Office of Academic Affairs provides answers to credit/no credit grading

Editor’s note: This story was done in a Q&A form to ensure the information is delivered with as much detail as possible. It is an ongoing story and will likely be updated as more information is provided.

People everywhere may be struggling to adapt to a world experiencing an ongoing global pandemic. Marshall University students are no different, and faculty and staff are working to bring the best options to their students during these constantly updating conditions.

The most recent change has been the option for students to take a credit/no credit grade in their classes. The Office of Academic Affairs has been working to answer several of the questions brought forth by students.

  • How will this plan work exactly?

Undergraduate students will be permitted to opt in to receive Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grades for most Spring 2020 undergraduate courses offerings based on the final grade awarded on May 4, 2020. Students must opt to receive CR/NC grading by 5 p.m. on April 24, 2020, and may do so on a course-by-course basis.

Students who opt to receive CR/NC grading for one or more courses must receive a final grade of A, B, or C in order to earn CR; students who receive a final grade of D or F will earn NC. Under this policy, all CR grades will count as credit toward graduation, while all NC grades will not count as credit toward graduation. CR/NC grades will not affect the term or cumulative GPA either positively or negatively.

An online request form will be made available on the Registrar’s website on Monday, April 13, 2020.

  • Do students still need to complete all work throughout the semester to receive the credit?

The CR/NC will be based on the final grade average in the course. Students should consult the instructor and the syllabus (including any pandemic-related revisions) in order to determine how final grades will be calculated.

  • Does/Will/ How will this affect seniors? 

Graduating seniors should be cautious in using this alternative grading option. In order to earn a bachelor’s degree, a minimum of 120 unique credit hours are required. With some exceptions, a D earned in a course will contribute credit hours toward graduation, while an NC will not. Graduating seniors should work closely with both the advisor and the Dean’s Office before choosing a CR/NC grading option for any course.

  • Why is D considered “No Credit” when it is passing in some majors? 

Current Policy: The Credit/No Credit option is part of a long-standing University policy that permits undergraduate students to select a maximum of 18 semester hours on a CR/NC basis (see pp. 95-96 of the 2019-20 Undergraduate Catalog). A student must earn a letter grade of C or better to receive a CR grade. Under the current CR/NC policy, students must make the decision on this grading option at the time of registration and cannot make further changes after Schedule Adjustment. Moreover, students are not permitted to use this option for courses in the major.

Pandemic-Related Policy (effective only for Spring 2020): The revised policy is designed to account for pandemic-related hardships that may make it difficult for students to devote the same degree of attention and rigor to courses now accessed through distance delivery. The relaxed policy allows students to opt in now through April 24, 2020, as well as to choose this grading option for courses in the major.

All students considering this option should consult with their advisors and instructors, especially if they expect a final grade of D. In some cases, taking the D will offer the most benefit (because credit hours will still be awarded, even with some negative impact on GPA). In other cases, opting for CR/NC grading will offer the most benefit (because the GPA will be protected from D or F grades, even if credit hours may be sacrificed).

  • What does this mean for classes that require, say a C, to go to the next level?

The revised CR/NC policy will have no effect on this pre-requisite requirement. Because a student must earn a final letter grade of C or better in order to receive a CR grade, a CR grade will allow a student to go to the next level. An NC grade would not.

  • How will this impact GPAs and merits related to GPAs, i.e. Scholarships, Dean’s List, President’s List, etc.? Especially GPA in the long run? 

Answer to come. Still being worked out.

  • How will this benefit the students in the long term?

Students whose grades have dropped down to B or C due to pandemic-related hardships will benefit. That’s the value of surrendering a letter grade of C for a CR. The C would bring down a cumulative GPA of 3.0. But the CR would leave the cumulative GPA of 3.0 untouched. But in either case—C or CR—the student would get the credit hours toward graduation. Students who are also concerned that they may not be able to perform well in classes after the shift to technology-assisted distance teaching may choose CR/NC grading in order to avoid catastrophic impact on the GPA. Finally, because the policy allows students to opt in on a course-by-course basis, students will be able to prioritize their efforts and perhaps focus more squarely on courses more important to the major.

  • Why does it only apply to undergraduate and not graduate students?

We are reviewing this option for our graduate programs. The Graduate College policy covering the CR option is different from the undergraduate policy, as graduate students must earn an A or B to receive the CR.

Each graduate degree program is developing a plan to help graduate students complete the semester. This review includes an assessment of accreditation standards, licensure requirements, and other factors that may affect the quality of the student’s degree. Each dean will send all graduate students a statement of the college’s policy.  Graduate students should work directly with their instructors and program directors to discuss appropriate accommodations in the face of pandemic-related hardships.

  • How have summer classes been impacted with COVID related decisions?

We have announced the all Intersession and Summer I courses will be offered either online or as hybrid courses with some synchronous online engagement. No courses that require face-to-face contact will be offered. Due to how rapidly the COVID19 situation is evolving, however, decisions about Summer II and Summer III course delivery have not yet been made.

Brittany Hively can be contacted at [email protected].