Here at NWU, we are required to give our freshmen (and I use the term advisedly) students some sort of grade report during about the 8th week of the semester. We're also required to give all students some evaluative information by the fourth week of classes (that can take many forms, quizzes, short papers, and so forth).
Giving midterm grade reports adds extra math to my life. I don't especially dislike math, but if I have to figure out midterm grades for, say, 30 students, that's not insignificant.
According to the powers that be, students do better in college (that is, they stay from first to second year, and eventually graduate; that's how we count success at the most basic level) when they get midterm grade reports. So the practice is demonstrated to contribute to student success.
A request has come from the students that we give both freshmen and sophomores midterm grade reports.
The rationale are interesting. There's the argument that getting midterm grade reports in the sophomore year will help students in the transition to college. And there's the argument that since many students come in with significant college credits, they aren't classified by the university as "freshmen" during the second semester of their first year, and so don't get grade reports even for their full first year. (Thus the importance of the category "freshman" distinct from "first year.")
I'm sort of torn. Yes, I'm pro-student success, really. But, I want students to transition to college more fully. Part of that transition involves learning to keep track of one's work and learning to do basic percentages. I think those are valuable and important skills, and shouldn't be underrated. Maybe it's the old Peace Corps, "teach a man to fish" thing, but I think that being able to keep track of work and manipulate basic percentages is useful in ways way beyond the college experience.
Then there's time. Let's imagine, for a moment, that it takes five minutes for someone to do the math on a midterm grade. Adding, say 20-30 sophomores to my calculations means I get to spend an extra hour and a half or two calculating midterm grade reports. I keep fairly busy in life, and I haven't yet found a way to add hours to the week, so before I jump to do this, I want to know where I'm going to get an extra hour or so in my week in the middle of the semester. Time is a zero sum game, and I spend a fair bit more than 40 hours working in any given week during the semester, so adding an hour means I don't do something else for that hour.
(I have it "easy" for this calculation because I teach writing type courses with relatively smaller enrollments, 30 rather than 60 students on average. Double the numbers for colleagues in some departments. And, of course, the nursing folks won't much be affected, since they have almost no freshmen or sophomores; same for education departments. If you serve general education in a big way, you'll be sucking it up.)
Now, let's imagine that your average sophomore is taking 4-5 courses, and takes five minutes to calculate the midterm grade for each. That's 20-25 minutes of the student's time. It's not that the time should be any different overall, just that it gets spread over a lot more people. And the student who cares learns how to think about numerical data and such, or reinforces that knowledge. (And, of course, they also save time because they don't have to email the information to the student. Part of the system automatically forwards some information to advisors, too, so we don't have to deal with that on the other end.)
I'm curious about what happens at other schools with grade reporting at midterm. Do you do them? For which students?
Does anyone have research that talks about midterm grade reporting and student success that they could suggest?
And as advisors, what do you do with grade reports you get for advisees?