An Appropriate Audit
Published: Friday, February 14, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 14, 2014 00:02
On the first day of class it is common for teachers to tell students that participation will account for a large portion of their grade. Because this assessment is often based on a teacher’s subjective observations, it is only fair that students have access to the grade associated with this assessment prior to the end of the semester, lest they need to change their in-class habits.
We are lucky to attend a university that values engagement of class material, but if so much of a Georgetown GPA comes from participation grades, then students deserve feedback periodically throughout the semester on their performance, just as they would receive on their writing or knowledge of subject material.
The registrar should set a date approximately halfway through each semester by which point professors are required to post an accurate representation of the grade that each student has thus far earned. For participation-based classes, an evaluation halfway through the term would be especially helpful. Professors and students often have different standards for what constitutes fruitful class participation, and clarifying those standards early enough in the semester to rectify their differences would avoid end-of-semester surprises or complaints.
While putting unnecessary administrative requirements on professors should generally be avoided, in this case, a unilateral date for midsemester grades would solve more problems than it would create. Students are better able to meet their professors’ expectations when their performance is assessed at least once before final grades are released. Posting midterm grades could prove to be a worthwhile inconvenience.