Instructors now required to give students preliminary feedback

Really struggling with a course can be incredibly frustrating and overwhelming, especially when you consider that the final grade will end up on your academic transcript. One of the options in this situation is to withdraw from the course, in which case you do not end up with a grade on your transcript, but rather a “W”.

Midterms and formal evaluation generally occur after the withdrawal deadline, which is the 30th day of the course for the Fall and Spring semesters. Due to this timeline, students do not always have enough feedback to determine how they are progressing and make a well-informed decision. However, due to a recent policy amendment made by the Senate, instructors are now required to give students feedback before the end of the withdrawal period.

The policy now states the necessity of “early, frequent and meaningful feedback prior to the course withdrawal date. If no formal evaluative feedback is scheduled prior to the course withdrawal date, the course outline must clearly articulate the process by which students receive meaningful feedback on their progress in the course.”

Kevin Murray, a Capilano University student who has been through the withdrawal process, said it was not a very difficult process. “I withdrew from a Philosophy of Mind class and it was pretty simple,” Murray said. Despite the ease of the option, however, he notes that he could not have done it without his advisor. “I had to search very carefully for the information about it to weigh my options.”

When you withdraw from a course, you end up with a “W” on your transcript instead of a final grade. Murray was “assured by my advisor that schools weren’t that concerned about the ‘W’ mark on a transcript … that is, if there is only one and it didn’t appear the student was using the withdrawal option to avoid getting bad grades.”

According to an Admissions Advisor at SFU (who does not wish to be named), the “W” on a students’ transcript does not make a difference when transferring. “We do the same thing for withdrawal here. It just informs the University that the student has withdrawn from a course.” 

The new policy change was made in an attempt to make withdrawal simpler and easier for students, and not such an overwhelming process. According to Murray, if the policy change had been made when he was making the decision to withdraw from a course, he would have felt a lot less stress. “The option would have been much more clear,” Murray stated. “When I went through it, I felt that I was doing a marginal thing.”

Although the Senate agreed almost unanimously that the policy change was positive, student representative to the Senate Nicolle Smith chose to vote the policy change down. She noted in her senate report that she feels that the senate is “skirting around the issue” of distinguishing between “students getting feedback [and] students getting feedback prior to the withdrawal date of a course.”

The policy change is meant to help students, and perhaps make the withdrawal process easier without having to consult an advisor. “Overall, I think the change is good,” Murray said. “Having the professor talk about it will help students take ownership over their schooling options, rather than finding themselves wrestling with cryptic policy jargon.”

//Krissi Bucholtz

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com