Effects of plus/minus negligible
Ever since its inception this year, the plus-minus grading system has not affected Bowdoin's overall grade distribution in the least. It has neither decreased the overall average nor inflated the student body's GPA.
Ms. Christine Cote, Registrar of Student Records, said that the "most recent grade reports for the fall semester of 2002 were very close to what it typically was compared to last year." She also found the general distribution of As to remain unchanged since last year: "my recollection for the entire year about 40-42 percent of grades are As, which is the same as last year." In fact there were almost as many As this past semester, with a total of 2619, as there were Bs in 2797. Comparatively, there were far fewer Cs, 687, and few Ds and Fs.
Still the question remains as to whether the change in grade reporting was in fact a good or bad thing. Evidently, according to student records, it has not made a difference to the student body's overall GPA, but there still remain a few outspoken voices against the change.
Jaica Kinsmen '99, one of the many voices originally vehemently opposed to the change still remains firm as she said, "the new system places too much emphasis on grades while neglecting the basic tenets of the teaching and learning experiences." She and many others found the change favorable to those students in departments such as Government and Biology, who depend on the plus or minus to grant them the necessary edge in competing for future graduate school opportunities. "For a student needing to apply to Law and Medical Schools the change suits them, but for students in other classes such as Art and Music the implementation of subtle differences in grading becomes difficult and lacks the same sort of meaning."
In an academic environment already subject to competition and pressure, the student with learning disabilities also struggles. Jaica, also speaking for student's with learning disabilities finds the change geared toward the traditional student, and not one with special needs. "A quality of learning should be pushed with teachers who make an effort in setting a classroom to accommodate multiple learning styles and intelligences."
Overall feedback, though, has proven a growing indifference to the change as more and more students voice their objective stance to the issue. "If a student has come to Bowdoin to learn for the sake of learning, the issue should come as a welcome change, for what better mechanism to gauge one's own learning style than an accurate system of grade reporting which includes pluses and minuses," a student who wishes to remain anonymous said yesterday.