30 Jan Resitting Sufficient Grades

1. Introduction

Letteren Vooruit thinks it is of high importance that students can get the most out of their studies. To achieve this, aspects like the quality of education and the opportunities for extracurricular activities are crucial. Furthermore, it is important that a student gets good grades and that those grades reflect the potential and knowledge of the student. Exams are just snapshots, reflecting a particular point in time, and as a result they do not always reflect the full potential of the student. Many students have made complaints about the current policy regarding resits, and how this does not allow them to take a resit for a sufficient grade. Unsatisfactory results because of unpleasant personal circumstances cannot be made up for, and this can lower the average grade of a student.

To ensure that students can get the most out of their studies and can go to their further education or to the labour market with a good and representative average grade, Letteren Vooruit pleads for a new policy regarding resits, which enables students to take a resit for passes.

2. Analysis

At the moment, it is not possible to take a resit for a sufficient grade within the Faculty of Arts. Many students have told us that they would like to do this, and that the current policy regarding resits causes multiple problems. It is important for students to have a good average grade, in order to be accepted for further education or to increase their chances of a job. This is the main reason for the introduction of resits for sufficient grades. When a student is unable to prepare well for an exam, because of illness or other personal circumstances, a relatively low grade can lower their average. It is a shame that this student cannot get the grade he or she is able to get because of those circumstances, and that he or she does not get the opportunity to improve it. Moreover, it is peculiar that a students getting a 2 for the exam does get the chance to improve his or her grade, where a student getting a 5.5 does not get this chance.

As noted, the current policy causes unpleasant situations. Last year, a student complained that she had to take a resit for an oral exam, because she got the grade 5.4. When she went to the inspection moment, she saw that she had actually passed the exam with a 5.6. However, the teacher had given her a 5.4 because she was convinced that the student could have gotten a better grade. The student agreed, but preferred the 5.6 because she did not want to take the resit. Unfortunately, because the teacher had already given her the 5.4, she was forced to take a resit. This unpleasant situation was the result of the current policy. If it was possible to take a resit for a pass, the teacher would not have needed to give the 5.4 to allow the student to take a resit.
Another extraordinary situation that is the result of the current policy is that teachers are asking students whether they prefer a 5.4 or a 5.5. A 5.4 means that they can take a resit, where a 5.5 means that they pass the course immediately.

At other faculties of the RUG, it is possible to take a resit for a satisfactory grade, like at the Faculty of Law(1) and the Faculty of Economics and Business.(2) An objection that is often mentioned,is that resits for passes will increase the workload of the staff, because they will have to grade more exams. We have contacted a lecturer of the faculty of Economics and Business, who assured us that in reality this is not the case. Once a student takes a resit, he or she cannot graduate with a judicium cum laude anymore. Therefore, many students do not want to take a resit. However, to the students that do want to resit a pass, the introduction of this new policy is of high importance.

Finally, the ultimate goal of courses is to increase student’s knowledge. Students should master the subject taught, and students who have not studied well for their exam but that have gotten a satisfactory grade because of luck, do not master the subject. If they get a second chance in the form of a resit, they will study better for this exam, which will lead to better command of the subject. This is important for the student, but also for the programme.

3. Proposal

To improve the current situation, Letteren Vooruit proposes to introduce the possibility to take a resit for sufficient grades. This change focuses on students that have been unable to study well for the first exam because of certain circumstances, but who know that they can perform better. Taking a resit enables them to improve their knowledge of the subject and to get a better grade.

We propose that the resit taken by the students who have passed the grade is the same as the resit taken by the students that have gotten an unsatisfactory grade. In this way there is no extra pressure for teachers, since the resit needs to be made anyway.

It is important to specify the exams that can be taken in a resit. The possibility should only be there for written and oral exams, and not for papers and theses. These assignments are too big to include in this measure, since it will increase the workload of teachers. Besides, because of the size of those assignments, the chance that students have performed poorly because of circumstances will be smaller.

In addition, it is important to make clear to students that their first grade will be removed. If students choose to take a resit, they need to accept that the grade they are getting for the resit is the final grade, even if this grade is lower than the grade they got in the first place. This measure will prevent that students will ‘just’ take the resit, to see if they can do better. Only the students that are sure that they can perform better will participate in the resit.

Lastly, taking a resit always has the result that a student cannot graduate cum laude anymore. This will also ensure that less students take the resit if they have a pass.

(1) At the Faculty of Law, it is possible to assess a passed exam as ‘not taken’. By doing this, the student can take a resit. This means that the grade gotten for the resit is the final grade.A student can do this 2 times a year. This rule is covered in article 8.13 of part A of the Teaching and Examination Regulation.
(2) At the Faculty of Economics and Business, it is also possible to take a resit for a sufficient grade. Students who want to do this need to enroll themselves for the resit. The highest grade will be the final grade. This is covered by Article 12.5 of the Teaching and Examination Policy of the Faculty of Economics and Business.

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