University of Manitoba students propose ‘compassionate grading’ amid pandemic

Some students at the University of Manitoba want a more compassionate grading system while they grapple with the complexities of online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.



a large building in the middle of a road: Some U of M students want to see 'compassionate grading' amid the pandemic.


© University of Manitoba
Some U of M students want to see ‘compassionate grading’ amid the pandemic.

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union and the Student Senate Caucus have backed a proposal that would see students given the option to choose either a “pass” or a “fail” on a single course during the fall 2020 and winter 2021 terms — similar to what was imposed when the university abruptly shut down last winter.

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“What happened in the winter of 2020 was students were able to select one of three options — keep your grade, exclude it from the GPA or take it as a pass or fail, and that was available for all their classes,” said Kristin Smith, UMSU’s vice president of advocacy.

“Online learning in the fall simply hasn’t improved enough from when COVID first hit us in the winter.”

The proposal went to the university’s COVID-19 steering committee Thursday, a communications staffer said in an email.

Meanwhile, Brandon University introduced a compassionate grading system this week.

“A student who obtains a satisfactory standing grade on a course can convert that letter grade into a ‘P’, or a pass, so they get credit on the course but it doesn’t count in their (grade point average), then a student who didn’t receive satisfactory standing on the course, doesn’t just get an F that counts against their GPA, they actually get no credit for the course,” said Andrea McDaniel, BU’s registrar.

“It’s very much like they withdrew from the course without an academic penalty.”

Communicating with the public during a pandemic

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