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Formula for (Avoiding) Disaster: Solutions in the Chem Department

The Science and Math Building with gray clouds in the sky
Photo by Aminah Jenkins

A few weeks ago, I published an article entitled “Formula for Disaster: Issues with the Chemistry Department.” One of my majors is Chemistry, and while talking with my academic advisor last week the article came up. My advisor, Dr. Sasha Ormond, is the head of the Chemistry Department. Through my conversation with her, I learned that some of the things published in my original article were not accurate. The aim of this article is to correct those mistakes and share Dr. Ormond’s take on the issues students shared in the original article.

First and foremost, Dr. Ormond shared that she was not aware of a significant increase in students failing chemistry courses last semester. The DFW (D grade, F grade, and Withdrawal) rates were no higher or lower last semester than they have been in previous years. The Winter Course that my original article suggested was implemented as a result of increased failure rates was in fact started a few years ago to help students through the COVID -19 pandemic and because the Chemistry department was thinking about starting to offer Chemistry classes during a “minimester” in January. While this hasn’t happened yet, the winter retake opportunity has existed for a few years and was not created because of decreased success rates among students.

Dr. Ormond also shared that Meredith has used American Chemical Society (ACS) exams as the final exams for Chemistry classes consistently because of how efficient they are at testing students’ understanding of Chemistry courses and concepts at large. The ACS exams are written and revised over a period of two years to ensure they provide the best examination possible. Additionally, while professors have told students that they are graded compared to how everyone else in the country did on the same exam, that’s only partially true. While the Chemistry department does look at how their students do compared to the students across America, Meredith students are graded purely against other Meredith students from previous semesters. Finally, while the Gen Chem II course at Meredith doesn’t cover everything on the ACS exam (as was stated in the original article) the curve placed on all exams before they’re put into the gradebook more than covers the few points lost because of this.

Corrections for previously-published Herald articles can be sent to or submitted on the Meredith Herald website under the “Submit a Tip” page.

By Clary Taylor, News Editor


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