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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

GRO shift to begin

General education, math and chemistry courses are among those most frequently repeated using the grade replacement opportunity.

More than 36,000 courses were repeated using the GRO between fall 2004 and spring 2008, including more than 1,550 different classes, according to data from the Undergraduate Council. Many of the courses are repeated to boost grade point averages and not because students fail them, according to Faculty Senate Chairwoman Wanda Howell.

Faculty Senate amended the grade replacement opportunity last year so that students will only be eligible if they have completed less than 60 credits at the university starting in fall 2011. Grades of “”C,”” “”D”” and “”E”” can still be replaced using the program.

“”This is being used to improve grades over time, and this really isn’t the point of it,”” said Howell, a nutritional sciences professor.

The change aims to correct misconceptions about the process, said George Gehrels, a geosciences professor and chair of the Undergraduate Council.

“”I think a lot of students use GRO to get rid of a course they took early on,”” he said. “”On their transcript, it not only appears, but it actually highlights it.””

The intent of the grade replacement option is to provide a “”forgiveness policy”” for students transitioning to the university, Gehrels said. This process is less effective if students have already taken many classes.

“”It turns out that bumping up a GPA with a large number of credits is hard to do,”” he said.

Many of the courses most frequently repeated under the grade replacement opportunity are those typically taken by students in their first or second year of college.

General education courses such as individuals and societies 102 and 101 ranked number one and two in most repeated courses, respectively, accounting for more than 9 percent of the total. Other general education courses including traditions and cultures 104, natural sciences 101 and natural sciences 104 were near the top of the list as well.

Students also commonly repeated several math and chemistry courses. Howell said many students try to improve their grade point averages for graduate and medical school.

“”There’s no difference at all in the reported grade averages in those classes than others,”” Howell said. “”If it’s that much harder, the grade averages would be different, and that doesn’t appear to be the case.””

Two Organic Chemistry classes, chemistry 241A and chemistry 241B, accounted for more than 4 percent of the total.

“”Students are very concerned about getting the best grade they can in the course because med schools look at that,”” said Gary Spessard, adjunct lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Spessard said many students view receiving a “”C”” in the course as a “”fatal error,”” but the amount of information covered in Organic Chemistry makes the class difficult.

“”I think it’s just overwhelming for a lot of students,”” he said.

Spessard said he is constantly aware of the course’s difficulty.

“”My goal is to try to make it as humane as possible,”” he said. “”We try to make it as straightforward as possible.””

Economics 200 is another course frequently repeated with 684 students using the grade replacement opportunity.

Mark Stegeman, an associate professor of economics who teaches the course, said sections include 350 to 400 students and 20 percent to 30 percent of the class receives “”D’s”” or “”E’s”” on average.

“”I have the impression sometimes that students who don’t do as well at the beginning of the semester check-out with the idea that they can GRO it,”” Stegeman said. “”Some of the people with ‘E’s’ didn’t even show up for the final exam.””

Stegeman said the course is challenging because it is mathematical and some concepts are abstract.

“”It takes a fair amount of work,”” Stegeman said. “”Some people are inclined to do that.””

Adaleta Avdic, a sophomore studying pre-business and psychology, did not fail economics 200 last semester but wanted to improve her grade.

“”I didn’t really want it on my transcript,”” she said.

Avdic said she had several friends in the class last semester, which was distracting.

“”I didn’t put in as much effort as I could have,”” she said.

Avdic said she wishes she was not in the position of retaking economics 200 but is happy the option is available.

“”It’s a lot easier this semester,”” she said. “”I’m pretty sure I can get an ‘A’ this time around.””

 

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