Burns, Michael Connolly, Lisa Cuklanz,
Thomas McGuinness, Michael Martin, Gilda
Morelli, Robert Murphy, Ourida Mostefai, Clare
O'Connor, William Petri, Jennie Purnell, David Quigley, Joseph
Quinn, Grace Simmons, Eileen Sweeney, Barbara Viechnicki.
Andrea Defusco-Sullivan, Vincent Dimaggio, Solomon Friedberg,
Omar Gonzales, Mary Daniel O'Keeffe.
CALL TO ORDER:Dean Quinn called the meeting to order at
MINUTES: Minutes for the meeting of February 18th 2004 were
approved subject to corrections offered by Dean Quinn and Bob
APPEALS. Jennie Purnell stated that the subcommittee had only heard
one case all year adding that the case had been resolved. Ourida Mostefai stated that the faculty member involved had
asked to see the letter from the subcommittee to the associate deans. There
followed a very brief discussion of procedure in view of this request.
HONORS.Bob Murphy represented
the subcommittee’s data on grade inflation stating that the problems noted at
the previous meeting had been corrected. He also presented new data comparing
grades between the sections of multi-section courses. Murphy noted that the
corrected data did not alter the original picture of the steady rise in
cumulative GPAs adding
that in the spring of 2003 50% of the
students in A&S had 3.46 or better cumulative GPAs
and that about 46% of all grades granted
were either “A” or “A-”.
Murphy stated that
the subcommittee did not recommend any specific policies to control or alter
grading practices but that the committee did recommend informing the faculty of
the grading patterns within their departments and across the college. He added
that the committee also discussed adding grade distribution information to
David Quigley stated
he had been truly shocked when he read the data, noted that similar issues had
now led Princeton to discuss taking specific measures to
control grade inflation, and added that BC needed to undertake a serious campus
wide discussion of grading practices. Noting that any discussion of grading
policy must be public, Ourida Mostfai stated that grades needed to be
considered from two different perspectives:
that of the students who feel pressure
to have very high GPAs on transcripts used for graduate school and employment
and that of the faculty who sense that
course satisfaction correlates to the students grades.
that it would be very hard to impose any averages or standards given that there
was not even agreement among faculty on a philosophy of grading and added that
any policy which imposed a grade average could have serious repercussions for
BC’s admissions. Bob
that there was a question as to how grades are read by graduate school
admissions committees and prospective employers. Dean Quinn stated that the
policy in some professional schools of imposing a course grade average would
not work in A&S departments.
stated that we could use a model of course design assessment setting goals for
courses and measuring success at attaining those goals. Joe Burns stated that Latin Honors were awarded not
according to fixed GPA as in many schools but as a percentage of the class. He
added that students were ranked within their class but noted that the difference
between students was frequently hundredths of a point. David Quigley stated
that the issue was really one of compression.
Morelli and Michael Martin stated that the data revealed that the
inflation or compression in grades could be explained by faculty expectations
remaining flat while the measurable quality of students consistently rose.
summarized the findings of the study as follows
over the college, by all measures,
grades have been steadily rising,
the quality of the students entering BC
was increasing along with the grades,
there were significant grading
differences among departments and within departments,
there were also large differences
between different sections of the same course, relative to the GPA of the
students in the class,
and that no school canvassed by the
subcommittee had done more than provide information to the faculty or
expand the information available in the students’ transcripts.
He then asked, “Now
what?” Several members responded there needed to be a campus wide discussion.
Grace Simmons added that this discussion must include the students. Michael
Connolly noted that one quick patch would be to change the grading on
undergraduate theses to “satisfactory/unsatisfactory”.
Dean Quinn closed the
discussion by thanking Bob Murphy and his subcommittee for all their work and by stating that this study
would be sent to the AVP and to the department chairs with encouragement to
begin discussion at the departmental level.
ACADEMIC AFFAIRS.Eileen Sweeney presented the subcommittee’s report on the use of
undergraduates as teaching assistants and graders and distributed the results
of questionnaires sent to departments and to the students who held
undergraduate teaching assistantships. She noted that in 1988 the EPC had
decided that students should not be responsible for grading but allowed for exceptions
on a case by case review by the dean where the course was designed specifically
to give students teaching experience. She also added that in some cases compliance
had been superficial at best.
Presenting the results
of the departmental questionnaires, Sweeney noted that the two largest users of
UGTAs were Mathematics and Communication.
She noted that all 37 Mathematics UGTAs
are called “graders” and are paid for tutoring and grading homework in
She also noted that 11 of the 38 Communication
UGTAs were paid for tutoring, leading WebCT discussion groups, taking
attendance and grading objective exams. The remaining Communication UGTAs
served in a variety of courses, including upper division courses, and
performed a variety of functions including tutoring, leading discussions,
making technical presentations, and grading.
Sweeney stated that the
Communication department was unhappy with this and had made a proposal to have
Sociology graduate students serve as paid TAs but that the university had not
funded the proposed program. She also stated that the Communication Department
felt that given the high student to faculty ratio the use of undergraduates as
teaching assistants gave some of their best majors a “capstone” experience.
Sweeney stated that
Films Studies Program and Fine Arts Department used undergraduate TAs to make
technical presentations in areas of film production and photographic technology
and technique. She added that Introduction to Feminisms, Black Studies, PULSE,
and Courage to Know all used undergraduates to lead discussions as a “method of
results of the student questionnaires, Sweeney noted there seemed to be
discrepancies between the views of the students and those of the departments
and faculty involved:
students claim they are more involved in
grading though all insist the faculty member has the final say,
students also defended their comparative
competence in the areas with which they were involved,
and they claimed to be less closely
supervised than the departments claimed.
Sweeney outlined the
issues as follows
The type of work done by UGTAs,
especially grading, presents concerns over privacy, competence, and
The type of compensation, payment versus
credit, presents concerns over
the learning experience of the UGTAs,
the rate of compensation and the amount
and course level of the credit given.
Sweeney added that
the departments thought eliminating course credit would make it difficult to
find enough qualified UGTAs.
Dean Quinn outlined
the issues he saw as follows
the number of undergraduates involved,
their involvement in grading,
the granting of credit rather than
the allowance of repeat credit for
working the same course,
and the failure of the university to
fund alternatives proposed by departments.
Dave Quigley questioned
whether this was a proper capstone experience in any major. Dean Quinn stated
it was not. Michael Connolly noted that there was a difference between being a
teaching assistant and being a course assistant and stated that students might
mark objective assignments but should not grade. Bill Petri noted that in the
case of internships, credit was limited to one credit per internship to a
maximum of three credits.
Quinn asked if
a student’s course participation was considered in the course grades when UGTAs
were discussion leaders. Sweeney responded that leading discussions in did
necessarily mean the UGTAs were directly involved in grading. Gilda Morelli expressed concern about anonymity of the
UGTAs. Joe Burns and Michael Martin stated that the use of undergraduates as TAs
produced unwanted social pressures.
why some courses needed six TAs. Sweeney replied that in some cases UGTAs
tutored and held office hours. Bill Petri stated that tutoring should be paid
for as in the AcademicDevelopmentCenter. Barbara Viechnicki
noted there were differences in the rates of compensation for the paid UGTAs.Joe Quinn stated that the cost of paying all UGTAs
needed to be calculated and that Mick Smyer should be approached for money to
hire graduate students.
Dean Quinn thanked
the subcommittee for its work.
THANKS. Dean Quinn thanked all the members of the EPC for a productive year. He
gave a special thank-you to Michael Connolly, Bob Murphy, and Clare O’Connor
whose terms expired with this meeting.