Natural Sciences Council releases grade distribution program, just in time for registration

Allyson Waller

Registration starts this week for the 2018 spring semester, and a program offered by UT’s Natural Sciences Council, NSC, serves as a comprehensive tool to help ease the registration process for UT students.

This semester, NSC has updated their grade distribution program, which shows the letter grades students received in courses, so students considering that course know what to expect.

Located on their news website, Catalyst, the update makes it easier for users to navigate grade distributions among different courses available or previously available at UT. In the past few days, NSC’s grade distribution page, which now includes distributions from fall 2013 to spring 2017, has reached about 4,000 views, according to NSC technology coordinator Shishir Jessu. 

“Sometimes professors teach new courses, but they have taught other courses before, so you can look at (these) grades to kind of get a proxy for how they might grade,” said Jessu, a computer science and Plan
II sophomore. 

Jessu said compared to last year’s version, in which students could only use drop-down menus to search distributions, the updated search engine lets users manually search by course title, course number and professor name. The grade distribution program serves as a supplement to other online services that mainly rely on subjective student responses such as and UT’s Course Instructor Surveys, Jessu said. 

NSC issued FOIA requests to UT’s Office of the Vice President in order to obtain official semester grade distributions for the University.

Senate of College Councils’ Academic Policy Committee wants more student feedback about their registration experiences, co-chair Amrutha Sreedharane said. Registration is one of the biggest topics discussed among the academic policy committee, said Sreedharane.  

“Students don’t have access to a lot of the things they need when they’re looking at what classes to register for,” computer science junior Sreedharane said. “It’s really benefiting students, having (this) grade distribution analysis.” 

Radio-television-film junior Emily Dsida said comparing grade distributions for multiple classes taught by the same professor and seeing how many students a professor had in a specific course helps with registration.

“I see it as more of a reinforcement of whether or not I want to take a class,” Dsida said. “If I find a class that fits into my schedule, and people say the professor is interesting, seeing that a lot of people get A’s and B’s in that class is just another thing to push me toward (taking) the class.”