April

Professors’ failure to use online gradebook hurts students

Feb 5 • April Shernisky, Opinion • 404

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My freshman year I roomed with a PA major and, as you can probably guess, we had wildly different experiences. Our classes rarely overlapped, hers being arguably more rigorous. And I didn’t envy her the three-hour labs or 60-page reading assignments.

I did, however, discover a distinct advantage afforded to health science majors.

Like clockwork, her professors would enter grades into Angel, Gannon University’s course management system.

Just six hours after taking an exam, she sat on her bed furiously refreshing Angel’s gradebook page.

I didn’t know Angel even had a gradebook until my second semester.

“Do all your professors do that?” I asked. “Enter your grades that quickly?”

She nodded in the affirmative. Upon discovering that most of mine didn’t keep track of grades online, her face showed confusion.

“But how do you know how the hell you’re doing?” she asked.

I didn’t. I still don’t.

It’s been my experience that professors in CHESS – the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences – don’t put a lot of material on Angel, if they use it at all. In fact, throughout my 2 1/2 years here, only about half of my professors used Angel. Of those who did, a handful entered grades.

If I wanted to know where I stood, I had to gather up my tests and homework assignments and find my average. That’s simple enough.

But most classes’ scales are broken into percentages. A single project can be worth 25 percent of your grade, exams worth 30 percent, attendance 10 percent and so on.

Maybe humanities professors – just like humanities majors – are simply reluctant to do the math. I understand that all too well. I barely made it through high school trigonometry with my sanity intact.

The difference is that professors, unlike students, eventually have to calculate grades anyway, first at midterm then after finals. Why not do it bit by bit as the semester progresses rather than wait to do it all at the last minute? Isn’t that what professors always preach? Besides, if you can use Angel to upload assignments, you can use it to help students keep track of their grades.

Speaking as a student, I’m better off knowing exactly what my grade is at any given point in the semester. If my grades are easily accessible, I’m more likely to check them. The more often I check them, the more likely I am to notice poor performances and aim for improvement.

I can’t really fault professors for not wanting to deal with Angel, though. It’s a clunky, visually unappealing program. The login screen alone is filled with unnecessary text.

“Hazardous Waste Management,” “Roster Synchronization Tutorial,” “GU Poster Template for Inkscape” – what is this nonsense? Where do these links lead? Does anyone use them? The rest of the system is equally cumbersome.

Regardless, it would be in students’ best interest for CHESS professors to take a cue from those at Morosky. When it comes time to input grades at the end of the year, the professors will be happy too.

 

APRIL SHERNISKY

shernisk003@knights.gannon.edu

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