Getting grades approved

Process aims to strike a balance between oversight and expediency

University of Winnipeg final grades will be available by Jan. 27 at the latest. Between the end of exams and the release of marks, there is an important approval process that takes place at the departmental level. 

“The grade submission deadline, for the fall and winter terms, is 10 working days after the end of exams,” Colin Russell says. 

Russell has been the University’s Registrar since 2006. 

Departmental Review Committees (DRCs) have been responsible for approving final grades since the senate, the university’s academic governing body, delegated approval beginning for the spring term of 2012. 

Each department has a DRC comprised of faculty. The committee signs off on course outlines, investigates academic misconduct, and considers grade appeals in addition to grade approval. 

DRCs review grades and submit them to student records, who then run a statistical analysis called the course comparison index (CCI) and return the data the next day giving departments two days to confirm grades are ready for posting. 

 “(The CCI) takes all the students in a class,” Russell explains, “and compares their grades in this course to the grade that they got in their other courses,” excluding students who have not completed three courses.

Currently, CCIs are provided for information only. 

“The assumption is that if you are typically a C student, you should probably get a D if you did poorly or a C+ if you did well,” Russell says. “It would be somewhat unusual for you to get an A+”.

The index works on a class level. “If everybody in the class is a C student and they all get A+s,” Russell elaborates, then that would lead to a high deviation, a high CCI score. If a statistically significant portion of a class deviates from their normal grade range, the DRC may ask the instructor to explain the discrepancy. 

This year, the grades submission deadline was on Jan. 13. Only a handful of department DRC chairs answered questions about how their committees approve grades. 

The goal, according to the DRC Chair for Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications, “is to ensure that final grades are accurate, transparent, and fair.” The DRC compares an instructor’s mark sheet, course outline, and their pending grades. If an issue arises questions are asked until the committee is satisfied. 

The Department of Modern Languages and Literatures follows a similar process. 

“The DRC respects our faculty colleagues, and recognises that grades belong to Senate, not to us,” the Women’s and Gender Studies and Disability Studies DRC Chair says. Their Committee checks for missing grades and grading errors such as final grades that are not allowed like a B-. 

Urban and Inner City Studies’ (UIC) DRC works with instructors to approve grades that set “standards — course outcomes, reading load, type and difficulty of assignments across the UIC curriculum.” Students can expect to receive an accurate assessment of their preparedness for courses across the University. UIC has decided on a rough guideline of an average of C+. Instructors are consulted based on the CCI reports. 

“The academic standards committee,” according to Russell, “would review from time to time so that there was centralized review of how the delegation (of grade approval) has gone. That hasn’t been done yet, but it will probably be done pretty soon.”

Published in Volume 71, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 19, 2017)

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