At a Loss

I am actually at a loss for words, which is rare for me.

We are wrapping-up final exams and to-date, I have 3 students who have willfully chosen to not take their semester exam! These students did not qualify for an exemption and therefore receive the grade of a zero on their exam! The students are fully aware of this are do not care.

Why They Don’t Care

Currently, we run a 9-week quarter system. Quarters 1 and 2 comprise the fall semester and quarters 3 and 4 comprise the spring semester.

At the conclusion of each semester, we have a semester exam. Each of the two quarters is 45% of the semester average (combined for 90% of total grade) with the remaining 10% coming from the semester exam.

The two semester grades are equally averaged together to calculate a year-end grade. This grade is what is used to determine if a student receives credit for the course.

These 3 students have said that as long as they get credit for the year, they are fine to fail the semester.

What The Numbers Look Like

Let’s say that we have a student with the following grades:

Q1) 85 (B)
Q2) 75 (C)
SE1) 90 (A-)
S1) 81 (B-)
 
Q3) 70 (C-)
Q4) 61 (F)
SE2) 0 (F)
S2) 58.85 (F)
 
YR) 69.925 (F)

As you can see, this students finished the first semester with a low-B (81). They opted to not take the final exam and finished the second semester with an F (58.85). This resulted in them finishing the year with a 69.925. While this is technically passing, this is barely a pass and clearly does not demonstrate what the student is capable of.

Now, let’s look and see what happens if the student were to have taken the exam:

Q1) 85 (B)
Q2) 75 (C)
SE1) 90 (A-)
S1) 81 (B-)
 
Q3) 70 (C-)
Q4) 61 (F)
SE2) 88 (B+)
S2) 67.75 (F)
 
YR) 74.375 (C)

As you can see now, if the student were to simply take the exam and score an 88, which they scored higher than that on the first semester exam, they would finish the second semester with a 67.75, which is 8.9 points higher than if they took a zero on the exam.

For the year, they would finish with a 74.375. For GPA purposes, this is still a C, but it is a mid-C versus a low-C that was rounded-up from a high-F.

A Suggestion – Make It Count More!

I would suggest that we look at increasing the weight of the semester exam. At 10%, it has an impact on their grade, but not too much of one.

As opposed to a 45% / 45% / 10% split, maybe we should consider a 40% / 40% / 20% split. Here is how that would look with those grades from earlier:

Q1) 85 (B)
Q2) 75 (C)
SE1) 90 (A-)
S1) 82 (B-)
 
Q3) 70 (C-)
Q4) 61 (F)
SE2) 88 (B+)
S2) 70 (C-)
 
YR) 76 (C)

Using the 40% / 40% / 20% split, you can see that the semester average and therefore the year average is impacted greater.

Let’s see what happens when a students elects to take a zero on the exam:

Q1) 85 (B)
Q2) 75 (C)
SE1) 90 (A-)
S1) 82 (B-)
 
Q3) 70 (C-)
Q4) 61 (F)
SE2) 0 (F)
S2) 52.4 (F)
 
YR) 67.2 (F)

As you can see now, if a student were to decide to take a zero on the exam under the 40% / 40% / 20% split, they would fail the semester with a 67.2.

By all accounts, the student is academically able to perform they work, they are just unwilling to do it and know that they can still get their course credit.

What are your ideas to address the situation?