Teaching assistants, instructors work to extend grade input deadline

By Vivian La, Staff Writer

Graduate instructors are attempting to extend the current University grade input deadline of Dec. 23 with little success because of administrative policies.

The final examination period officially ends on Dec. 18, and all final grades must be inputted by instructors by Dec. 23 at 2 p.m.

Graduate instructors and TAs are proposing an extension to Jan. 3, allowing them time to grade finals and other assignments while balancing their own academics, according to Ben Crane, a graduate student in LAS and TA for REL 110: World Religions.

“I still love this class, but the grading time required is probably up 400%,” he said. “It’s insurmountable.”

Crane said he and other TAs are going to have to request incompletes for their own courses to complete the increased grading due to different delivery modes, required manual grading and other pandemic-related factors.

“The path to emergency action is quite a difficult one that doesn’t really have any promise left,” Crane said.

Meghan Hazen, University registrar, said that as much as her office would like to extend it, the Dec. 23 deadline cannot be changed because other academic processes are dependent on this date.

“We truly did try to take into consideration everyone’s various pressures and difficulties, also while recognizing that there are certain things outside of our control and that we cannot change,” Hazen said.

Hazen said decisions about federal financial aid and academic standing have set dates because students return to campus mid-January. The added week to winter break isn’t really an extra week, she said.

Even with the recent implementation of a credit/no credit policy, Hazen said this deadline would still need to be this early and historically is not unusual.

She said her staff also will likely have to work throughout the holiday break to process grades and test the new CR/NC system that requires manual input. Students have until Jan. 5 to request CR/NC for any course.

Crane is a graduate representative on the UI Senate and first proposed the consideration for extending the grade input deadline at the Dec. 7 meeting. He said he waited until the policies for CR/NC were finalized before pursuing this action.

“I wanted to make sure there weren’t any hiccups or interruptions about the CR/NC issue just because my stance is that the more people that can be helped, the better,” he said.

The consideration to hear the proposal was denied 60-40 after some technical difficulties with the voting system and Crane’s oral arguments.

Crane said it’s frustrating because the make-up of the 280 member Senate is majority faculty and emeritus professors. There is little representation of graduate students who do a lot of the grading on campus.

“When something like this is proposed, it doesn’t change anything for them,” Crane said. “I think when people talk about students, they’re too frequently not talking about all students. Rarely are graduate and professional students in mind when people discuss these things.”

Crane said this deadline could also impact undergraduates. He said he’s seen TAs in desperate situations do drastic things, like skimming a paper and quickly assigning a grade “like choosing random letters on a Scantron.”

“Most of my colleagues really wanted to give students in a difficult place additional feedback and extensions,” he said.

Hazen said the school values graduate TAs very much and recognizes that they are some of the most hands-on, involved instructors on campus.

“We’re trying to balance the needs of the students with the needs of the faculty, and the needs of the regulations we have to follow,” she said. “It’s just really difficult for everybody I think.”

Crane said this situation is concerning to him as someone who’s been in University classrooms virtually and physically over the years.

“Listening to faculty members say ‘we need to do everything we can to support these students,’ and seeing this as an opportunity to do so, and not even considering it, is greatly discouraging,” Crane said.

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