The Dartmouth Observer

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com Listed on BlogShares

Monday, October 31, 2005
 
Folt's Reponse to Appleton

Thanks to Dartlog for this. Here's the response to Appleton.

>>Subject: Message from Dean Folt
>>To: Sergei A. Kan, Kathleen A. Corrigan, Edward M. Berger, John S. Winn, Jeremy B. Rutter, Prasad Jayanti, Dennis Washburn, Xiahong Feng, Jonathan S. Skinner, Laura-Ann Petitto, Eric W. Hansen, Peter W. Travis, Amy L. Lawrence, Mark J. Williams, Katharine Conley, Francis J. Magilligan, Bruce Duncan, M. Anne Saadah, P. David Lagomarsino, trs@gauss.dartmouth.edu (Thomas R. Shemanske), Theodore C. Levin, James H. Moor, thorsten@partita.dartmouth.edu (John R. Thorstensen), George L. Wolford II, Susan Ackerman, Lev L. Loseff, Misagh Parsa, Lenore A. Grenoble, Colleen M. Randall, Timothy P. Hackett, J. Martin Favor, Steven J. Ericson, Graziella Parati, Andrew J. Friedland, Annelise Orleck, Israel Reyes, Lindsay J. Whaley, Donald E. Pease Jr, Colin G. Calloway, Judith A. Byfield
>>
>>
>
>Dear Colleagues,
>
>I understand that a mass email titled, "The Decline of Academic Freedom at Dartmouth College" was sent to many members of the faculty last Thursday. While I do not know who received the email, I have heard about it from faculty in many departments. I am writing to you in your role as Chair to provide you with the correct information which you can discuss with your faculty if questions arise. The "Decline of Academic Freedom" email is filled with errors and unpleasant personal allusions, but rather than address all of them, I am going to focus on the errors that touch on fundamental issues for the faculty.
>
>The email concerned grading issues in Music 3 taught during the fall 2004 to 76 students (final enrollment). At the conclusion of the course, the Dean's Office received 42 student complaints -- an unprecedented number – from students who received grades from A- to D. As is standard procedure, the Associate Dean for the responsible division (in this case for Humanities) was in charge of the inquiry into complaints. The review was very thorough and took four months to complete. It included: interviews by the Assistant Dean with 28 complaining students who were on campus, review by the Associate Dean of grades on all assignments, review of course information distributed to students (including information about grading criteria) and a discussion between the Associate Dean and the Professor about grading practices. Our investigation concluded that unspecified extra credit had been given to students who came to speak with the instructor about the course and their compositions, regardless of whether they improved their work based on his feedback, and that students had never been told that they could raise their grades simply by meeting with the instructor.
>
>Under the circumstances, the Associate Dean and I both felt that some accommodation was necessary to ensure the student's right to understandable and fair grading. It was impractical to re-grade the musical compositions; it was weeks after the end of the term, students had dispersed and there were no faculty on campus available to undertake such a task. Instead, the students were given the option of receiving credit instead of a grade for the course. Please note that not a single student grade was raised and thus no GPA's were "inflated." However, because all students had passed the course, all students were given the option to receive credit for the course (this is like using Dartmouth's NRO option).
>
>I want to make it clear that an alleged concern that the grades were either too high or too low was never a consideration. Many other courses have mean and median grades similar to that of Music 3 in the fall of 2004.
>
>I also wish to emphasize that student complaints about grades are very rare at Dartmouth and only lead to administrative action in the most exceptional cases where there is clear evidence – after review by assistant and associate deans – of unfairness in the assignation of grades. I am aware of fewer than 5 grading complaints coming to the Dean's office about the more than 6000 courses taught by Arts & Science faculty in the last 4 years. However, if you or any of your faculty have questions about faculty independence in grading, please contact the Dean of Faculty or any of the Associate Deans.
>
>Finally, in the context of this case, a broad assertion has been made that Dartmouth has a lack of standards and is uninterested or even complicit in the perpetuation of grade inflation. This is simply not true. Dartmouth was one of the first institutions to address grade inflation when it began reporting the median grade on the transcripts. Last year, the Committee on Instruction began discussions about grading practices once again and they plan to examine this issue more closely in the coming year. I look forward to working with the faculty on this and trust we will explore this complex question with the careful reflection and consideration it deserves.
>
>Thank you.
>
>Carol