ASUC Senator Mihir Deo proposed a bill at last Wednesday’s senate meeting that would require professors to share more detailed information about grades with students before finalizing them.
The bill, SB 177, calls for professors to report exact percentages and breakdowns of grades to students before they submit grades to the Office of the Registrar. If the bill passes, Academic Affairs Vice President Natalie Gavello will submit a letter to the chair of the Academic Senate requesting that the chair implement this more detailed grade-reporting system.
Currently, after students take their final exams, professors calculate and send grades to the Office of the Registrar without having to show students how their grades were computed. However, Deo said that students need to know why they got a particular grade in order to improve their study habits and to decide whether to appeal their grades if they find them to be computed incorrectly or unfairly.
“It’s an inconvenience to most students, because in order to see why you got a grade, you have to petition against the grade that you got,” Deo said.
According to the bill, a survey Deo administered showed that more than 90 percent of students wanted professors to release a breakdown of their final grades through the online student portal bSpace or by other means. Of the students surveyed, 75 percent were also dissatisfied with the inaccessibility of professors for discussing grades and final exams after the end of the semester.
Eileen Tipoe, a UC Berkeley junior and teaching assistant in the department of economics, said she disagrees about the usefulness of an exact grade breakdown. Tipoe said, however, that professors should return final exams to students to allow them to learn from their mistakes.
“GSIs find participation hard to grade in the first place, and having students contest that makes it even harder,” Tipoe said. “I think students, from my perspective, usually when they get a bad grade or when they are surprised by a bad grade — it usually had more to do with how they did on the final.”
UC Berkeley freshman Hyunouk Ko felt said that more transparent grade breakdowns would not be much different from the current system.
“The only reason you would want to look at your final, at least for me, would be to change your grade, but especially for subjective exams, once the professor starts changing one person’s grade, the professor would have to look at all the other people’s grades to make it fair,” Ko said. “Chances are your grade won’t change anyway.”
In another effort to reform the grading system, UC Berkeley’s administration has considered adding information such as a student’s percentile rank in a class to transcripts.
The bill is scheduled to be voted on Monday in the senate external affairs committee.