By Jonathan Bradley
Since Ryerson announced the optional credit or no credit grading system, some students said they are unsure on whether they’ll end up using it.
The Eyeopener previously reported that for winter 2020 classes, undergraduate and Chang School students have the option to maintain assigned letter grades, replace their grades with credit (CRD) grades, or drop their courses without academic penalty with no credit (NCR) grades. CRD and NCR grades don’t count towards GPA evaluations.
In a statement posted on March 25, Ryerson stated that undergraduate and Chang School students must submit a request form to have their grades changed on their transcripts. The W2020 COVID-19 Grade Replacement Request form is expected to become available on May 14 on RAMSS. Graduating students have until May 22 to submit a grade replacement request, and the deadline for all other students is May 29.
The university’s statement also states the CRD/NCR grading system remains unavailable for graduate students “given some of the complexities related to graduate education.”
Ryerson also stated the dean’s list—which recognizes full-time students that maintain an average term GPA of 3.67 or higher—will not have CRD/NCR grades factored into the eligibility criteria. The GPA used for eligibility will be based on the top six letter grades earned in the fall 2019 and winter 2020 semesters.
Julie Tran, a third-year early childhood studies student, said she plans on using the CRD/NCR grading system because she is concerned about one of her grades.
“I like it a lot, and I like how Ryerson is giving students this opportunity given these circumstances,” said Tran. “I don’t feel confident I’ll succeed as well as I’d hope in one of my classes because it’s online and involves presentations.”
Other students like Sylvia Rahman, a third-year nursing student, remain undecided on whether or not to use the new system. “I need to see my grades first,” said Rahman.
“Ideally, I would use it if there is a final grade that is impacting my GPA. I want to apply to graduate schools, so I’m not too sure as to how they view pass/fail courses, which is why I’m skeptical at the moment.”
The university’s statement also stated that students can request one or multiple letter grades be replaced. The requests will be submitted to and processed by the Office of the Registrar.
In addition, some faculties have minimum letter grade requirements for specific courses. Students are advised to check with their program departments to determine if it will affect future academic pathways before submitting a grade change request.
These changes come after a petition was started by a Ryerson student who asked the university to make courses pass/fail. The student who created the petition, Ester Shabani, said that she started it “so all students can focus on taking care of ourselves and those around us.”
The first school to implement a pass/fail grading system was the University of Alberta (U of A). On March 20, U of A announced that students will receive a credit or no credit grade for all winter 2020 courses.
Corinne Hart is an associate professor in nursing who is also an expert in student mental health. Hart said the optional CRD/NCR grading system is a sufficient solution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t think [the CRD/NCR system] is fantastic, but it’s the best they can offer students given the reality,” she said.
Hart noted that CRD/NCR grades will not completely alleviate the stress students are facing. Despite the credit or no credit option, students are still required to complete their assignments and coursework before the end of the term.
The Mental Health Index completed by Morneau Shepell found that 81 per cent of respondents reported the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.
Some schools have gone further than Ryerson when it comes to grades. For example, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology issued a statement that said students will receive grades using an honours/pass/fail system instead of percentage grades.
Hart also mentioned that isolation from other people can negatively impact students’ mental health. “Students have more time to sit at home and worry and become anxious. They’re not seeing their friends. They’re not doing the things they normally do.”
While Rahman said she is annoyed about the COVID-19 pandemic affecting her life, she is grateful Ryerson has the CRD/NCR grading system.
“Having an option with our grades not only helps with GPA, but also eases the pressure of having to do well,” said Rahman.