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Building a “Scale” Model

A few weeks ago the University released a statement saying they were working with the WSU on a grade scaling model in response to COVID-19. It was a day or two after Auckland University had announced that they would be applying automatic scaling to all grades. The statement Waikato put out specifically mentioned that they were unlikely to adopt Auckland’s approach, which had started to be applied by other Universities including Otago and Massey. So Waikato Students, rightly, started asking the questions about what the WSU and the University were going to do. Petitions were created, letters were signed, and then with little fanfare the University released their plan.

The main points of which are:

  • All students will automatically be reviewed for special consideration as “impaired performance.
  • Grades will be compared with a student’s academic performance so far and scaled up (NOT DOWN) accordingly but there is no limit to how much each grade can be scaled.
  • Special attention will be paid to any student who is close to failing a paper, and if they do then it won’t count toward your GPA.
  • First year students with no previous academic record will have consideration applied against the average of the paper.
  • Further consideration can be applied for those who have exceptional hardship circumstances.

While that seems like a reasonable outcome we thought we would have a chat with Kyla about it before the NRL season restarts this weekend and we lose her to her beloved Mebourne Storm.

NEXUS Are you happy with the outcome?

KYLA I am happy with the outcome. I think it’s consistent with the support students have received even before lock-down began. I think if we were to implement a grade bump after many assignments have already been graded with this situation in mind, results would be significantly higher and not a true reflection of our capabilities.

NEXUS Were the University open to listening to your concerns?

KYLA As soon as I heard UOA’s announcement I emailed the VC and have been part of the conversations until we came to a decision. We both saw an opportunity to work progressively to keep our academic integrity intact but also afford students an incentive should they not have achieved as well as in the past.

NEXUS How is this model better than the one the University of Auckland used?

KYLA Like I said earlier, I think this model is consistent with the support we’ve received over the last 2 or so months. We transitioned quickly to online teaching and learning and the semester has been relatively the same with not much affect to the rest of our calendar year. Everyone will remember the year 2020. Our academic transcripts will say “impaired performance” so the model itself gives students grades and degrees integrity

NEXUS Grades are only one part of the issues students are facing will the WSU be doing more for student hardship?

KYLA Yeah of course. And we’ve been doing a lot more than we usually would have. We have an amazing team to help students access the right services, help students out financially, academically and whatever. You just need to know that we’re here for whatever and we’ve got your back.