System a plus or minus?

Aug 292002
Authors: Colleen Buhrer

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it extremely frustrating to work my butt off for a class and end up with the same grade as other people who barely did any work at all. Teachers who do not use pluses or minuses are usually at fault for this frustration.

If the students voted to have the plus-minus system put in place on campus, it must have been for a reason.

The argument I hear is that we already have five designations for grades; there is no reason for 12. There is a reason for twelve though when students can do more than five levels of work and teachers refuse to bump grades up for hard work.

An argument against the system usually comes from people who get grades with minuses, but I don’t agree that just because someone gets an A minus instead of an A that the entire system should be trashed. I have had many instances in my educational career when teachers gave me A minuses, and I was just as angry as the next person, but in most cases I didn’t work as hard in those classes as I did in the one’s I got A’s in.

The biggest complaint I have about the plus-minus system is that it is not consistent throughout campus. The system can be very beneficial to students, but only if all the teachers use it. It can completely screw with grade point averages if different teachers grade differently.

I think the system can be seen as a very positive for students. I am typically more motivated to work harder in a class that uses a plus-minus system, than one that doesn’t.

If people know they are going to get a B from the work that it takes to get an 80 percent as opposed to getting a B minus for that work, then they are not going to work as hard. I know I wouldn’t. Whereas, if they know they will get a B minus for only getting 80 percent they may be more encouraged to work harder.

In my BZ110 class I took my sophomore year, I worked really hard for an A in that class. My study guide for my final was 75 pages typed (before I found out she reuses the questions from previous exams). When all was said and done I ended up with an 89.7 in the class. The teacher gave me a B.

It made me angry because I know other people in the class who did not work as hard as I did, but got the same grade. Thus, I think the plus-minus system should stay. It can encourage students to work harder, instead of discouraging them from working hard.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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Aug 292002
Authors: Vince Blaser

For those freshmen who are not yet aware of the “unique” grading system we have here at CSU, let me fill you in.

Almost all of you are probably used to getting a 4.0 grade point average for an A average, a 3.0 for a B average and so on. Well, because of the “plus-minus” system we have here at CSU, your Grade Point Average could be less, or in the rare case more, than what you expect.

At CSU, any minus you receive in a class is deducted in your GPA. An A minus is not worth 4.0 but a 3.67, a B minus is worth 2.67 and so on down the line to a D minus worth 1.67. The flip side of the coin is that plusses are worth more. Students receive a 3.33 for a B plus, 2.33 for a C plus and a 1.33 for a D plus.

Well here lies the first flaw in the system. While students can receive an A plus for near flawless work in a class, they still only receive a 4.0. However, an A minus is still discounted against. Take a student who receives an A plus for a 98 in one class, gets 3 As for 96 percents and gets an A minus for a 92 percent. What is that student’s GPA? A 3.9.

While GPA is not a factor for graduation it does have a great effect on students. Many departments at CSU have a much higher GPA requirement for their students than the university’s 3.0. The business school requires an overall 3.0 just to be in the school. In addition, GPA is often vitally important for scholarships, grants, internships, jobs and study abroad.

I understand why students brought a possible plus-minus system to the administration in the first place. An 89 in a class is much harder to achieve in many cases than an 80. However, the system is so badly flawed that it hurts students much more than it helps them.

Another flaw I’m talking about is non-conformity in the system. It’s the option of the professor of whether or not to give plusses and minuses. Even further, a professor can decide to give only plusses or only minuses. While I’ve never heard of a professor giving only minuses, the option of the professor is ludicrous. One student can get in classes where no professor uses the system, get all 90s, and get a 4.0. Another student, myself being one, could get straight As and be in many plus-minus classes and get a 3.83 for two A minuses.

Now I know some people are going to say I’m just whining because I got screwed – which I did twice out of a 4.0 by the way – but this is about the flaws in the system. I also believe someone who gets 4 Cs and a C minus deserves to stay in this school, especially in departments like engineering where I’ve heard the average grade is a C minus.

I don’t think the plusses and minuses should be used in calculating GPAs at all. We already have five different classifications of how a student performs in a class; I don’t think we need 12. However, if the student body decides they want a plus-minus system, that’s our choice. But I urge you to let ASCSU and the administration know how you feel about the system.

And for those freshmen who haven’t received any grades yet, watch out for the dreaded minus.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm