Evaluating Academic Progress
The Gutenberg College faculty recognizes grades as blunt instruments for evaluating a student’s achievement. What students learn in class is always complex and multifaceted. Sometimes a student will learn important skills or lessons having nothing to do with the content of the course. Nevertheless, the tutor must assess the student’s work with a grade for the quarter. Grades, however imperfect, are the universally recognized measure of a student’s progress and are necessary for students who wish to attend graduate or professional school or to transfer to another college.
- Letter grades (A, B, C, D, or F) will be awarded at the end of every quarter in each course, except for classes provided on a pass/no pass basis. The grading system is based on a 4.0 scale, and it may be qualified by a “+” or “–” worth 0.3 grade points. A minimum grade-point average of 2.3 is required for graduation.
- Any letter grade higher than an F+ is a passing grade.
- Grades will be given based on the coursework turned in by the end of the quarter unless extension arrangements have been made between the student and the tutor.
- If a student does not officially withdraw from a course on or before the withdrawal deadline listed on the Academic Calendar, then a grade will be given for the course based on the work done and not done.
- Academic grades appear on report cards and transcripts.
Dropped Courses. Withdrawals made by the first Friday of the quarter will not appear on your transcript. The last day to withdraw from classes is three weeks before the last day of the quarter. (See the Academic Calendar.) Students who want to withdraw from (drop) a class must petition for the change by completing a Class Change Request form and submitting it to the college office. If a student withdraws from a course before the “last day to withdraw from classes” on the Academic Calendar, his transcript will show a ‘W’. If a student withdraws less than three weeks before the last day of the quarter, a grade for the course will be given based on the work done and not done unless the student requests an incomplete grade by completing an Incomplete Grade Request Form.
Incompleted Courses. If a student foresees he will not be able to complete course work by the end of the quarter, he may request an incomplete grade (‘I’) by completing an Incomplete Grade Request form. If his request for an incomplete is granted, the student will have one calendar year from the end of the quarter in which the class was taken to complete the coursework and to receive a grade. If the student does not complete the class within one year, the ‘I’ will remain on his transcript permanently without the credits counting toward his GPA; but the student must retake the entire class. The repeated class will appear as a separate class on his transcript. If a course is completed within the year, there will be no additional tuition charged. If the course has to be retaken, the student must register for the class and a fee will be charged. (Incomplete Senior Thesis is an exception. See below.)
Incompleted Course: Senior Thesis. If a student foresees he will not be able to complete the Senior Thesis by the end of his senior year, he may request an incomplete grade (‘I’) by completing an Incomplete Grade Request form. Students who receive an incomplete on Senior Thesis have seven years from the date of the incomplete to finish their thesis. If the Senior Thesis is completed during that time, the incomplete is removed and replaced by a grade assigned by the thesis adviser. During that seven-year period, students do not have to re-register for Senior Thesis to receive a grade.
Repeated Courses. A student must pass all classes in order to graduate. If the student fails to pass a required course within one year from the end of the quarter in which the class was taken, or if an incomplete is permanently recorded on his transcript, the student must petition to retake the class. In cases where retaking the class is impractical, the student must complete an individual curriculum equivalent to the course work. The class tutor will review the petition and will either agree to re-enroll the student in the class or outline an individual curriculum to take the place of the class.
Limitations and effects on quarterly cumulative grade-point average will apply to repeated courses as follows:
(a) Courses Passed. Courses passed (with grades A to D) on the first attempt may be repeated only once. If a course is passed and repeated while not degree bound, or passed and repeated when degree bound, the higher grade received in the two attempts is used in the calculation of quarterly and cumulative grade-point averages. If a course is passed while a student is not degree bound, but repeated when he is degree bound, the grade received while degree bound is used in the calculation of quarterly and cumulative grade-point averages.
(b) Courses Failed. If a student is unable to pass a course, he may repeat it, regardless of matriculation status, until a passing grade (A to D) is earned. After the first non-failing grade is earned, a student has the option of repeating the course once to improve his grade. The higher grade earned after the course is repeated once is used in the calculation of quarterly and cumulative grade-point averages. (See the Student Handbook for examples.)
Attendance and Grades
Tutors may take unexcused absences and tardies into account in assigning grades as they see fit. However, a student may miss 10% of the class time each quarter without penalty. The Student Handbook contains a complete description of Gutenberg’s attendance policies.
In addition to the traditional academic grading system, students’ efforts in each class at Gutenberg College are assessed using diligence grades. In traditional academic grading, students are evaluated simply on their ability to meet the objectives of the course. This is fine within the narrow confines of a specialty. Some students have greater talent and a good background in the subject area, and the results come easily. Many students tend to gravitate towards what comes easily. However, in a liberal arts curriculum, which is much broader, it behooves students to work hard at their weaknesses. Often students progress the most when they work hard at their weaknesses. The addition of diligence grades gives a much more complete assessment of student progress in a liberal arts curriculum.
Students receive diligence grades (1–5) for each course. Letter grades are awarded on the traditional basis of academic scholarship; diligence grades are Gutenberg College’s way of assessing effort. The following scale is used:
- 1 (bad effort)
- 2 (mediocre effort)
- 3 (average effort—what we expect)
- 4 (good effort)
- 5 (excellent effort)
When assigning diligence grades, tutors will take into account a student’s class attendance, completion and quality of assignments, alertness and participation in class, affect on fellow students (for example, if the student inspires other students to work harder), and overall effort. Students who have above average ability and background in a subject area, who can perform at a high level, are not penalized. However, diligence grades provide an opportunity for those with less ability and background to be recognized for their effort to improve in the subject area. Diligence grades are posted on the quarterly report card, but they do not appear on the student’s transcript.
Gutenberg College believes that students who work hard should be rewarded and those students who are not as diligent should be encouraged to work harder. To those ends, Gutenberg uses diligence grades when calculating a student’s tuition and financial aid for the sophomore, junior, and senior years. (See “Diligence Incentive” in the Tuition and Fees and Financial Aid sections of Business Affairs.)
A student may challenge any grade within one year from the date the grade is posted on the student’s transcript by completing a Grade Challenge form and submitting it to the dean. The dean will examine the petition with the tutor who assigned the challenged grade and will communicate his decision to the student. The registrar will make any authorized changes in the student’s transcript and place a copy of the petition in the student’s academic file.
A student may ask to see his transcript, which is kept in the student’s file in the business office. If a student finds an error in the record, he should notify the college. A student may write a rebuttal (not to exceed 500 words) of any information in his file, and this statement will be included in the student’s file.
For the purpose of communicating student progress, Gutenberg College relies on what the faculty consider a better, more valuable form of evaluation than grades. Students meet individually with tutors for oral evaluations at the beginning of the winter and spring quarters of the first and second years. The tutors and student discuss the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and progress. A goal of these meetings is to help the tutors and the student arrive at specific suggestions for improving the student’s progress. During the last two years, meetings with tutors are arranged based on the needs of the student.
Progress Reports for Freshmen
Gutenberg College particularly wants to monitor the progress of first-year students. The Gutenberg curriculum is very full, and if a student begins to fall behind in the early months of his studies at Gutenberg, it can be very difficult to catch up. In an effort to identify as soon as possible which students are having difficulties, tutors will submit written progress reports for each first-year student in each course at the end of the third and sixth weeks of the fall and winter quarters.
Years One and Two. During the first two years, exams are given at the end of each quarter to measure a student’s progress. At the end of the spring quarter of the second year, a portion of the second-year qualifying exams (see below) focuses on the spring quarter’s material and thus serves as the basis for the spring-quarter grade. The purpose of the exams is to help the students evaluate their progress and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Years Three and Four. There is some basis for evaluation in every course for all four years. In the third and fourth years, however, German is the only course for which students take in-class exams. Progress in other courses is measured by term papers, term projects, or end-of-term assignments.
Gutenberg College reserves one week prior to the beginning of final exams for students to prepare for their exams and to finish their term projects. Tutors will not give any additional assignments to be due during this week. Friday discussions in Western Civilization and Great Conversation will continue during dead week.
Final exams are held Thursday and Friday of the last week of each quarter. German exams for Juniors and Seniors may be held earlier during exam week.
Second-Year Qualifying Exams
At the end of the second year, students must pass qualifying exams in order to advance to the final two years of the program. The exams, designed to determine the student’s mastery level of basic learning skills and necessary background material, cover the content of all their courses during the first two years.
During freshman orientation, students will be told what they can expect on the exams so that they can devise strategies to be preparing for the qualifying exams as they do their daily work.
At the beginning of each spring quarter, the dean will meet with the second-year students to discuss the qualifying exams, and he will schedule exams for each student.
All qualifying exams are graded pass/no pass. A student must pass three of the four qualifying exams before he can begin his third year. A student must pass all exams before he can graduate from Gutenberg.
Description of Qualifying Exams
- A written math exam tests students’ understanding of key concepts from the mathematics curriculum.
- An oral science exam focuses on the nature of science.
- A written-and-oral Greek exam consists of translating a selection and defending it before a panel of tutors.
- An oral Western Civilization exam gives students ample opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned; administered individually to students by a panel of tutors, the exam consists of a wide range of questions covering the whole scope of history.
The best measure of a student’s mastery of skills is his ability to use those skills. Therefore, in order to graduate from Gutenberg College, each student is required to write a senior thesis. The thesis is written under the guidance of a tutor and must be defended before a panel of tutors. To help students complete this project on time, a schedule of deadlines that students must meet is outlined in the Student Handbook. Copies of all senior theses are maintained in the college library.