Faculty Senate recommends students get to choose between credit/no credit or letter grades


The Wichita State Faculty Senate held a Zoom meeting on Monday, April 13.

The Wichita State Faculty Senate is recommending that students get the option to choose between receiving a letter grade or credit/no credit on a class-by-class basis this semester.

If the measure is approved by Provost Rick Muma, students will be able to select their preferred grading criteria after instructors enter final grades.

C- and above could be converted to credit while D+ and below could be converted to no credit. Select accredited programs that are not compatible with a credit/no credit grading criteria would be excluded.

WSU Registrar Gina Crabtree said her hope is to develop an app with a portal that students can log into to view their final spring grades, which instructors would enter as normal.

“On a per-class basis, they can identify, ‘Yes, I want this letter grade to be changed to a credit or a no credit’ depending on the situation,” Crabtree said at Monday’s senate meeting, which was held via Zoom.

As helpful as a simplified grading criteria might be for preserving GPAs, it could also have its drawbacks for some students.

“There are a lot of special circumstances like student VISAs, scholarships, athletic participation — all kinds of things that might be affected by a student changing to a credit/no credit,” Philosophy Sen. Susan Castro said.

Crabtree said the prospective app would inform students of potential impacts before making their selections final.

“We would have some sort of confirmation box that [students] would check with a statement that says, ‘I understand this could have impact on’ — and would list some things or maybe have a link to a webpage that had some FAQs about potential impacts,” Crabtree said. 

She said each college’s lead advisor would help identify the scope of what students should consider before switching grading criteria. If the measure is approved, students will be encouraged to talk to their advisors and other representatives early instead of waiting for the end of the term.

“There are real reasons why students should not do this,” Faculty Senate President Jarman said after the meeting. “Some are in accredited programs, some are applying to grad schools where their GPA matters, and the goal is to give students as much time as possible to talk to advisors and others so they can make informed decisions.”

WSU has already announced that all summer classes will also be taught remotely. Crabtree said she doesn’t expect the university to extend an accomodating grading offering beyond the spring semester, given that students knew before enrolling that there would be no in-person classes.

“With it not happening in the middle of a term, we might say, ‘No, we’ve given everybody time to kind of get things figured out’ and we wouldn’t do it again, but I guess, again, that would be up to us as an institution,” Crabtree said.

The senate ultimately approved the proposal by a vote of 38-4. Before the vote was cast, Jarman offered his support, calling on senators to bear in mind how COVID-19 and WSU’s switch to remote learning have impacted the student experience.

“I think we’re all dealing with this being a little bit different, and the idea that somehow we might vote ‘no’ on this because we can’t with certainty say what a student may have learned in a semester — we know they learned some different things this semester than in other semesters,” Jarman said.