Guide Making the Grade: How Boards Can Ensure Academic Quality (Second Edition)

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Marking, not ability, was determined to be the reason. In a presentation by Greg Mayer on Grade Inflation at the University of Waterloo reported that grade inflation was occurring there. The study initially stated that there was "no consensus on how Grade Inflation is defined I will define GI as an increase in grades in one or more academic departments over time". A possible source of grade inflation may have been pressure from administrators to raise grades.

A case was documented in which a math dean adjusted grades without the consent or authorization of the instructor. Annual grade inflation has been a continuing feature of the UK public examination system for several decades. In April Glenys Stacey, the chief executive of Ofqual, the UK public examinations regulator, acknowledged its presence and announced a series of measures to restrict further grade devaluation. The articles are based on a paper by Jeremy Hodgen, of King's College London , who compared the results of 3, fourteen-year-olds sitting a mathematics paper containing questions identical to one set in He found similar overall levels of attainment between the two cohorts.

With the replacement of the previous exams with the GCSE and a move from a normative to a criterion referencing grade system, reliant on examiner judgement, the percentage obtaining at least a grade C , in mathematics, has risen to An analysis of the GCSE awards to pupils achieving the average YELLIS ability test score of 45, between —, identified a general increase in awards over the 10 years, ranging from 0. It has also been suggested that the incorporation of GCSE awards into school league tables, and the setting of School level targets, at above national average levels of attainment, may be a driver of GCSE grade inflation.

A number of reports have also suggested the licensing of competing commercial entities to award GCSEs may be contributing to the increasing pass rates, with schools that aggressively switch providers appearing to obtain an advantage in exam pass rates. The five exam boards that certify examinations have little incentive to uphold higher standards than their competitors - although an independent regulator, Ofqual is in place to guard against lowering standards.

Nevertheless, there remains strong incentives for "gaming" and "teaching to the test".

In response to allegations of grade inflation, a number of schools have switched to other exams, such as the International GCSE, or the International Baccalaureate middle years programme. Note :. The validity of this system was questioned in the early s because, rather than reflecting a standard, norm referencing might have simply maintained a specific proportion of candidates at each grade.

In small cohorts this could lead to grades which only indicated a candidate's relative performance against others sitting that particular paper, and so not be comparable between cohorts e. In the Secondary Examinations Council decided to replace the norm referencing with criteria referencing, wherein grades would be awarded on "examiner judgement".

From until the achievement levels have risen by about an average of 2 grades in each subject.

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Exceptionally, from the rise appears to be about 3. An educationalist at Buckingham University thinks grades inflate when examiners check scripts that lie on boundaries between grades. The Higher Education Statistics Agency gathers and publishes annual statistics relating to the higher qualifications awarded in the UK.

The Students and Qualifiers data sets indicate that the percentage of "GOOD" first degree classifications have increased annually since Between and , the proportion of upper second class honours awarded for first degree courses increased from S is equivalent to grade C or better.

A degree candidate who fails any required semester course in a current major or minor must repeat and pass that course at Georgetown before graduation. Students cannot repeat for credit a course in which they earned a grade of D or better. Only those courses that count for the degree will be listed on the transcript.

This applies to Georgetown study abroad programs and to independent study programs. Students may wish to audit a course for which they will not receive credit or a grade.


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Persons who audit a course pay the standard per credit hour tuition. Refer to the Expenses and Finances section of this bulletin for the per credit hour tuition amount. Language courses at the expository writing level and below and Consortium courses may not be audited. Students in the College are not permitted to audit courses. Advisory grades are made available by the Registrar through MyAccess after mid-term examinations in the fall semester. These grades are not part of the permanent academic record of the student; they are designed to help students evaluate academic achievement.

Students with any deficiencies should confer with the appropriate professor. Students are expected to complete all work in a course by the deadline s determined by the instructor, and no later than the end of the final exam period.

Making the Grade: How Boards Can Ensure Academic Quality (Second Edition)

Please note that N grades will only be granted in cases where the student is deemed to be in good standing in the course by the instructor i. Students on academic probation are not eligible for incompletes. If the student has not completed the outstanding work by the new deadline s , faculty will be required to submit a letter grade A through F on the basis of all work completed previously.

The Registrar will make semester grades available through MyAccess at the end of the examination period each semester. The University will not issue a transcript that reflects less than the complete student record. It is important to inform the Registrar, through MyAccess, of any change of address so that University communications can be properly addressed. When a professor determines a grade change is justified e. As a matter of equity, professors cannot change final grades on the basis of additional work from an individual student after grades have been submitted.

This includes but is not limited to revision of papers, retakes of tests, or submission of supplemental work. Professors who are asked to reassess work by individual students should be prepared to reassess work of all other students in the class. A final grade may not be changed on the basis of documentation received after the grade has been posted. Students are expected to provide documentation of absences, etc.

One of the key issues in higher education towards the end of the 20 th century was the debate about the respective virtues and requirements of traditional academic education and vocational education. Much of the debate took place within universities, particularly in the new context of the knowledge society. Many professions once wholly practiced by persons not holding a university degree saw increased demands for university training. One consequence was the introduction of more professional courses into the university system in some countries, and a greater emphasis on the utility value of university courses in those countries with a binary system.

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In many EU countries university academics have had to reconcile educational dimensions and professional requirements and manage the tensions that have emerged in trying to achieve this. A second issue arose from new attitudes to personal rights partly resulting from EU legislation around human rights, freedom of information, data protection and so on.

In the new spirit of openness students became much more conscious of what was offered, what was excluded, and what their rights were. This student awareness also brought the awareness that the possession of a university degree does not automatically confer employment — certainly not for life - in a rapidly changing Europe. In some countries employers, too, began to make greater demands on universities to describe better what students can actually do on graduation, not just what they know.

One response to these changes was to try and make transparent the relationship between university education and core or transferable skills. Two major schools of thought have emerged which can be broadly divided into those approaches which emphasise higher education as a public good, versus those which also lay emphasis on the vocational utility of higher education. Tensions between vocational and public good approaches are to be found not only in Europe , but in the United States.

The Tuning project does not seek to resolve this debate but, nevertheless, wishes to indicate its awareness of it. A description of the long and complex development of changes in university education across Europe , particularly on the issues that have influenced curricular change, is beyond the scope of this chapter. Europe requires its people to be culturally and intellectually equipped in ways appropriate both for their present and for their future. Only thus will they be able to lead meaningful and satisfying lives, personally and collectively. Institutions of higher education have a key role in developing appropriate strategies.

It is the responsibility of higher education institutions to prepare their students, in a life long learning perspective, for a productive career and for citizenship.

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Universities and other higher education institutions increasingly have come to realise that theirs is a moving target, and that their leadership in the field of the elaboration and transmission of knowledge and understanding implies a new sensitivity towards developments in society.

They increasingly look to consultation with their stakeholders on a regular basis. Education inspires progress in society, but at the same time it must respond, with foresight, to society, preparing adequate strategies for future programmes of studies.

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The Tuning project's approach to setting up degree programmes and ensuring quality in their design and implementation combines both aspects. In phase I of the Tuning project the emphasis was on the process of consultation with 'actors' or 'stakeholders', the definition of academic and professional profiles and the translation of these into desired learning outcomes.

Tuning identified indicative generic competences or transferable skills and described the then commonly used subject-specific competences in terms of knowledge, skills and understanding for nine subject areas. Tuning II has turned to the next step looking at how to implement competences, defined on the bases of identified requirements of society and foreseen social developments besides scientific developments in the subject area concerned, in terms of approaches to teaching, learning, and assessment.

The Tuning approach. In the Tuning project the decision was taken to make a distinction between generic competences transferable skills and subject-related ones, although it is accepted that key outcomes of university programmes will be subject related competences.

Tuning I showed that an indicative sample of employers, graduates and academic staff were in broad agreement about which generic competences, from a range offered in a questionnaire survey, are the more relevant ones, although they differed slightly with respect to the order of importance of some of them. The importance of these generic competences is now widely understood, but understanding of the concept alone is insufficient.

The true importance lies in the implications a competence-based approach has for teaching and learning. In other words, which appropriate modes of teaching, which learning activities might best foster competences in terms of knowledge, understanding and skills; and how do we assess these competences. One of the problems the Tuning members encountered in discussing approaches to teaching, learning and assessment on a European-wide scale was that every country, and even institution, has its own peculiarities and features deeply grounded in its national and regional culture.

Each has its own written and unwritten rules about how to prepare students best for society. On commencement of a mapping exercise on the approaches currently in use or planned in different national systems or individual universities, it became clear that each has developed its own mix of techniques and kinds of learning environments, all of which are well founded, but which need to be mutually understood.

It may be the case that the same name is given to different methods e.

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Tuning has seen it as one of its tasks to create more clarity with regard to the issue of definitions and their understanding in practice. A comprehensive list of terms and their translations into to all European languages is being developed and this glossary will be published on the Tuning website at the end of A wide range of teaching techniques is used in universities. The set of teaching techniques strongly depends on the instructional form of education face to face education, education by correspondence or distance education.

Apart from the ubiquitous lecture, the consultation revealed the following list which is far from exhaustive. Such lists are indicative only, and are really a list of categories of teaching activity, since how each is undertaken may vary widely not only between academics but within the everyday practice of any one academic, depending on the focus of the teaching and the intended learning outcomes for the students.

The lecture itself can vary immensely in format and function. At another extreme, the students will have read the notes before the lecture on the intranet, and will participate in a presentation that fleshes out the notes supplemented by interesting examples provided by both lecturer and possibly also by students from their reading. The scope or function can also be quite different. A lecture introducing a new topic may provide an overview so that students can quickly become aware of who are the key players in this aspect of a field, how it has developed, and where current concerns are focussed.

But not all lectures deal with broad scopes: one might, for example, use a lecture to fully explicate some key but complex concept, engaging students in some small group or individual problems at different points. Thus it is with all of the teaching techniques. The mere label is handy, but it does not tell exactly what the lecturer does.

One way of gaining some insights into the teaching techniques used is to look at what learning activities students are also required to do in a programme or part of a programme of study. As with teaching, learning activities called by the same name can differ quite widely. Apart from attending lectures participating in lectures or reading books and journals, the following inevitably partial list of commonly used learning activities gives some idea of the richness that is possible in aligned teaching and learning.

To complete the cycle of learning one must also look at how students' achievement of learning outcomes is assessed. Assessment is not just the rounding off of the teaching and learning period but to a large extent a central steering element in those processes, and directly linked to learning outcomes.