Many professors will never admit that their class is ‘easy.’ Many professors state in their syllabus the first week of class, “THERE IS NO EXTRA CREDIT IN THIS COURSE.” Yet somehow, one class in the same department comes out with grades that tower over all other sections.
Weeks before class registration opens up for UT students, the popular website RateMyProfessor is overwhelmed with searches by students trying to take the best, the easiest and the most laid back professors. Even I will admit to looking up Dr. Yang before signing up for her class, and I can only wish I would have looked up my calculus professor before I took it ... for the second time.
Most students look not at how well the professor teaches, but at how easy they grade or how easy their exams are. There is a simple fix to all of these problems: a department-wide grading system.
According to the grading policy at Princeton University approved in October of 2014, each department varies in how they grade sections, but within a single department, all sections are graded the same, given the same assignments and take similar exams.
My best friend from high school attends Princeton, and she says that she rarely needs to search professors before taking the class because she knows all classes will have the same structure. This eliminates the need for students to worry about having a professor that may take his or her course a little too in depth in comparison to other sections. This allows students to focus more on what they are learning rather than how it compares to what other sections are learning.
A few weeks ago, I went to office hours for a class to get clarification on a specific 100-level subject when my professor pulled up a 400-level course PowerPoint. I explained that I was not in that class. This man, excuse me, doctor, continued to tell me, “Oh no it’s fine. You all are learning this same material.”
“Ah perfect,” I thought, before going home and having a slight panic attack.
As much stress as all UT students are put under on the daily, we should not have to further worry about how taking one professor will destroy your GPA, ruin scholarships or just make you feel stupid in general.
This problem seems to be more severe in upper-level classes. Out of all of the courses offered here, only math and Spanish have a department-wide grading system. In order to change this, students have to take initiative by reaching out to the leadership at UT.
For example, contact the Dean of Students and department heads to mention how beneficial it would be to have departmental meetings to make sure that all professors are conducting their classes in alignment with other sections.
An increase in departmental meetings where professors in upper-level courses are given an outline of what assignments will be graded and how these assignments will be weighted in the grade book is something we as students need to push for.
Students could sign a petition to let the university know that it is actually something a lot of students are hoping for. After that easy first step, we could move on to directing our ideas to department heads to ensure that they follow through with these changes.
This way, all students would have the same amount of points available, no class would have drastically differing homework than another and we would not have classes in the same course that have a test every two weeks while another class secures their points with a simple clicker quiz. This would also help the university with filling classes quicker because students would not be gravitating to one professor after hearing it was an easy A.
Imagine a university that teaches all students the same way. We would have an army of intelligence walking out of our school. Instead, we have the kid who took English three times but passed chemistry because he took an easy professor.
Hopefully, if not for us, the departments will slowly turn towards a departmental grading system for the future generations that walk onto Rocky Top.
Katelyn McDaniel is a sophomore majoring in chemistry. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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