Midterm grades are still being affected by pandemic

Ellie Lowe, Staff Writer

The past few semesters have been challenging for most students with classes being a mix of in-person, hybrid and remote learning. While this semester is back to primarily in-person learning, the effects of the pandemic still linger.

Midterm grades are a way for professors to indicate to a student that they currently have a low or failing grade. Midterm grade reports are only given to students who have grades in the D-F range and do not go on transcripts. They are meant to reach out to a student so they can make the changes necessary to succeed in the class. 

“The philosophy for many faculty members is to use midterm grades liberally because they don’t stay on the students record permanently,” Professor Karen Castle, the chair of the Chemistry Department, said. “They can be really useful for encouraging students who are struggling.”

This past semester the Chemistry Department, as well as other departments, saw an increase in the amount of midterm grades given. Chemistry, like many subjects, is one that builds on itself. Many students found it difficult to learn during the pandemic as classes were remote. 

“I think that in some cases the remote course modality works for some students and it doesn’t work for other students,” Castle said. With there being a struggle to learn the fundamentals of subjects, such as chemistry, it is probable that there would be more students struggling to learn new material that is based upon foundational knowledge. 

One class that has gotten some attention for being particularly difficult this semester is Organic Chemistry II. While Organic Chemistry is known for being hard, it appears as though more students are struggling with it this semester. 

“The thing that is special in some ways about Organic Chemistry II is that this is a course that directly builds on the prerequisite course,” Castle said.

This leads back to the issue that students may be lacking the fundamental knowledge they need to succeed in courses that build on each other, simply due to the fact that while the University has returned to normal it is impossible to forget the side effects of the pandemic, Castle added.

“I think we will continue to see the pandemic effects for the foreseeable future, but I do think it’s probably worse this year. I think it’s going to get better… Most of the students who are taking Organic II are sophomores… I think many of them didn’t pick up the study skills, and didn’t really learn what a college lab science was like,” Castle said.

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