Transitioning Courses to Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory: A Faculty Panel and Discussion - Shared screen with speaker view
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
For those who join a few minutes after 3:00, please note the session is being recorded.
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
If one looks at student survey data from spring 2020, the institutional shift to S/U had unequal impacts on students. On one end, many students were relieved. On the other end, some students were stressed by the novel decision, do I take the optional letter grade or stay S/U?
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Rann, you have used the term "math traumas" in the past.
Joan Clifford, Ph.D.
Have there been any negative consequences for shifting some of the courses to S/U for students applying to graduate/professional schools? This seemed to be of high concern for some students.
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Right Joan. Those who reported higher levels of stress with the S/U decision in spring tended to be those looking at Medical or, to a lesser extent, Law School.
Rann Baron
Yes! So many of my students exhibit what appears to me to genuine trauma from their past math experiences. There is research out there showing that Black students and women often experience pretty awful stuff in math classes, especially from their time in middle school onward.
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Motivation is a tricky concept, with messy associations with the S/U. Some say S/U helped them relax into the learning experience. Others say they needed the traditional grade-basis to stimulate work and engagement.
Stacy Tantum, Ph.D.
Is it helpful to simultaneously shift to some version of criterion-based grading or specifications grading so students can't squeak by with an "S" by half-hearted efforts on _everything_?
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Yes, Stacy. The Math program has thought carefully about that. Rann may speak to it now.
Michael Munger, Ph.D.
Everyone may already know this. But Law Schools have announced that they have asked members NOT to hold Pass/Fail courses against applicants. I think they will do it again the coming year. https://dailynorthwestern.com/2020/04/20/campus/lsac-law-schools-wont-penalize-applicants-with-pass-fail-grades-on-transcripts/
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
I'll attempt to summarize what I remember of the Math 105L model: to get the S, students must pass every learning task (and there are many of them), but they get substantial time to practice, revise, resubmit those learning tasks.
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Regarding Mike's comment about Law School Admissions, is this information getting out to Duke students looking at Law School? (Alyssa?)
Stacy Tantum, Ph.D.
That's a 4-to-1 student-instructor ratio... my experience is 1 TA per 15-20 students in the course (and no TAs if course enrollment is below a threshold around 15). What is a "typical" student-TA ratio across the university?
Alyssa K Perz, Ph.D.
Gerald Wilson co-authors the pre-law book, so I suspect he’s conveying that to pre-law students. If only the Association of American Medical Colleges would embrace a uniform policy like this!
Rann Baron
I do want to note that (almost) all TAs in 105L are undergrads, which is a large work pool.
Valerie Konczal
If the amount of work required of students in math increases substantially, what does this mean for the time students have to spend on their other classes?
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
@Val, it's a big load, but hopefully with longer term benefits for math learning AND persistence in math and math-adjacent disciplines...?
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
And historically, we advisors have cautioned studens about certain "dangerous" combinations of classes in year 1. Maybe we add this awareness of the workload -- albeit productive -- to our future advising conversations...?
Valerie Konczal
I understand the positive outcomes, but wonder whether the possible, negative outcomes were considered, as well.
Rann Baron
@Valerie: I think students have always spent a lot of time on math. For 105L, the worksheets are mostly done in class, so the increase isn't as large as it seems.
Stacy Tantum, Ph.D.
To what extent do you think peer review/response plays a role? Does motivation to put forward something they are proud (or at least not embarrassed) to show their peers substitute for motivation to get a good grade?
Valerie Konczal
It helps to have a better perspective of actual, additional workload. Thanks, Rann.
Rann Baron
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Maybe the pace of the workload was more regular? As opposed to cramming?
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Perhaps an unspoken question also: What has been the workload for the course instructors?
Rann Baron
Yes. I think that having the same routine each week was helpful to students.
Rann Baron
It was a lot for 105L. About an hour of grading per student per week.
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
It's almost as if scaffolded development of authentic work reduces the opportunity for and likelihood of academic dishonesty.
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Peer learning = community building within the course ??
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Students are nothing if not strategic
Owen Astrachan
How many students that start in Math 105 or 111 go onto be math majors?
Jennifer Hill, Ed.D.
Just a reminder, I will stay online for conversation 4:00 - 4:30. Please feel free to depart if you need, but you're also welcome to hang out longer.
Marcia Rego, Ph.D.
Thank you for this! I need to leave at 4:00.
Owen Astrachan
Take-away: surprised at how well-held the belief is that motivation comes from grades
Cary Moskovitz
I’m thinking about requiring passing grade on all major assignments to pass course. Thanks!
Rann Baron
I'm happy to hang out until my three year old gets home.
Melissa Simmermeyer
I was intrigued by the notion that S is not just hitting a certain average, knowing that you can require mastery as shown in certain assignments was great
Stacy Tantum, Ph.D.
Take-away: The notion of requiring mastery of every learning outcome rather than an average of mastery across learning outcomes.
Dr Eliana Schonberg, Ph.D.
@Jennifer—escaping this dance with students would require larger structural rethinking at the K-12 level as well, or at least a university-wide reconsideration.
Rann Baron
@Eliana: I agree. There is structural change needed, at the very least at the university level. At least one Tier 1 university (MIT, I believe) has their entire first year S/U.
Dr Eliana Schonberg, Ph.D.
@Rann—exactly, and I think it’s a conversation well worth having.
Dr Eliana Schonberg, Ph.D.
I’m right there with you, Rann!
Stacy Tantum, Ph.D.
GPA can be screened easily screened by AI... portfolios of work are not so easily screened en masse.
Dr Eliana Schonberg, Ph.D.
Thank you all for a great discussion!
Rann Baron
Thanks everyone!