Context needed

The Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) should be applauded for their proactive efforts to have class averages or medians included on transcripts.

The 2012-13 Arts and Science grades report — which was released in April — found major discrepancies in grades between academic departments.

This discrepancy needs to be addressed in a thorough review the grading practices of all Arts and Science departments. Until then, the inclusion of class medians on transcripts is a much-needed step.

Averages and medians contextualize a student’s grades. They provide a holistic explanation of where a student stands within their program, and where their department fits within the faculty as a whole.

Grades can’t be divorced from context; otherwise, they’re floating in the air without anything to ground them.

With this context included on transcripts, students who feel inclined to drop their major or minor in pursuit of a competitive graduate program might feel more comfortable continuing in a degree program they feel passionate about.

The University should allocate funds to a computerized system where median grades can be transferred from SOLUS to transcripts. Significant grade discrepancies can sabotage students from gaining admittance into certain graduate programs and internships, which should be a subject of concern for Queen’s.

It’s critical that medians be included on transcripts rather than mean grades. Medians give a better picture of the general tendency of the class, while mean calculations can be skewed by a few major divergences.

The Senate has the final say in this matter, rather than the Faculty or the Dean of Arts and Science. ASUS must focus on lobbying the Senate in order for the inclusion of medians on transcripts to be actualized.

While Arts and Science departments lend themselves to subjective marking, the grading discrepancy is an issue that affects all Queen’s faculties. Other societies — beyond ASUS — need to be engaged in the push for the inclusion of medians.

Until then, the 2012-13 grades report needs to be better advertised, so that graduating students know they have the option to attach it alongside their transcripts in applications.

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