.Tom Welther.
  2. After perusing the minutes, committee members made the following corrections to the minute: Ms. Ana Linville’s name was added to the list of people who had attended the meeting, the spelling of Ms. Linville’s surname was changed from “Linnville” to “Linville” in paragraph 3 and 7; in paragraph 4 the verb “required” was changed to “inquired,” and “Dr. Barreda” was changed to “Mr. Barreda.” When the corrections were finalized, Ms. Linville moved that the minutes be approved. With Dr. Nelson seconding her motion, the committee accepted them.
  3. The committee continued its discussion concerning what grades to give students who never attend or drop a class. Once again, Dr. Nelson broached the topic by mentioning that he could see students’ names being purged from class rosters of classes that they never attended; however, he felt that students who drop a class should receive a grade in accordance to their performance in class. Thus, if they did well, they should be assigned a grade of W; if they didn’t do well, they should be given a grade of F. Ms. Cantu noted that instructor cannot assign a grade of F during the semester, only at the end of the semester. Having researched withdrawal policies of other universities, Ms. Carter explained that other schools assign a grade of W, but students have to withdraw from all courses to get such a grade. If students only drop an individual class, they receive a grade of Q. Dr. Telese mentioned that a grade of W could not be assigned at the end of the semester. Finally after this short discussion, Dr. Nelson inquired what should be done.
  4. Mr. Welther asked Ms. Carter whether she was aware of other universities allowing instructors to drop students. She replied that she was not aware of other institutions doing so. Ms. Linville mentioned that the Registrar’s Office required an entry of last day attended when an F was assigned, which might complicate the procedure of assigning a grade of F during the semester further. However, Dr. Nelson pointed out that this would take care of Ms. Chapa’s problem. Ms. Linville also told the committee members that she had contacted students who had stopped attending class. Once contacted, these students dropped themselves. Next, Mr. Welther asked about the difference between students being dropped and students dropping themselves. Dr. Nelson replied that he would like to see the grades of WF and WP to reflect the academic performance of the students in question. In addition, he felt that faculty members should have the right to assign a grade. Dr. Telese, however, offered that passing and failing grades should only be given at the end of a semester, and Dr. Hazarika mentioned that he did not have an attendance policy in his syllabi. Dr. Nelson expressed his strong feeling favoring a grade of WP or WF by stating that the university should train students to be responsible because they will enter the job market. Dr. Telese pointed out that the university was not the students’ employer, and Ms. Cantu explained that if students did not attend their classes, their grades would inevitably suffer.
  5. Ms. Cantu further urged the committee to stick with the agenda and write up appropriate information for students and faculty in regard to not attending or dropping classes. She felt that there was no real difference in content but that there was a difference in wording. Dr. Nelson reminded the committee members an F was an option on all three versions expressed in the Registrar’s website, the Student Handbook, and the Undergraduate Catalog of 2005-2006. Ms. Cantu added that a grade of W could be given if they never attended a class or withdrew completely. If students dropped themselves after the 20th day or one third into the semester, they could be assigned a WP or WF, depending on their academic performance. Dr. Hazarika mentioned that if a student received a failing grade, the Registrar’s Office required an entry showing the last day of attendance. Ms. Cantu explained that it was important to catch non-attending students early. Ms. Carter observed that a grade of F drops a student’s grade point average, which might not be fair in certain situations, like a family emergency. Dr. Nelson, then, inquired what to do with a student who drops a single class. Ms. Carter explained that at UT Austin, instructors can assign a grade of Q up to the mid-semester point; once this point has passed, the grade is an F. At UT Pan American, instructors can only assign a grade of WP or WF when a student drops a single class.
  6. Dr. Telese raised the question whether the Student Government shouldn’t be involved in this discussion, and Ms. Linville wanted to know whether the Academic Standards and Student Records Committee worked with Early Alert. Dr. Nelson replied that he didn’t think so. Ms. Cantu pointed out that there was confusion among faculty members between reporting students to the Registrar’s Office and Early Alert. She further explained that instructors only needed to report students who had never attended classes unless there was a specific need for financial aid to drop students who stopped attending.
  7. When Dr. Nelson questioned attending members as to who set academic standards, Dr. Hazarika said that instructors did. Dr. Nelson, then, continued by saying that instructors didn’t challenge the students. At this point, Dr. Telese interjected that UTB/TSC was a community university, an institution that was trying to accommodate students, many of which come from lower socio-economic groups. Ms. Cantu expressed her reluctance to punish students because of external circumstances. Dr. Nelson offered that instructors could make appropriate judgment. However, Ms. Cantu wondered whether this judgment was going to be based on class work or excuse, and she further noted that there was a great variation among instructors. Ms. Carter mentioned that other universities limit students as to the number of Qs they may be assigned.
  8. Dr. Nelson told the attending committee members that the state encouraged students to attend college; therefore, there was a need for standards, and if there was a doubt as to the standards, it was the committee’s responsibility to establish them. Mr. Welther said that if students never attended a class, they should be reported to the Registrar’s Office, and if they disappeared during the semester, they should be reported to Early Alert. Ms. Ethel Cantu asked the attending committee members if the university should have a mandatory attendance policy. Dr. Hazarika suggested that instructors give stiff exams to raise the bar. Dr. Nelson returned to the issue of grades by mentioning that the Registrar’s Office should not assign grades and that he wanted to see some measure of performance implemented for student who dropped out. Ms. Cantu wondered at what point such a grade should be given and whether both student and faculty initiated drops should be considered in this context. Ms. Linville felt that up to midsemester no grade should be given, but thereafter, it should be an F. Dr. Nelson felt that up to that time a grade of DP or DF should be assigned if a student dropped a class. The instructor should still be able to evaluate the student’s performance. He also mentioned that an instructor should always make the decision concerning what grade to give; he or she didn’t need the approval of the dean. Ms. Cantu agreed with a smile. Mr. Welther tried to summarize the opinion of the committee by stating that the committee members agreed on dropping students who had never attended a class, that a withdrawal included to withdraw from all classes, and that a grade of DP or DF might be given if a student dropped a single class during the semester.
  9. However, the debate whether a grade should be attached or not continued. Dr. Hazarika inquired whether the grade of I could be implemented in this context. Ms. Cantu responded that such a grade had to be made up by a student by the end of the semester. Mr. Wilder wanted to know what other community colleges were doing. His comment sparked the idea among members to find out what other peer institutions both at the community college and university level were doing. Dr. Nelson suggested developing an information grid to make informed decisions. Ms. Carter agreed to investigate how peer universities handled withdrawals and drops, and Ms. Linville agreed to look into these issues regarding peer community colleges.
  10. Around 3 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.


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