Grades later than usual, students say

Though many students have complained that they received fall term grades later than usual — blaming technical glitches, preoccupied instructors and the holiday vacation calendar — the registrar said there was no delay in uploading marks to the Student Information System. Rather, professors were responsible for delays in individual courses, she said.

The online Faculty Grading System was open and fully functional throughout the break, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Jill Carlton said. Several professors interviewed said they chose to wait until the Jan. 4 submission deadline or later to submit their grades for accuracy’s sake, while others waited because of difficulty navigating the online system.

The Faculty Grading System is a special program developed by the University that allows instructors to upload term marks electronically, Carlton said. The program automatically pushes data to the Student Information System on the half hour and hour. Though the fully automated system is intended to reduce human error in grading, professors must wade through several prompts when saving and uploading grades — at which point some professors become confused, Carlton said.

“Sometimes faculty can save course grades, and they forget to submit them,” Carlton said. “Or they click on submit, and they close their browser without doing all the acknowledgments. It’s a human error, and it doesn’t happen frequently.”

Economics professor Steven Berry said he made this mistake on Dec. 27 when he attempted to upload final marks for “Introductory Microeconomics,” a 380-student lecture. Berry missed the final prompt to submit his grades and accidentally saved them in the Faculty Grading System, where they sat until the Registrar’s Office sent him a reminder e-mail on Jan. 4. Berry, who was traveling that day, scrambled to find a computer and submit his grades in advance of the deadline.

“On my return to New Haven this week, I sent a couple of suggestions to the Registrar’s office about how the Web site might be slightly redesigned to make it clearer as to when the grades have or have not been successfully submitted,” Berry said in an e-mail. “I think some very simple changes would help.”

George Haddad ’11, a student in Berry’s course, said he found it strange that his professor and teaching fellows did not provide information about the delay.

“He never e-mailed us that it was going to be late, and our TFs never said anything,” Haddad said.

Melanie Plaza ’12 received her “Introduction to Cognitive Science” grade in the Student Information System two weeks after her teaching fellow sent it to her in an e-mail. At first, Plaza thought a backlog in the Registrar’s Office was to blame for the wait, but she said she soon began to wonder if her instructor had submitted the grade at all.

The course’s instructor, Brian Scholl, said he told his teaching fellows to send final grades to students via e-mail starting Dec. 16. But Scholl said he purposely waited until the last minute to submit grades to the Registrar to allow ample time for students to register requests to re-grade exams and papers before grades were finalized.

“Changing grades through the Registrar’s Office is not something that can easily be done via the online system,” Scholl said in an e-mail Friday. “This is the best of both worlds: it makes it easy for me to make any changes, but students still receive their grades early.”

Scholl did not notify students of this plan, nor did economics professor William Nordhaus, who used the same strategy for grading in “Intermediate Microeconomics.” Nordhaus, who submitted final grades on Jan. 8, joked that he and his teaching fellows were “slow-pokes” but explained that they delayed only because they decided to take extra time to review exams and papers and check for errors in their records.

“I have to say, the deadline isn’t until Jan. 4, or the first working day after the winter recess,” Carlton said. “Most professors are really very good about it.

As of last Wednesday, 930 individual grades for undergraduates enrolled in Yale College and graduate and professional school courses had not been submitted to the Registrar’s Office, Carlton said.

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