Because of the importance of grades when seeking jobs post-graduation, university students are studying hard in the hopes of securing a high grade point average (GPA). As a result, they are sensitive about their results. Since the start of the government’s national evaluation program of universities, most institutions have begun to strengthen their systems of relative evaluation and restrict the regulations for repeating courses. To prevent what is known as ’credit inflation‘, the university introduced a strict grade curve policy. Under the terms of this policy, the only way to make up for a low score is to retake the class. While it is difficult for all Korean university students to earn their desired results without retaking the course, Dankook University (DKU) however, as compared to other universities, has introduced further tough rules governing grades earned for courses that are repeated. As a result, many Dankookians have complained stating that “Our grading policy for courses that we re-take is stricter than any other university.” So the Dankook Herald (DKH) investigated our system and compared it with the course re-do policies at other universities.
First, we examined the DKU policy for scoring classes taken for a second time. In 2011, the school rules for someone who re-took a class, allowed for a higher grade to be earned and counted. A review of these rules came into effect in 2013 and stated that while a course can be re-done, the student should not be allowed to earn higher than a B+ the second time. In 2014 DKU took the already strict rules a step further saying final grades for any class re-done could only result in at best, an average between the original and secondary results and could still not be above a B+. This means that if a student earned a C+ the first time, and a B+ the second, the highest possible score they could receive for the class was a B. This further grade restriction is the main sticking point that many Dankookians are complaining about.
|▲ Dankookians are hard to get a good grade by the change of retaking course.|
To understand the position of students, the DKH interviewed Kim Se-jeong and Han Na-yeon (Sophomore, Communication). We asked them what they thought about our grading policy for classes that are retaken. They shared the opinion that the system should be altered, so that students are able to earn as much as an A for any classes they re-do, as it is for students at other universities. Kim Se-jeong added “Although the students retaking class can be given an A, it should not be a problem for other students, because they do not always get a good grade,” she said when dealing with the complaint about the possibility of discrimination.
To assess DKU’s course retaking system more objectively, we decided to compare it to the policies in force at other universities. In the case of Yonsei University, they only consider the final score in a student’s overall average for classes that are retaken, but their transcript is marked whether or not the course was repeated. They also permit students to retake a class three times, but in case of a core subject course, the chances are unlimited. In their case, all subjects of completion are included in their average. The maximum score that students can receive after repeating a class is A. In the case of the Sookmyung Women’s University, any previous score is deleted when the student retakes the course. The maximum score permitted is A- and there is no limit on the number of times the class can be repeated.
Hongik University has an interesting system as compared to other universities. Students have the opportunity to re-do entire semesters as if they flunked the term. Their system includes a maximum possible score of B+ for classes that are repeated. However, if they retake the class during the summer or winter sessions, they can earn up to an A. As you can see, most universities in Seoul have softer rules for course repeats than DKU.
We interviewed staff of DKU’s academic team to find out why. We were told, “In the past, there were no grade restrictions and limits to the number of times you could repeat a class. However retaking a class didn’t have any attractive advantages. The results were written in your report card and this made it hard for students to fill out their graduate scores.“ As to the question of why DKU enacted stricter rules in 2014, he replied, “Actually we aren’t the only university to make these changes. In accordance with a national policy directive, most universities altered their credit policies to a stricter system.” Next, the DKH asked about the influence these rules have on the evaluations of the university. “It may have an influence on our operational evaluation standards which looks at whether or not we offer inflated A’s. So it’s possible DKU was looked at more favorably than in the past,” he admitted. Finally, the DKH asked about the possibility of revamping the rules, but he insisted they were better for the university and student recognition process.
Many Dankookians have expressed discontent with the evaluation of repeated courses. In fact, there has long since been a sense of dissatisfaction with the system, yet the strict rules remain in place. Because of the evaluations of the university, most universities execute strict credit policies. Comparing to other universities in Seoul, the DKU’s policy system is stricter than the others. As we discovered, the rules governing the treatment of results from retaking a course at DKU are stricter because it impacts the evaluations of the university. Even if we ease the retaking system from calculating average credits to giving the new retaking credit as it is, it cannot have a large impact on it. We hope the university takes the time to rethink this system and is open to ideas from the point of view of its students.
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