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Columnist Allison Baxter argues that there should be more consistency in courses that are taught by multiple professors to ensure fairer grading for students. 

Two students taking the same class with different professors receive different grades. One could blame it on the student’s work ethic, but most times, it’s the professor’s level of expectations that determines the student’s grades. 

Attendance, participation and weighted assignments are some of the many things that can skew a student’s grade up or down a letter. This can happen even though he or she may put in the same amount of work as another student in a different class. If the two classes were structured the same, then there would be more equality in grade averages. 

For example, Student 1 chooses the professor with the highest score on Rate My Professors. The professor is a great lecturer, and class is never boring. However, the professor is also a strict grader and gives lots of assignments. Student 1 ends with a C-minus.

Student 2 chooses the professor that had the last open class. This professor is a very dull lecturer. However, this professor never takes attendance and only assigns three take-home exams. Student 2 ends with an A- minus.

This is a common situation most students face in general education and introductory major classes. Student 1’s professor didn’t offer a participation grade, and all exams were short answer. Student 2’s professor gave extra credit for attendance and provided a study guide for the multiple choice final. Both students are learning the same material and studying the same amount, but one is being graded differently than the other.

This is a problem because it not only damages a student’s GPA, it also unfairly represents the level of knowledge the student obtained from a class.

Another issue with different professors teaching the same class is that some professors might gain a reputation of being easy or  tough.

Every enrollment period is a race to register for the class with the easiest professor as determined by friends or Rate My Professors. This ends up leaving some students with no choice but to register for the only class left with a professor that holds students to a higher standard. 

The solution should be to enforce a consistent class structure across the different sections so that every student is completing the same assignments and has an opportunity to be graded fairly. This class structure should include grade weight, assignment style and a rubric for grading. This would also make it easier on professors because they wouldn’t have to spend extra time creating their own rubrics. Professors will still be able to teach the class in their own style, but must give the same assignments. 

Ultimately, making sure different professors that teach the same class follow a corresponding structure would lead to decreased favoritism, more availability of classes and accurate GPA representation. 

Allison Baxter is a junior media arts and design and communication studies major. Contact Allison at baxte2ae@dukes.jmu.edu