Apr 242012
Authors: Taylor Pettaway

With the school year winding down, raising grades for struggling students may be a possibility. For Colorado State students there are resources available to boost a few points on finals.

“Being realistic is really important,” said Heather Landers, director of Learning Programs at The Institute for Learning and Teaching. “At this point in the semester, if a student is really far behind and many course assignments have already been assigned points, it is difficult to raise a grade.”

However, according to Landers, the first step that students should take is to calculate their current grade in order to figure out if the grade is actually salvageable. Then, if they have enough points to possibly make it to a grade, start to focus on the class for the remainder of the semester.

“Figure out if it’s even possible according to the numbers to receive a particular grade,” Landers said. “Then, as long as it is still possible to pass the class, a student needs to focus for the rest of the semester –– it’s two more weeks. Turn off technology, set goals for each day what you’re going to get done. Focused study for short bursts of time is more effective than longer, interrupted sessions where you’re texting every five minutes and on Facebook.”

Landers suggests that struggling students should visit professors during their office hours. According to her, students don’t utilize this opportunity much, even though professors are the best resource to better understand a subject.

There are also resources available at TILT for students who want to do better. They offer programs including tutoring, study groups, academic and study skill workshops and academic coaching.

“Most of our programs are well attended,” Landers said. “These programs all support learning at the university in one way or another. Our programs enable students to be better learners, whether it is through enhancing learning skills or engaging students in learning beyond their coursework.”

Giving extra credit with iClicker points, online homework and optional exams are ways that marketing professor Joe Cannon uses to help students boost grades.

“[Extra credit] rewards students who want to work hard to get better,” Cannon said. “I like to reward student initiative.”

According to Cannon, about one-third of his students take advantage of the optional final. This final replaces one of the four exams, if the grade is higher than a previous exam taken during the semester. No matter what grade students get on the final exam, it cannot hurt their grade because if the final is lower than a previous exam, it is not factored into the grade.

“I do it to reward students who might have had a bad day and a bad exam score earlier in the semester and who are willing to put in the extra work required to take a comprehensive final exam,” Cannon said. “The only negative for the student could be if the final exam score doesn’t allow them to change their final grade in the class. I guess extra credit in various forms helps students get better grades and also rewards initiative.”

For some students, final exams are the best way to raise grades because it is an opportunity to revise mistakes made on past exams.

“I study all the material I failed before so that I can pass my finals,” said freshman food science and human nutrition major Lisa Fraiser. “I just calculate what I need to get on my exam then just focus on studying my butt off.”

Collegian writer Taylor Pettaway can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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