VIDEO: Students share why they’re opposed to pass/fail grading

Campus Reform asked students to share why they are opposed to pass/fail grading systems.

Colleges and universities across the country are moving to pass/fail grading because of the coronavirus.

Colleges and universities across the country have moved to pass/fail grading systems because of the coronavirus. Campus Reform recently asked students to share why they’re opposed to the pass/fail system.

Many students explained that the grading system causes a “decrease in work ethic.” 

“It discourages effort,” Connecticut Campus Correspondent Isadore Johnson told Campus Reform. “People who are likely to work hard for the rest of the semester do not receive the grade. The people who are not likely to work hard for the rest of the semester get the same grade regardless of the effort they put in.”

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“Automatic pass/fail or even automatic A’s...undermines and cheapens the value of our education,” Virginia Campus Correspondent Addison Smith added. “It defeats the whole purpose of education.” 

“Students aren’t going to learn the material that they’re supposed to be learning...they’re not going to retain it, which ultimately will hurt people long-term,” North Carolina Campus Correspondent Meredith Watson said. Watson also said pass/fail grading also encouraged a “lazy work ethic” among professors. 

[RELATED: Harvard moves to ‘emergency’ grading during coronavirus pandemic]

“Not only does it create a lazy work ethic among students, but also professors,” she said. “I’ve heard of professors saying ‘oh I’m just going to take this chunk out of the syllabus and give you credit elsewhere.’”

Students also explained why they preferred a traditional letter grade system, and explained that they hoped others would consider a system that incentivizes student work while also allowing for students to raise individual concerns with their professors. 

“I say that the hard work that students put in should be rewarded in the form of allowing us to maintain a letter grade,” Arizona Campus Correspondent and Arizona State University (ASU) student Cameron Decker said. Decker added that he hopes other universities will follow the actions taken by ASU, which is currently allowing students to opt-in to pass/fail or keep letter grades. 

“I really urge other universities to do the same [as ASU]. I really urge other university students to advocate for the same measures at their own university--not a pass/fail grading system, but one that allows flexibility for students under hardship to work with their professors on an individual basis.”

[RELATED: Student newspaper editorial boards call for ‘lower standards’ during the coronavirus]

“Instead of a universal pass system, give students the discretion to determine who needs leniency rather than forcing it down everyone’s throats,” Johnson agreed. 

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