As an experiment this semester, the faculty grade deadline for fall semester final grades has been moved back from 10 p.m. Dec. 24 to noon Dec. 30. Final grade deadlines have been a point of contention for faculty and administration for years due to the need to have grades submitted in a timely manner while allowing sufficient time for the grading process.
Peter Rothbart, professor of music theory, history and composition, and faculty council chair, said the extended deadline can only become a permanent change if faculty get their grades in on time.
“If all faculty cooperate, that gives us more time to do final grades, which means we can be more thorough,” Rothbart said. “We can be more conscientious and thorough in our grading. A longer deadline allows us to be better professors.”
Since Spring 2009, final grades have been due three business days after the last finals take place. Prior to this, the deadline was Jan. 2 for final grades submissions.
The purpose of the 72-hour deadline was to accommodate students who needed to be notified of their final grades as soon as possible should this affect their graduation, according to the minutes of the November 2008 Faculty Council meeting.
Cyndy Scheibe, a professor in the Department of Psychology, said in January she began looking into how to get the deadline changed back to a later date. Scheibe, who has been working at the college for 28 years, said after five years with the policy, she decided to attempt to eradicate it after frustrations with last year’s deadline falling on the day after Christmas.
“I graded all day on Christmas Eve, I graded on Christmas and then I came into the office and graded all day the day after Christmas,” Scheibe said.
Scheibe, who has almost 200 students, said even with the time she spent grading, she still entered in eight of her students’ final grades late.
Registrar Brian Scholten said the 72-hour deadline, though enacted in 2009, was debated as early as 2006.
The Faculty Council voted down the proposal in 2006, citing how the change from the Jan. 2 deadline wouldn’t give faculty enough time to grade larger projects, according to the December 2006 Faculty Council newsletter.
Faculty Council members raised several concerns with the 72-hour deadline, such as the likelihood of faculty converting to easy-to-grade exams rather than relying on longer papers and projects to determine final grades, according to the newsletter.
Then-Interim Provost Jim Malek resolved the conflicting decisions and chose the 72-hour deadline, according to the meeting minutes from 2006.
Scheibe said this year’s Dec. 30 deadline is a good compromise between the 72-hour deadline and the original Jan. 2 deadline.
With the grade deadline being pushed back, Scholten said students will not be able to see their final grades until after the deadline. All grades have to be “rolled,” or officially recorded, by the dean’s office after the faculty submits their students’ grades. Scholten said students will be the ones most affected by the lengthened grade deadline.
“In my opinion, the one definite drawback is that students must wait longer to see their final grades for the semester,” Scholten said.
Scheibe said she understands students want to see their grades as soon as possible, but she thought the 72-hour deadline was too burdensome.
“I set out last year to change the deadline because I knew there was a more humane option,” Scheibe said.
Sophomore Luke Waldner said he didn’t believe the grade deadline extension would be of much consequence.
“I do not care at all, I’ll be on break where I won’t really be thinking about classes or grades much anyways,” Waldner said. “Having to wait an extra three days to see my final grades also isn’t that long to wait in my opinion.”
While the 72-hour deadline is being postponed for the first semester, it will remain in place for second semester due to the date of the college’s Commencement ceremony on May 17. Scheibe said she is less concerned with the 72-hour deadline in May because it is during a less-busy time of year.
“May doesn’t have the same complications with travel and family and the holidays,” Scheibe said.
Scholten said the deadline could allow for faculty to have a less stressful time during the holidays.
“The additional time could free faculty members from having to contend with the conflict of the holidays and grading vying for their time and energy,” Scholten said.