Gaudino option sees continued popularity

For the past two years the College has offered students a curricular choice called the Gaudino option, which allows students to take a course where the earned grade is excluded from their transcript. The Gaudino option is currently in a five-year experimental pilot phase.

Edward Burger, professor of mathematics and Gaudino scholar, initiated the program. Burger, who is currently on leave and employed at Baylor, found that 81 percent of students who answered a survey said that they avoided taking certain classes for fear of worsening their grades.

Mary Morrison, associate registrar for records and registration, said that 91 students used the Gaudino option last fall and that 50 students have declared it for this spring. However, she emphasized that this data should not be analyzed quite yet because the program has only been in place for two years.

Morrison also said that the Gaudino option was used most frequently to take Div. II courses and used less to take Div. III courses. This is not a surprising statistic, as it is directly related to the proportions of students who generally enroll in those divisions. There were initial concerns that the option would cause students to be unmotivated in their Gaudino-designated courses. To address this concern, Burger, along with other faculty members, modified how students can qualify for an invocation of the Gaudino option. If a student receives a grade of B- or higher or a grade in the course that is .67 less than his GPA and the instructor determines the student to be “intellectually present,” then the student can invoke the Gaudino option. However, if either one of these requirements are absent, the grade will remain on the student’s transcript.

In March 2010, faculty members voted to implement the Gaudino option, which passed with a vote of 57 to 29. “Initially, some faculty members were opposed to the option. Some didn’t even allow the Gaudino option in their courses. However, after the introduction of the option, I haven’t heard much negative feedback,” Morrison said.

After the five-year experiment, the Committee on Educational Policy (CEP) will collect the data and examine the effectiveness of the Gaudino option and judge whether it should become a permanent policy at the College.

Burger, who is currently serving as vice provost for strategic educational initiatives at Baylor, said, “I have heard from students how great it has been for them, allowing them to craft a more meaningful education.”