| by Suzanne Gurland

Faculty

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I hope this finds you staying home and staying safe. As the end of this extraordinary semester approaches, I write to share information regarding grading policy and practices, the calendar for the final Monday, and exam period.

Grading policy and practices

Nearly 300 of us (perhaps a record!) attended Friday’s faculty meeting, where a vote was taken on the temporary grading policy for this semester. Faculty will submit letter-grades for all students in all courses. For students who have opted for Credit/No-Credit grading for particular courses using a form made available by the registrar, the registrar’s office will convert the letter grade to a CR (credit) for any grade of D or better, and to a NCR (no credit) for any grade of F. Students will have until May 8 to opt in to Credit/No-Credit grading for any of their courses, and will have from May 9 to May 19 to revoke any of those decisions.

Although you have likely been providing your students with ample feedback all semester, many students will be interested in summary feedback or perhaps even a provisional grade in the first week of May to help them decide whether to opt for Credit/No-Credit grading or not. You are in the best position to know what kind of feedback is appropriate for your courses and will best help students make informed decisions.

Calendar for Final Monday

Some of you have asked whether Monday, May 11 will remain a “virtual Friday,” as originally advertised in the undergraduate calendar. Yes, please observe a Friday schedule on May 11 (and remind your students, as needed). For those who are curious about the reasoning: The original intent was to replace the Friday “lost” to Spring Symposium, which then had to be cancelled. However, many classes did not meet last Friday when the symposium would have taken place, and many of you will have planned your syllabi to accommodate a “double-Friday” ending to the semester.

Exam Period

Some of you have written to ask what exam period will look like this semester. I’ve shared below how exam period will be the same as in a more typical semester, and also how it will or could be different this semester.

What’s the same this semester?

The registrar’s office has shared the exam shell (at bottom of this page), as always, that ties each course meeting time to a particular exam slot. This ensures that students do not have overlapping exams, and that they have time in between any scheduled exams. As always, students who work with the Disability Resource Center should have been in communication with you regarding their approved accommodations. And as always, Commons Deans can alter students’ exam schedules in the circumstances described at the bottom of this page in the academic handbook. 

What’s different this semester?

For reasons of fairness and access, you are probably already considering options other than a traditional, scheduled, timed exam. For example, you might be considering open-book, open-note, self-scheduled, or “take-home” exams, or perhaps a final paper or other options that don’t require students to be present online at a prescribed time. The challenge, as always, is finding ways of assessing student learning that are fair to all and that make it reasonable for students to honor their commitment to academic integrity. 

Like the timeslot for your course this semester, your exam slot is designed to avoid scheduling conflicts for students. For that reason, if you do end up needing students to be in attendance online at a specific time, please use only your assigned slot. If you instead find asynchronous means of assessing student learning, please continue to be attentive to students’ time, recognizing that they are juggling multiple courses and are in circumstances not conducive to their best concentration.

Many thanks to you all for rising to the extraordinary challenges this semester continues to pose. Maybe you’re looking around this semester, like I am, and being reminded that this is one more example of the storied excellence of Middlebury’s faculty. 

 

Be well,

Suzanne Gurland
Dean of Curriculum and Professor of Psychology