The plus/minus grading system is brand new to Drake University this year and has generated mixed responses since being implemented in the fall of 2016. To some students, the new grading system appears to hurt more than help their grades.

Ava Witthauer, the current senator for the college of business and public administration, discussed administering a survey so students can give feedback about plus/minus grading.

The survey would be open to all Drake students to gather input on the new system.

“The point of the survey is just to kind of gauge students’ achievement compared to years prior and now, and also their opinions on if they think it’s a good, positive change,” Whitthauer said.

Witthauer met with the Academic Affairs Committee consisting of the senators from each college on campus to form this survey. The survey stems from the negative feedback the committee received about the plus/minus system.

The survey also tries to seek out whether students think the current grading scale is representative of their grades and can be positive for their futures.

Before Plus/Minus Grading

Before the implementation of the plus/minus system, Drake had used the “whole letter” grading system. In the old system, any score from an 80 to 89 percent for example would be considered a “B,” for example. The scale now breaks each percentage down further to add points to a student’s GPA using pluses and minuses.

“I think that, in some ways, (the plus/minus grading system) could be a more accurate representation of student achievement, but I think there are a lot of flaws to what is happening,” Witthauer said.

Witthauer gave an example: if one student took a class with a professor who did not give exams, but only had graded discussions, that “A” should not be equal to another student in the same class who takes exams and quizzes every day.

Witthauer, along with Student Senate, is unsure as to why the plus/minus system has only been imposed this year. The survey seeks to understand the mentality and thoughts of students to take the issue to faculty senate if warranted by the student body.

Senator-at-Large Nathan Paulsen serves on Student Senate alongside Witthauer and expressed that the survey will have a tremendous impact on whether the new system does get overturned.

Paulsen spoke about how some of his professors are not using pluses and minuses in their classes, regardless.

“It could be, maybe, to make it simple on (the professors), also for students who are so used to not having a plus/minus system, I think that they sympathize with that,” Paulsen said.

Not all high schools use Drake’s new system for grades, so this may be a shock to students who have to adjust to the changes. Many students think that pluses and minuses will encourage students to achieve higher grades.

If a student ended up with 90 percent in all their classes, they would not necessarily receive a 4.0. Proponents say a positive to this system is that it may provide a sense of urgency to students and drive them to work harder for better grades.

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