Seattle U Offers Revised Credit/Fail Grading Option to Students for Fall Quarter

With less than three weeks until finals begin, the Fall 2020 quarter is coming to a close in the midst of a hectic year. Seattle University students are currently turning in their last assignments in efforts to change their final scores. . 

When the COVID-19 pandemic began this spring, Seattle U offered an alternative grading system for those who were struggling in their courses. Seattle U instituted the credit/fail system, where any student who was enrolled in one of the applicable courses was able to change a class to a pass or fail on their transcript if they wanted.

As faculty and students have not seen a significant improvement in what is happening in the world around them, Seattle U decided to offer the credit/fail grading system again. However, it differs slightly from last spring. 

To decide whether or not this grading option applies to their courses, students must make a request to an advising representative, where they will have a meeting to discuss whether the option is available to them. 

According to Joyce Allen, head of the registrar’s office, this is so students can understand the consequences of changing a class to credit/fail.

“In addition to ensuring that students are informed of the full impact of choosing a CR grade instead of a letter grade, there are accreditation and prerequisite requirements that vary by program. We want to be sure that students are fully educated about the grade change and course list to which this does not apply before confirming the student indeed desires and the course is eligible for the change,” Allen said.

Seattle U decided that students would be required to discuss the grading option with an adviser, along with providing the reasons why they want to change the course to credit/fail. Whether this be a personal or family medical crisis, depression, a change in financial support, anxiety, addiction, food or shelter security issues, the office of the registrar is working to understand each situation in order to provide support and resources if necessary.

Third-year SPEX student, Chloe Deleissegues, opted to apply the credit/fail option to one of her courses this quarter. Without the ability to form in-person connections with her professors, Deleissegues feels more stress as she finds it difficult to better understand the material in an online format.

“I decided to do credit/fail because I didn’t feel that my grade was reflecting my actual effort and time spent in the course. I also did it because it has taken a lot of the stress away concerning my GPA and getting through the class,” Deleissegues said. “I am super stressed about finals, to be honest. I just feel that I am not fully understanding and grasping the material as well as I would with in-person classes.”

Seattle U made the decision to offer credit/fail grades after an Instructional Continuity Working Group considered the historical events occurring this year. While trying to navigate this unprecedented time, the group received input from other administrators and faculty members on campus. 

“A critical voice in this consideration was the advising network, who was fully in support of continuing the practice,” Allen said. “They helped shape the refinement of our practices this term.”

Although this grading option is helpful for some students, not all will be able to qualify for it, and some don’t think they will need to request the credit/fail option. 

While sometimes feeling unmotivated by the idea of remote learning, second-year nursing student Jessica Bui decided to stick to the normal system of grading at Seattle U. 

“Online classes are a good idea because of the situation we’re in right now, but at this point in the quarter I’m so unmotivated,” Bui said. “I’m happy with the grade I have and it’ll bring up my GPA.”

Although Seattle U made the decision to revise the credit/fail system for the fall, there has been no formal decision made for winter quarter. Allen will be part of the committee to review this decision and likely implement some form of alternative grading. 

“We want to look at whether or not we can take a quickly constructed middle ground practice and refine and revise it so we can institutionalize an option like this permanently,” Allen said.  “We recognize that this pandemic and the social unrest we are experiencing globally is not new and for some, there will always be a need for some middle ground.” 

Students can decide to request this grade change and meet with an advisor in the upcoming weeks. Advisors must complete and submit a form notifying the Officer of the Registrar between Dec. 9 and Feb 1.