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New grade policy weeds out ‘struggling’ students

Under a new policy, failing students will be forced to switch majors if they receive three D and/or F grades in any courses needed for biomedical sciences, biology, microbiology, chemistry or medical technology majors.

The policy, which was implemented this semester, also includes pre-medical sciences students who have not declared a major.

“The new policy arose from our concern for students who are not progressing in their major,” said Katharine Cole, assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We want to identify struggling students and help them find a new path for success.”

Patricia Muisener, assistant chair and instructor in the Department of Chemistry, said the policy opens up more seats for successful students.

“There are many high-demand courses in the sciences, and now seats won’t be filled by students who are retaking a course multiple times,” Muisener said.

Students who enter USF this semester and later subsequently earn three D’s and/or F’s in their major courses or courses supporting their major will be required to switch.

Continuing students with no D’s or F’s can earn up to three D or F grades before they are required to find a new major, while students who already have one or more D or F grades are only allowed two more.

Students forced to switch must choose a major outside the Department of Chemistry, Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology.

Cole said students can’t use grade forgiveness, which allows them to retake a course to replace a failing grade, to avoid changing majors.

“If a student fails and retakes a class multiple times, their chances of being successful are still small, because science builds on itself,” she said.

Cole said very few science majors who fail general biology and chemistry classes go on to graduate.

“I’ve seen students who have failed general biology seven times and biology II eight times,” Cole said.

Diane Te Strake, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, said the new policy benefits everyone.

“I think it will help struggling students get going in the proper direction instead of doing the same thing and expecting different results,” she said.

Students, who were notified of the new policy via e-mail and Blackboard, have mixed feelings about the change.

“I think it’s a good policy, because it will help people re-evaluate,” said Samantha Dedrick, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences. “I know people who did bad in classes and kept taking them and doing bad in them.”

Kendra Broomfield, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, said she isn’t worried about the policy but thinks it is unnecessary.

“Some students might just be having trouble, and they may be forced to pursue something they have no interest in,” Broomfield said.

Junior biomedical science major Sabair Pradhan said he was a little worried about the new policy, but it will motivate him to stay focused on his coursework.

“It’s good for a science major, because it’s hard to get into medical school with D’s or F’s anyway,” Pradhan said.