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Grade changes now being made online

by Richard Veilleux - September 24, 2007

A new online system for processing changes in students’ grades reduces the amount of paperwork and eliminates the requirement for multiple signatures.

“The grade change system has been set up very nicely to be virtually seamless,” says David B. Miller, associate head of the psychology department.

“The instructor changes a grade and explains why … and copies instantly go off to the registrar, to whoever in each department has been designated as the point person for such copies, and the student. It’s fast, easy, and efficient.”

The final batch of grade changes from the spring arrived electronically at the registrar’s office last week. Sept. 17 was the deadline for students to make up exams or incompletes from the spring semester.

Jeffrey von Munkwitz-Smith, University registrar, says the old system sometimes took up to two months for a grade change to become final, because of the various approvals required.

“It would go from the faculty member to the department head, then to the dean, before it came to us to be processed. Sometimes faculty would just send them directly to us, so we’d have to go back through the proper channels. Sometimes they were misdirected at other points along the way.

“Generally, students are anxious to see the grades, so the old process was hard on them,” von Munkwitz-Smith adds.

“Sometimes the revised grade gives them enough credits to take part in an activity, or to apply for graduate school or a job, or to change their financial aid package. They’d call us and call their instructor for the grade. The old system sometimes resulted in multiple, time-consuming contacts with instructors and others regarding the status of the change.”

Now, he says, the student is included – via e-mail – every step of the way.

Since the system went online in mid-May, hundreds of grade changes have been processed – more than 600 came in during the first week.

That number increased to more than 1,500 by Sept. 13, a few days before the deadline, and several hundred more were expected after Sept. 17.

Grades – there were a total of 232,646 issued last year – are changed when students make up missed exams, complete work for which they had received an incomplete, computational or clerical errors are found, or overlooked components in a student’s body of work are discovered.

Student registration issues can also lead to a change.

David Gross, undergraduate coordinator in the Department of Mathematics and also the department’s Early College Experience coordinator, says the new system “must be a godsend to the deans and their designees.

” He notes that although individual faculty may not send many grade changes through, when taken together they would reach a critical mass before arriving in the registrar’s office.

As associate head of department, Miller has served as a dean’s designee.

“In the days when I had to approve grade changes on paper for psychology faculty, it was in the ballpark of 40 each semester,” he says.

That’s on top of the grade changes he would have to make as a faculty member for some of the hundreds of students he teaches.

Gross says the new system is also more accountable, because all involved immediately see the grade change and the reason.

The new system is based on PeopleSoft, but was adapted for use by UConn.

The reconfigured system was piloted in the spring, then tweaked to arrive at the version now in use.

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