With the move to online courses in higher education during the current health crisis, many college and university students in California have criticized the learning experience and said regular AF grades should be replaced with a system. pass / fail assessment this spring. Some students want to at least be able to choose between the two types of marks until face-to-face instruction resumes.
Campuses across the country and state are responding in various ways. UC Berkeley is transitioning to pass / fail this semester, but will allow students to request a grade by letter. The UCLA keeps the marks by letter but allows students to opt for the passage / no passage for as many courses as they wish, unlike the usual per authorized term. California Community Colleges are waiving the deadline for students to choose a pass / fail grading option instead of a traditional letter grade. Cal State campuses are investigating how to expand the number of credit / non-credit courses a student can take and also how far to extend the timelines for such choices.
Kilmer Salinas, a member of EdSource’s California Student Journalism Corps, asked California students for their views on this controversial and complicated issue. Some answers have been edited for length.
Erica Beas. Junior in Cal State LA. From Downey. Specialization in TV and cinema media.
As long as the pass / no pass doesn’t affect my GPA, I can’t complain as this is a one-time semester.
It will be unfair to the students who put in more effort and worked to return each homework and attend each class compared to the students who slacked off this semester and who will likely end up doing well.
Even though we are told that we will be able to resume classes via Zoom, this will not apply to my video production class. This is an essential part of my major requirement. Not all of the work I put in my production package will be done this semester, which is disheartening.
Aaron Causapin. Senior in Cal State LA. From West Covina. Specialization in kinesiology, rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise.
I plan to become an occupational therapist after obtaining my bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. So far I’ve only struggled with one class and do very well with my other three classes. It is difficult to study at home because I help take care of my grandmother who has Alzheimer’s disease. Not having access to the quiet area of the third floor of the library makes it difficult to concentrate on studying.
The pass / no pass grading system will benefit me – knowing that my GPA won’t be affected by not getting really high grades, I can focus more on the job and save money. I think most students will appreciate it. Not having direct, practical interaction with classmates and teachers affects student learning and outcomes.
One of the flaws of the pass / no pass system is that students’ efforts to achieve good grades will be in vain, as it will not improve their GPA. But the grading system with or without success will help alleviate the stress of school.
Stephanie Ibarra. Second year at UC Merced. From Los Angeles. Specialization in sociology.
A pass / no pass system will allow students to stress less during this time of uncertainty and help those with mental health, family and health challenges. It can have a positive result.
One flaw this can have is that those who already have the grade they want in a class can have that grade removed with the pass or fail system.
However, I think it was the best decision for our health as students. It can also be an easier way to pass lessons without the letter grades affecting us as much.
This (end of face-to-face classes) affected my professional career as I was involved in organizations on campus that I liked to go to and hoped to expand my professional career with, so with this stop during this semester, c It’s harder to do this or proceed with the events I intended to attend. It also ended a potential internship that I was looking forward to. As far as my grades go I think it will have an impact as I am a visual learner and by not being in my classes it can potentially hurt my GPA which I really tried. get up.
Dennis Gonzalez. Senior at Cal Poly Pomona. Specialization in political science at Cal Poly Pomona. From Echo Park, Los Angeles
I have made a habit of submitting all homework and completing assigned readings. My work habits will allow me to be successful, however, not all courses contain the same amount of content workload. Some courses are less demanding. For example, vector dynamics requires more understanding to grasp concepts and apply them correctly [as compared] in a social science course.
[A] the failure to “pass or not pass” is the possibility of not mastering the content of the course. Second, the decision is up to the teacher on the basis of a vague system rather than a constructed point system. Not to mention, the possibility of a class curve increasing its chances of success. Perhaps this pass or fail system generates the most chances of success, but it erases the extra effort and motivation to get an A in the classroom.
This sudden stop was truly horrible. I cannot function at home; everyone here uses wi-fi so my internet connection is slow. When we have online lectures my teachers cut it off or it looks like an automatic setting.
For me, pass / no pass is the best transition to consider in these circumstances. I wouldn’t mind at all. Before sending us home, I actually told a few of my friends that higher education institutions should consider this method as students face distress about it.
It would be beneficial to me because, for the moment, I pass all my courses. I [have] heard by a handful of students that they also agree [that] if this scoring system passes, that would be better. I think it would be worth it for all the students.
For more reports like this click here to sign up for EdSource’s free daily email on the latest developments in education.