Grades show University of Waikato students fared well through Covid-19 lockdown

30 September 2020

Students walking

An analysis of the grades of University of Waikato students has shown that overall, students have fared well despite the disruption to their learning over the Alert Level 4 lockdown.

In marking and moderating assessments for A Trimester, the University took into account the unanticipated and challenging circumstances experienced by many students due to Covid-19.

This involved applying an automatic ‘impaired performance’ criteria across all students and  comparing each student’s grades from A Trimester 2020 to their average grades in 2019, or if they were a new student, comparing their grades to the paper average seen in previous years.

Grades were scaled up if there was a change in a student’s performance which did not fairly reflect their effort and capability. There was a particular focus on students who were close to passing or failing a paper, and an additional grade reconsideration process for students who were impacted by Covid-19 to a greater extent than their peers.

Results show that pass rates increased from an average of 87% in A Trimester 2019 to an average of 88.8% in A Trimester 2020. The overall Grade Point Average of students increased from 4.82 in 2019 (equivalent to a B-) to 5.43 in 2020 (equivalent to a B).

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, Professor Robyn Longhurst, says the University worked hard to ensure students were not at a disadvantage because of Covid-19.

“We are very proud of the efforts of our students this year. It has not been easy and their commitment to learning, their resilience, in what has been a tough time both personally and with their studies is really something to be celebrated.”

Professor Longhurst also credits the efforts of staff members in supporting students for the positive outcome in grades.

“Over lockdown more than 200 staff volunteers phoned all 10,000 students to check on their welfare and what support they needed, and 260 Chromebooks and 129 internet connections were provided to students who needed them to access learning resources.”

Additional support included freezing accommodation payments for Halls students, so they could concentrate on adjusting to learning remotely, without worrying about their finances.

Waikato Students’ Union President Kyla Campbell-Kamariera says it was important to advocate for students and assist the University in the decision making processes, especially around grading mechanisms.

“When the world almost stopped the University, staff and students carried on and the resilience shown by all is something to be proud of.

“The University was quick to respond to the needs of students and the WSU was the vehicle that guaranteed tauira voices were being heard at a senior leadership level.

“Positive leadership ensured that we built a stronger coalition across the University and it’s seen in the effects of the support received during lockdown and thereafter,” says Kyla.

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