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BFC considers GPA policy changes, new general education requirement



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Council President Moira Marsh speaks during the Bloomington Faculty Council meeting Oct. 23 in the Radio-Television Building. The council is made up of elected faculty members that oversee IU.  Kate Pasmore Buy Photos

A change in IU’s grade policy, an opportunity for students to wipe their GPA clean and an addition to the general education requirements were discussed at Tuesday’s Bloomington Faculty Council meeting.

Changing IU’s grade policy

According to IU’s current grading policy, undergraduate students can retake courses to benefit their GPA, but newly proposed amendments to the grade policy would give deans of schools the power to approve which courses can be replaced.

As of now, students who have received a grade below an A in a course may choose to retake the class. Upon completion of the course the second time, both grades will be applied to the student’s transcript, but only the second grade received will be counted toward the cumulative GPA. 

Jack Bielasiak, co-chair of the educational policies committee, proposed two amendments to this policy.

The first change gives the individual academic units, typically overseen by the dean of a school, power to approve which courses can be replaced.

Second, undergraduates would have the opportunity to take an equivalent graduate or honors section of the course as a replacement as long as the course satisfies the same level of academic difficulty.

“If you read what the policy had before, it was pretty generic,” said Dennis Groth, vice provost for undergraduate education. 

Discussion on the proposed amendments will continue at future BFC meetings. 

A new GPA 

BFC members also introduced a policy that would allow undergraduates to start with a fresh GPA after returning from a significant time away from IU.

Students would be eligible for this opportunity, Bielasiak said, if they had taken at least 36 months of absence from IU while pursuing their first undergraduate degree and had experienced a semester GPA below 2.0 before their hiatus.

“I like this policy very much in terms of giving students a second chance,” said council member Fritz Breithaupt. “I believe in second chances.”

Angie Raymond, a member of the BFC, said the time restriction placed on this policy is too long.

“What are these students going to do for three years?” Raymond asked the council. “So my mom has a catastrophic event where she’s diagnosed with cancer, I have OK grades, but suddenly she dies. You’re going to make me sit out? That’s insane.”

No action was taken on this item, as it will continue to be discussed in future meetings. 

Expanding the Diversity in the U.S. requirement 

Since the beginning of the calendar year, the BFC has debated whether or not a Diversity in the U.S. course should be expanded from a College of Arts and Sciences requirement to a general education requirement for all IU students.

Bielasiak said the learning outcomes for the new Diversity in the U.S. requirement include the three branches of knowledge, analysis and interpretive skills and intra- and interpersonal skills.These are guidelines that professors would be required to follow when teaching these courses.

Although Bielasiak was optimistic about introducing this requirement, some members of the BFC expressed doubts about the necessity of continuing Diversity in the U.S. as a general education course.

Council member Alan Bender suggested the BFC reconsider creating another requirement for students. Bender said he wished the BFC would focus more on supporting faculty who wish to integrate teaching diversity into their current courses.

Now that learning objectives for the requirement have been established, Bielasiak said the next step in this process is determining how the new general education requirement will be implemented in IU’s curriculum.

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