Half of all undergraduate, third of graduate students used spring pass/fail policy: officials

Media Credit: File Photo by Gabrielle Rhoads | Staff Photographer

Officials announced in March that undergraduates would be able to take “most” classes as pass/fail after moving all classes to an online format.

Officials said just more than half of all undergraduates and nearly a third of all graduate students took at least one class last semester as Pass/No Pass or Credit/No Credit.

University spokesperson Crystal Nosal said 50.8 percent of undergraduate students and 31.2 percent of graduate students took at least one class as pass/fail or Credit/No Credit. She said 96 percent of courses taken pass/fail by undergraduates resulted in course grades of “P” and 87.6 percent of courses taken Credit/No Credit by graduate students resulted in course grades of “CR.”

Officials announced in March that undergraduates would be able to take “most” classes as pass/fail after moving all classes to an online format. GW Law officials also moved all classes to the Credit/No Credit format last semester, and Nosal said officials from the School of Medicine and Health Sciences continued to assign letter grades.

Nosal said the remainder of students who did not receive a pass or credit grade who requested to take a class as pass/fail or Credit/No Credit received a “combination” of no pass grades, incompletes and withdrawals.

“In spring 2020, students were afforded the opportunity to see their grades and then pick-and-choose which, if any, grades to replace with a P or NP,” she said in an email. “In addition, the criteria for making the dean’s list was relaxed for spring 2020.”

She said officials saw a “sharp increase” in the number of students who were eligible for the dean’s list last semester, which she said was a result of changes like the pass/fail and Credit/No Credit option and a more “relaxed” criteria to opt in to the pass/fail policy.

“Along with these changes, we saw a sharp increase in the number of students eligible for making the dean’s list in spring 2020 with prior semesters,” she said. “We had fewer full-time students, but a larger percentage of them were dean’s list-eligible in spring 2020.”

She said 47.4 percent of students made the Dean’s List in spring 2020 compared to 25.9 percent in spring 2019. From fall 2018 to fall 2019, the percentage of students who made the Dean’s List increased by 0.8 percentage points, she said.

Provost Brian Blake sent out a survey to undergraduates and graduate students two weeks ago for feedback on whether officials should implement the policy again this semester, and officials said the majority of undergraduate and graduate students support adopting pass/fail and Credit/No credit policies this fall.

“There is agreement among the provost, deans and faculty that faculty should continue to be mindful of the continuing difficulties presented by the coronavirus, taking care to be flexible, supportive and understanding in working with students who want to remove a grade, request additional time to satisfy course requirements or take a leave of absence,” Nosal said.

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