Even though many students see the drop period as a way to leave courses that they underperform in, some professors don't provide significant feedback on students' performances until after the drop deadline has passed.
The drop deadline, which was on Oct. 9 this semester, comes at the end of a five-week period at the beginning of the fall and spring semesters when students are allowed to remove courses from their schedule without them appearing on their transcript. Some professors do not give students meaningful assessments of their performances before the end of the period.
College junior Natasha Allen said she didn’t receive a major assessment for her economics class, Econ 102: "Macroeconomic Theory" until the drop date had already passed, even though they had submitted homework the week before.
“It would have been nice to have the homework graded before the drop deadline, since the homework is modeled after the midterm,” she said.
She added that even though her professor will replace the lowest midterm score with an average of the grades of the other two exams, she would have preferred to know her scores in advance.
College sophomore Eliza Halpin said that none of her classes had midterms before the drop date. Not receiving a significant grade before the drop deadline adds to student stress, she said, as it makes it harder for students to rate their performance in a course before it's too late.
“In my geology class, we haven't even turned in a single assignment. I didn’t know if I was doing anything right. It was pretty impossible to gauge where I was at,” Halpin said.
She added that if she had had the opportunity to gauge her performance before the deadline in one of her current classes, she certainly would have dropped it.
Halpin said that she would support a policy requiring faculty to return at least one major assessment before the drop deadline.
Omar Elbulok, a College sophomore on a pre-med track, said his first Chem 101 midterm was after the drop deadline.
“83 percent of the class is midterms and finals,” he said. “We’ve gotten back some Canvas quizzes and homework that makes up such a tiny portion of the class that you can't really gauge how you're doing.”
College sophomore Prashant Godishala, who is also pre-med and taking Chem 101, echoed Elbulok’s sentiments. He added that not knowing your performance before the drop deadline made taking exams more stressful.
“It puts a lot more pressure on students going into each exam," Godishala said. “If you do well, you do well, but if you don't do well, what do you do?”
While both Elbulok and Godishala admitted that they would have had no intention of dropping the course, even if grades were received earlier, as Chem 101 is a requirement for pre-med students like them, they said that it seemed very inconvenient for non-pre-med students who would have a better opportunity to drop the course.
“It’s nice to know how you’re doing in a class, that’s the reason why we have a drop deadline,” Elbulok said.
Paul Sniegowski, the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said the University does not plan to implement a policy requiring professors to return significant assessments before the drop date.
“It's good practice to have the first midterm before the drop deadline, and certainly it's discussed among faculty. But, having a policy that mandates that, is not something that we would put on our faculty,” Sniegowski said.
Associate Dean of the College and Director of Academic Affairs Kent Peterman agreed and said that course instructors are encouraged to return major assessments before the drop deadline. He said that he was not aware that courses such as Chem 101 only offered midterms after the drop date.
“I’m actually curious about that, I want to talk to the undergraduates in chemistry and see what’s going on here,” Peterman said.
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