Science Court ramping up for its 4th year

2022 Science Court

Grading is harmful, ineffective and outdated, it's time to change UMN student assessment

The pandemic upended all aspects of our lives, especially academia and its effects on students. For this year’s case, Science Court partnered with the UMN Student Senate. The two groups will discuss the Student Senate’s approved resolution requesting an extension of UMN policy allowing students to opt for S/N grading in any course due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Science Court case generalizes this to a full reevaluation of how students are assessed at UMN. Because there has been an increase student mental health concerns, scholastic dishonesty facilitated by the internet and social media, and the rise of remote learning, this is a timely topic.

Science Court will consider student assessment holistically exploring what is known from scientific research in domains of knowledge informing this topic and propose two main strategies for the Student Senate to consider; a Refine approach keeping the current grading system but addressing some of its limitations versus a Reform approach in which grading is replaced by alternative means of student assessment. After the trial, the findings will be reviewed by the Student Senate and voted on as a resolution. If passed, the resolution will go to the UMN administration. This could potentially create a path for Science Court to affect university policy.

For more information and updates on this year’s case, visit


Science Court is a project designed to combat polarization in American society and strengthen democracy. It is run as an interdisciplinary course in the University of Minnesota Honors Program involving students from across the university. The students select a controversial issue and spend an entire semester studying it in depth to determine the facts (based on sound scientific research) and then argue it in a mock trial in front of a jury of citizens with a mix of views and backgrounds. The public is engaged through compelling audio, video and online content generated by the students about the preparations, trial and verdict. The trial is open to the public.


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