Campus ReportingCampus Issue
Professor, If You Want to Give Me "C", Please Give Me "F" instead!What is going on with the course retaking system?
Lee Su-yeun Editor  |  vivid0216@yonsei.ac.kr
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승인 2004.11.05  00:00:00
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Editor's Note

By Yoo Hee-kon,
Reporter of Campus Reporting Div.

AS THE
AS THE economic depression in Korea continues, "Good Grades" have become a very sensitive problem to all university students, including Yonseians. In this situation, many Yonseians have a big interest in the course retaking system since it was made an issue by the school authorities some years ago. There have been many rumors, but no correct information concerning the new system's progress, the contents of the 2003 and 2004 agreements, or other university's systems exist.
   This month's "Cover Story" of The Yonsei Annals focuses on the course retaking system of Yonsei Univ. In this article, we focus on general students' perspectives, not on the school authorities or the SA (Student Association).

JUNG JAE-GU (Soph., Dept. of English Lang. & Lit.) has a worry nowadays. He is going to serve his military service for about two years from next semester. For that, he has to be absent from school temporarily. It is not a matter of him dropping out of school for several years, but the problem that makes him worried is his grades. He has two "C+s", a "C0" and "C-" during the last three semesters. He should retake those courses to increase his overall grade. However, according to a rumor, retaking a course graded over "C-" will be prohibited from next semester. Then, he will not be able to supplement his grades even after readmission. On the other hand, there are also other rumors that the course retaking system is not going to be changed in such a short time.

   Jung does not know what the truth really is. He is confused about what to do. He asked all of his seniors and friends, and searched on all the websites, but he could not find the information about it anywhere. Finally, Jung has to go to the army with the problem of grades unsolved.

   Not only him but also most Yonseians are worried about the problem. No one knows exactly about this issue. What is going on with the course retaking system? Why do Yonseians so resist this expected change? And why are the school authorities trying to change this course retaking system despite the students' opposition?

Items about course retaking system according to the 2003 and 2004 agreement
-----------------------------------------

On 2003
▶ The course retaking system that is modified will be postponed for a while (do not start at once), and it is needed to organize the system improving team including representatives of students and the school authorities.
▶ The proposal about the new system should mention opening classes that consist only of students who are retaking the classes, and grading these students with an absolute evaluating system. Otherwise, the classes should be divided into students taking the class for the first or second time, and grade them separately. Especially the students who are retaking the class should be graded with an absolute evaluating system.
▶ The courses cancelled already should be replaced with alternative courses during the summer session.
▶ Students should be notified about courses that will be cancelled before the course application period.
-----------------------------------------------
On 2004
▶ The course retaking system will be modified by organizing the system improving team quickly.
▶ An evaluating system that is suitable to each class's character should be introduced.

Items about a modifying
the course retaking system

   In fact, about two years ago, there was already a rumor that the course retaking system would be prohibited. The SA conferred with the school authorities and drew up an agreement, on April, 2003 and again in May, 2004. However, those are not final drafts and the conference about the course retaking system is still under consideration.

   The agreement about the course retaking system in 2003 proposed making a course retaking system team and establishing alternative or substitute classes in the case of closed classes (those classes which have been permanently cancelled). It also referred to a grading system for students retaking classes. They would be graded by an absolute evaluating system, or would be separated from students who took the class only one, according to this agreement. The 2004 agreement is just a supplement to the 2003 agreement. It mentions organizing the team, the same as the 2003 agreement, and considers other evaluating systems that are suitable for each class's character.

   However, Yonseians have difficulty knowing exactly how the course retaking system will be changed. Jung Jae-gu says, "I think this issue was raised several years ago. Although this system will be changed, I want a definite answer from the school authorities or SA. I get irritated by their ambiguous attitude."

The attitude of
both the authorities and students

   At present, there is no limitation to retaking courses. Any students can retake a course regardless of his grade: A to F. However, the school authorities insist that the new course retaking system will be limited to students who received a grade under D. According to the authorities, the present course retaking system has various problems. They surveyed Yonseians about their thoughts of the present course retaking system in 2002. The result came out that 60% of respondents thought that the present system should be improved.

   The school authorities give some reasons why the course retaking system should be modified. First, it makes vicious circles. Kohakbeon (students who entered a long time before) retake courses, which are for freshmen, so it is disadvantageous for freshmen to get a good grade by competing with seniors who are taking the course more than once. Later, they also will retake the course to recover their low grade. This phenomenon has continued again and again. Kim Kwang-soo (Fresh., Area of Liberal Arts) says, "In some courses which I am taking this semester, there are so many seniors that I feel I can not get a good grade because of competing with them. I had better retake these courses next semester."

   Secondly, it is also a nuisance to the professors, because some students give up studying and bother the atmosphere of the class, when it seems they cannot get a good grade. Third, from the point of quality of academic environment, it is impossible to open a new class due to the course retaking system. In other words, the more students retaking courses, the more classrooms will be needed. Because of the lack of classrooms, new classes that would be useful for students cannot be opened and it cause damages to Yonseians. Besides, more classes require more lecturers. The number of full-time lecturers is not enough. Then it becomes unavoidable to use part-time lectures, and according to student course evaluations, students prefer full-time lectures for their lectures' quality. A school authority says, "If the course retaking students decreased, it would be possible to open 100 new classes, and divide a big class into a smaller one. This can improve students' environment more efficiently."
  
   Then why do the school authorities not just abolish the system? "I think it is better to abolish the system, but it is virtually impossible, due to the students' demand. The most urgent work at this point is to reduce the number of students who retake a course. Then the problems caused by the system will be solved to some degree," says Lee Bo-young, Dir. of Curriculum Department in Office of Academic Affairs. About 8% of Yonseians are retaking a course currently, according to Dir. Lee, and among them, students who got above C in the first course are 65%. To allow students with a grade under D to retake course, therefore, is the most efficient way.

   In fact, most students understand the side effects of our course retaking system and also understand the school authorities' attitude. However, students do not think the grade limitation is an efficient way. Although the school authorities insist the grade limitation will minimize harmful effects of the course retaking system, there will be other problems.

   Some students point out that those students who expect bad grades will not study. Lee Eun-bee (Soph., Dept. of English Lang. & Lit.) refers, "It is unfair that students who studied hard but received C cannot retake the course, and students who did not make a serious effort can do that. If I were in that place, I would rather play and receive a D." It also can be a problem that students converge into a course, in which it is easy to get a good grade. It is against the academic goal which the school pursues.
Besides, it is disadvan-tageous for Yonseians when competing for a job, because other universities do not limit those who may retake courses. When Yonseians compete with them, it is certain who make a good impression: other university students with no C on their transcripts, or Yonseian with several C grades.

The situation at this point

   Yonseians cannot get any information anywhere, not on Yonsei Univ. website, SA's website, or placards on Baikyang-ro. They just hear rumors from their friends and know that the course retaking system will be changed someday. Many Yonseians, especially men who are going to join the army feel some misgivings about their academic courses.
   The SA has attempted to have a meeting with the school authorities from the beginning of this year, as a name CPS (Conference of Professors & Students for school development). Professors were organized with Vice Pres. for Academic Affairs, Dir. of Office of Academic Affairs, Planning and Management, Student Affairs and Services, and Women Students Affairs. Students consisted of the SA and WSA (Woman Student Association), and the Pres. of each college.

   With a change of Pres. of Yonsei Univ., however, it was difficult to have a meeting in June, because the new authorities had not taken over their work yet. The meeting was also not held in September because of the Yon-Ko Fete. Therefore, the meeting in June and September were canceled and it was finally held on Oct. 7. "We have tried to hold a conference with professors constantly. Yet because of changing of the school authorities, it has been delayed until October," says Bae Jin-woo, Pres. Of the SA (Jr., Dept. of Math). According to him, there was no solution or alternative plan made at the course retaking system conference on Oct. 7. "The school authorities said they had some measures, but they have not been revealed yet. The conference is likely going to be held soon if our works succeeded," says Pres. Bae. He adds that, "But we, the SA are now concerned with freezing the tuition, because it is more urgent than the course retaking system right now. Thus as soon as this problem about tuition is solved, we will try to do best with more concentration." However, it is questionable which issue is more important.

A way the course retaking system will go

   Some students suggest the deleting unit system or abandoning the course system, which has already been introduced in some other universities. For example, in Korea Univ., there is a deleting unit system. According to school regulation Article No. 52 of Korea Univ., a student who has registered for seven years can delete up to maximum of six units. The object of class abandoning is only used in the case of cancelled classes, because of changing academic program. Although only cancelled classes can be deleted, it is helpful to students who cannot retake some non-existing courses. Currently, based on research of the SA, about 28 subjects can not be retaken because they are permanently cancelled in Yonsei. In Sookmyung Univ., there is a course abandoning system. Through this system, students can give up a course and the fact that they give up is not left on their academic record. "In my school, a student who retakes a course is graded with a limitation under A-. It is the student's choice to willingly submit to not receiving A+ or abandoning a course and taking a seasonal session to fill earned credits," says Nam Hee-kyung (Soph., Dept. of Law). Students in Sookmyung Univ. have a right to choose because they can give up if they feel the course is not good or they would not receive an ideal grade.

   About these opinions, the school authorities reply that Yonsei Univ. has no idea of adopting those systems. They insist that it reduces students' motivation to study. However, will they take the blame if Yonseians have a disadvantage when looking for a job? The school authorities say they will try not to cause harm to Yonseians by the course retaking system. However, there is no way to know the truth.

   On the other hand, the SA is also confident that the course retaking system will not be changed into for the worse, as the school authorities want. "We will fulfill a goal that grades of at least 'C plus' can be retaken. It will not be changed in a day. The solution to the course retaking system needs more consideration. Now we are concerned with tuition, but we will soon solve the course retaking system. One thing that we can say with confidence is that Yonseians can retake a course for several semesters," says Bae.

For whom is this course retaking system?

   Despite the confident statement of both the authorities and SA, the possibility of change to the course retaking system exists, and Yonseians should be uneasy. Of course it is not simple to solve this problem. Both attitudes have some reasons. However, the people most directly concerned are Yonseians and they are also victims. Under the uncertain situation, all of Yonseians are nervous and worry about their near future. Not only the school authorities and SA, but also Yonseians should have a desirable attitude regarding the course retaking system. If the school authorities are worrie about whether Yonseians would neglect studying because of the course retaking system, they are misunderstanding Yonseians, aren't they?

 "The new system may be applied to freshmen who will enter next year. It is  not yet a definite solution, but it may be a delightful news to many Yonseians."
 - An anonymous staff belonged to the school authorities

Items about course retaking system according to the 2003 and 2004 agreement
On 2003
▶ The course retaking system that is modified will be postponed for a while (do not start at once), and it is needed to organize the system improving team including representatives of students and the school authorities.
▶ The proposal about the new system should mention opening classes that consist only of students who are retaking the classes, and grading these students with an absolute evaluating system. Otherwise, the classes should be divided into students taking the class for the first or second time, and grade them separately. Especially the students who are retaking the class should be graded with an absolute evaluating system.
▶ The courses cancelled already should be replaced with alternative courses during the summer session.
▶ Students should be notified about courses that will be cancelled before the course application period.

On 2004
▶ The course retaking system will be modified by organizing the system improving team quickly.
▶ An evaluating system that is suitable to each class's character should be introduced.

Introduction of appropriate evaluating system according to a course's character
The following courses can apply to an absolute evaluating system.

▶ 4000 units classes with less than 20 students
▶ Classes taught in English
▶ Classes with less than ten students
▶ Classes opened by Div. of International Education      and Exchange
▶ Practical course that professor himself who teaches the subject do not grade students
▶ Practical course that makes cooperative research as a grading rule
▶ Teacher training course
▶ Everlasting education courses
▶ Practical course in Col. of Music

Educational View About the Course Retaking System
Kang Sang-jin
Prof. of Dept. of Education
  The course retaking system can offer a chance to students who received a bad grade by various reason such as lack of academic ability or individual circumstances. In particular, if the course is essential for students, it is necessary to give students that chance for real goal of studying. Although the course retaking system has lots of bad effects that every students know, it is useful system coincided with an educational purpose. However, it is needed to limit a condition of retaking, because it is unfair to student who studied hard but received bad grade,
compared to a student who did not make an effort and received same grade.

SPOTLIGHT
ONE DAY, while I was talking with my friend who is going to join the military, I heard his worry about the course retaking system. It was also an important issue for me, but I realized that this is a severe problem for male students like my friend. Because I did not know what was going on either, I decided to write a report about this issue. However, as with other Yonseians, I have had some difficulties getting information before speaking with the SA and the school authorities. Really, there is no exact information or notice anywhere.
At first, I just intended to report about the process of modifying the course retaking system. I believed the solution was in progress although it is not known to Yonseians. Yet while researching for this article, I felt uneasiness about the school authorities and SA's indolent attitude and changed my mind concerning this issue. All Yonseians are worrying about the course retaking system. However, what are they doing now? It is not today's problem. I wish for a quick and definite answer about the course retaking system from both of them. 
 <L.S.Y>


 

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