With bated breath

Late release of grades frustrates some students

A late release of grades from the fall term has some students questioning the university’s process. 

On Jan. 25, grades from first semester were released to students following a final exam date of Dec. 21. The release date fluctuates yearly depending on the date of the first term’s final exam; in 2015 all grades were accessible to students by Jan. 19. 

After the final exam, professors and instructors have 10 working days to submit final grades to WebAdvisor. 

“For me personally it’s more of a nuisance,” Louise Oborne, a student majoring in biochemistry, says. 

Oborne says that she would prefer to know her grades sooner than later. With official grades being released well into the winter term, she worries that students who may want to retake courses will not be able to register in time. 

“Maybe you want to retake it and get a better mark,” Oborne says.

Colin Russell, the University of Winnipeg Registrar, has the role of keeping student records, collecting and releasing grades. Russell says that the Senate and the academic standards committee play an important role in the release of grades. 

“The main issue for the timeline is that faculty have 10 working days after the end of the exam period to submit their grades,” Russell says.

This means that as a result of winter break, grades were not submitted until Jan. 14.

“Senate has oversight of the grades, that is done through the academic standards committee,” Russell says.

Russell explains this has reduced the previous timeline. Regarding the issue of prerequisite courses, he explains that students will be notified and not financially penalized if they fail a course needed for courses in the winter term. 

“In terms of prerequisites there is not a problem. After the grades are finalized the student records office looks at everybody who’s in a course in the next term that required a prerequisite and will be dropped from the winter course without fee.”

Tracy Whalen, an associate professor in rhetoric, writing and communications, believes that the release of grades must be consistent. 

“Institution rules must be for everyone,” Whalen says.

As a result of the exam schedule, professors have a responsibility for consistency and thoughtfulness when it comes to marking and submitting official grades. For these reasons, Whalen believes that the 10-day timeline is necessary for professors. 

In order to better prepare students for the release of grades, Whalen says that professors must give feedback to students.

“I like students to know where they stand,” she says. 

As a professor of rhetoric, Whalen feels strongly that feedback on assignments is necessary for students who may be studying a new discipline. Whalen also believes students must be proactive and email professors if they feel like they need assistance in a course.

She states that flexibility in making revisions as well as thoughtfulness when marking are important factors that professors must consider in setting a student up for success prior to the release of grades.

Professors have a responsibility to keep students up to date on their grades, and students have a responsibility to ask for support before the end of term. 

The risk for an undesired outcome in a course can be reduced with considerations made by both professor and student.

Published in Volume 70, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 3, 2016)

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