Views sought on grading system

As part of an ongoing experiment on altering the MIT grading system, the Committee on the Undergraduate Program's Subcommittee on Intermediate Grades is asking all students and faculty to fill out a short anonymous survey.

When the current experimental grading system began in the fall of 1995, the Institute changed from a straight letter system (A, B, C, D, F) to one which uses plus/minus grade modifiers (A+, A, A-, etc.). These plus/minus modifiers are used only for internal grades -- those reported on end-of-term summaries and grade reports. The modifiers are not recorded on official grade transcripts, nor are they reflected in student cumulative grade point averages (CUMs).

The student survey on various grading options is available on the web-based Feedback Forum. A hard-copy version has been mailed to all faculty members. The faculty must vote on grading policy after the current experiment ends after the summer 1998 term.

The survey seeks opinions about three grading system options:
��������������������������� The current experimental system, where letter grades with plus/minus modifiers appear on internal grade reports but not on official transcripts.
��������������������������� A system which would expand the above to include plus/minus modifiers on official transcripts.
��������������������������� The pre-1995 system which used A, B, C, D and F without modifiers on both internal reports and official transcripts.

Surveying all three groups (faculty, undergraduates and graduate students) about a single issue is rare. It's also the first time that Feedback Forum has been used to survey the student population about an important Institute issue.

Feedback Forum is a web-based tool designed by two graduate students in electrical engineering and computer science, Jacob Seid and Andy Tian, to let users give and receive anonymous feedback. If the effort is successful, this mechanism could be used for other important Institute issues, saving money now spent on paper-based surveys. The system is now being used successfully in subjects such as 8.01, 3.091 and 8.02, and also by the Student Committee on Educational Policy.

Responding to the survey is voluntary, but faculty and students are strongly encouraged to fill it out. This will help ensure that the subcommittee will have enough information to make recommendations for a grading system that meets the needs of faculty and students.

The response period will close on Friday, Dec. 12. Questions or comments can be e-mailed to>. A discussion site, where further and more detailed views can be voiced, is being planned.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 19, 1997.

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