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Are Midterm Grades Necessary?

There have been discussions amongst faculty members about the importance or relevance of posting midterm grades. Midterm grades are given by professors to allow students to access their work that has been complete in the first part of the semester. These grades appear on the Monmouth student portal and are email to all students. 

Midterm grades differ from midterm exams in that they take all the assignments of the first half of the semester into account. The editorial staff of The Outlook decided to weigh in on the topic of midterm exams and midterm grades that accompany them.

The majority of the editors said that they have professors that do not issue midterm exams. Some professors assign an essay, while others base the midterm grade on the completed assignments of the semester. 

“If not a midterm exam, all of my professors have given assignments of equal weight to base a midterm grade off of,” said an editor.

On the contrary, three editors said that they have had editors that have not even issued them midterm grades.

University policy states that for undergraduate students, midterm grades are only provided online. 

“In two cases I did not receive midterm grades. However, the professors attributed this to submitting them too late, not that they didn’t believe in midterm grades,” said an editor.

The editors also agreed that it is beneficial to have multiple assignments before the midterm period, if the course style allows it. These assignments not only allow the students to further understand the material, but they also make the midterm and final exams worth less of the total class points. 

“I think that there isn’t really a benefit to giving a midterm exam or paper. Rather than having one thing be weighted that heavily, I prefer having several assignments scattered throughout the semester,” an editor said.

“The more exams or assignments the professor gives, the more opportunities you have to increase your grade. It’s hard to boost your grade when a professor only gives a midterm and final,” said another editor. 

One editor sees midterms simply as a college staple, a cumulative look on the semester so far. 

“Midterm exams usually are cumulative for the first half of the semester, as a symbolic ritual of every college. The benefits to having a midterm exam are a form of closure for the content already learned,” the editor said. “As for papers, I could do without those.”

All of the editors have had professors that utilize the grade posting features of eCampus and professors that do not post any grades on the student portal.

This can cause confusion when students are looking for feedback and their standings in the class. For professors that do not post every assignment grade online, the editors agreed that midterm grades are essential. 

“I’ve had many experiences where my professors do not use the online grade book in eCampus, which makes the official midterm grade even more crucial,” said one editor. “Seeing the midterm grades are more important when a professor does not use the online grade book. Otherwise, you’re just guessing what your grade is, which can be very stress-inducing,” continued the editor.

“I like seeing the midterm grade to get a confirmation of where I currently stand in a course. Also, I’ve had many experiences where my professors do not use the online grade book in eCampus, which makes the official midterm grade even more crucial,” said an editor. 

Another reason why students may feel concerned about seeing a midterm grade is due to professors giving midterm exams. 

One editor finds it beneficial when professors give midterm exams, “I think there are benefits to midterm exams if the final exam isn’t cumulative because then it breaks up the year for students so that it isn’t as overwhelming.”

When the staff was asked if they check their midterm grades for each class, the responses were split. Some said that they never look at their midterm grades, while other look to them as a progress report. 

“I personally don’t need a midterm grade. I know it’s usually inaccurate. What really matters is the final grade,” said one editor. 

“I always look at my midterm grades, it helps me determine what I am doing right or wrong, and what I can improve upon,” another editor said. 

All in all, the editors of The Outlook think that midterm grades are beneficial in some form, even though midterm exams were not popular. 

“Like with everything in life, you want to see where you’re at in terms of progress in the middle, so nothing surprises you towards the end,” one editor said.