SFU’s FD grade seen as necessary; Kwantlen has no plans to introduce it

December 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

It was a little more than a year-and-a-half ago that a senate sub-committee for Simon Fraser University implemented the FD grade, also known as failure for academic dishonesty, in an effort to strengthen the school’s policies on academic integrity and prevent cheating by use of the internet.

Today, SFU is still the only university in Canada that uses the FD grade, which stays on a student’s transcript for two years after graduation.

Kate Ross, SFU’s registrar and executive director, student enrollment explained the rest of the FD grade’s process.

“If no further acts of academic dishonesty have occurred [after two years], the registrar will automatically change the grade to F,” said Ross.

Although no statistics on how many students have been affected by this grade have been released yet, SFU students have been generally accepting of the grade’s purpose since its introduction. General studies student Jayna Bhindi believes that the FD grade is necessary for students who cheat.

“If I receive an FD, then not only does it mean that I plagiarized in that specific course, but it can also give the impression that I may have done the same thing in my previous classes and I was lucky enough to not have got caught, so whoever receives an FD receives it because that’s what they essentially deserve,” said Bhindi.

Silvia Duran, also a general studies student, agreed with Bhindi.

“[An FD] blatantly states the dishonesty that the student receiving the grade has practiced, and it not only shows future…schools, or even employers that you’ve failed, but you’ve failed for passing off somebody else’s work as your own,” said Duran.

A third student, Alvin Gutierrez, has some doubts about the grade.

“To me, there’s an inconsistency with the FD grade because what if a student simply forgets to put quotes around something someone said? I’m not sure how easy it would be to get out of that one,” said Gutierrez.

The question now is whether any other universities in Canada will follow suit and implement an FD grade of their own.

“We have certainly had inquires about [the FD grade], but to date I am not aware of anyone else introducing it in Canada,” said Ross.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s director, admissions and records, Zena Mitchell, said Kwantlen has no plan of introducing an FD grade at this time.

Kwantlen scores low in student ratings

November 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Jacqueline Ho on her computer at ratemyprofessor.com (Photo by Josh Saggau)

When it comes time to select classes for the next semester, it can be hard to know what each class is going to be like. To help, students have ratemyprofessors.com.

The site, which was started in 1999, has compiled over 11 million student-based rankings of teachers at more than 6,000 schools in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland and Wales to help students find the kind of professor they are looking for.

“It helps students to know more about their instructors. We hope to find an instructor that works for us. I think that it’s beneficial for students,” said Sandy Wong, a Kwantlen human resource student.

The site asks students to rate current and past teachers on easiness, helpfulness and clarity, so that future students can get a feel for the type of teacher they are going to have even before they step into the classroom.

“I know some students check it before they enrol in class to see who the professor is and it kind of sways if they are going to enrol in that class,” said Caitlin Penberthy, an environmental protection program student.

Kwantlen’s average ratings on the site are quite low compared to other universities in the Lower Mainland. While SFU, UBC and UFV have average ratings of 3.24, 3.29 and 3.54, Kwantlen is averaging just 2.7.

“It’s subjective. If you don’t get a good mark, then obviously you’re going to be upset and write something that’s not so great. I would hope that if teachers look at it, they would understand it’s subjective,” said Penberthy.

SFU to rally for education: Will Kwantlen?

November 7, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

(Provided by the SFU Community Coaltion's education rally campaign)

Simon Fraser University will host a student-led education rally Wednesday to protest funding cuts to universities and issues surrounding student debt.

The SFU Community Coalition aims to raise awareness about the current state of education funding in B.C., in the hopes of making post-secondary education a high priority in B.C.’s next provincial budget.

The Nov. 10 rally, scheduled for the Convocation Mall at 3 p.m., is an offspring of the Canadian Federation of Students’ student debt campaign, which focuses on similar issues and unites students in an attempt to induce legislative education reforms.

Unlike other universities across Canada, Kwantlen has yet to speak out about those issues.

“The KSA will have a campaign, it’s just a matter of to what extent students grasp it and to what extent we are able to use our capacities to the fullest in the KSA,” said Bradley Head, the KSA’s director of academic affairs, and the chair of the academic issues committee.

The capacity of the KSA is currently limited: internal politics have rendered council ineffective since the start of the fall semester, and there haven’t been any official meetings since September, according to Head.

“We’ve been in discussion with SFU a little bit, but not to the extent where we can do any big campaign,” he said.

Head said that the KSA would like to look into receiving more operating funds and grants for the university, increasing class sizes and making student loans more accessible.

These are similar to the issues being brought up on Wednesday on SFU, along with reducing student loan interest rates, and increasing funding to StudentAid B.C., a government program that helps students with the cost of post-secondary education.

The provincial budget will be finalized mid-November, so students have limited time to voice the changes they’d like to see in the 2011 budget.

But change is possible. And with Premier Gordon Campbell’s recent announcement that he will be resigning, there may be hope for increased funding towards education.

“I think that [with] the change in premier, there’s a lot of positive that could come from it for the school,” said Head.

“Depending on who is placed in that position, their opinions based on student debt and the way the education system’s currently funded, [it] could massively change any chances the student unions have of decreasing or maintaining current tuition,” Head speculated.

Head said he hopes the issue be brought up within the KSA in the next two to three weeks.

“[But] that’s if council meets,” he said. “If council doesn’t meet, there’s no way to actually do the campaign.”