By Erica Dunigan
Staff reporter

When it comes to a student’s grades the process is far more complex than getting an A or B. A professor may weigh the grade either by points or percentages, and their grading scale may vary from the standard grading scale.

In many classes professors hand out syllabus that explain what is going to happen in the class, what days work is due, how many points you will get for assignments and tests, and how the grading scale for the class works.

However, the grading process may vary from a regular general education class, to classes that are required for a student’s major.

“For my classes I use the standard grading scale, but their grade is mainly base off of how they do on exams, an example would be in Human Sexuality, exams are worth 75 percent of their grade,” said

Claudia Geer, associate professor of psychology. “There are projects and presentations that will go toward their grade also in my classes. On my syllabus I break up by percentage how much the exams, projects, and presentations are worth towards their grade.”

For many students their degree depends on how the professor use the grading process.

“How we grade the nursing students determines if they get their BSN (Bachelor Science Nursing) degree,” said Jane Schlickau, associate professor of nursing. “The Nursing students will take up to 5,000 tests questions, and they have to pass each test with a 75 percent or higher to pass the Nursing program.”

Schlickau explained that nursing students could not get anything lower then a 75 percent, and if they did then they would not be able to stay in the Nursing program. She also explained how the student has to take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) test at the end of their senior year, and in order for them to pass it and become a RN (Registered Nurse) they have to get a 75 percent on it.

“The grading process for a nursing student is very strenuous and can get very stressful,” said Schlickau.

“At the beginning of their first year in the program we explain to them how the grading process works, and we give them tips on how they can study to help them make it through the program. The nursing

program is a lot different than taking classes for different majors.”

Some classes though may vary in teaching styles, and may require you to do most of the work on the computer. This class may also have up to 65 students, and is taught by four different teachers.

In Critical Issues and Health, a class that every student has to take at Southwestern, is taught and graded differently than most classes that a student may take. There are four teachers, and each teacher is responsible for 16 students. There will be four groups of students split up to each teacher by alphabetical order.

Pam Green, director of secondary education, said “each teacher teaches a section in the class. The students will submit their work on blackboard everyday at the end of class. The quizzes are also on blackboard. The teacher will then grade their section of the class, and then post the grade on blackboard.”

Green also talked about how they make sure that the student will know how the work and assessments will be graded. The professors also made sure to put together a thorough syllabus for the students, so they will know what part of the class will be discussed and gone over, and what assignments will be due for that day.

“By having a thorough syllabus the student will know when they need to turn in their work on blackboard, and when they will have quizzes on blackboard,” said Green. “We also explained to the students how much their class projects and sections are worth a certain percentage. We tried to make the percentages equally weighted, but this makes it easier for students to determine what their grade will be determined on, and why their grade is what it is.”

Sometimes the grading scale will seem difficult and confusing, but professors also try to make their office open for students to come in and ask questions about how their doing, or explain to a student why they got that grade.

Geer said, “After the first exam I have the students come in, so we can go over their exam. I want to hear their side of the story on why they got that grade, and I also try to make them feel comfortable in my class. I want the student to know that I’m here to help them. I want them to be successful in my classes. My grading process may be hard, but like any professor I want my students to succeed and do well after Southwestern.”

Erica Dunigan is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail her at