To: Liberal Arts Faculty, Graduate Students, and Post Docs
From: B. Richard Page
Date: April 30, 2020
I hope the last week of your semester is going as well as possible. This is normally a time of hope and joy for us and our students as we all look forward to summer and commencement. This year brings with it a heightened level of stress and anxiety – especially for students, as they prepare for finals, finish final assignments and, in some cases, complete their college careers in the midst of a global pandemic. Below is information about finals, academic integrity, and alternative grades to help you navigate the end of the semester with your students.
- Final examinations and other final assessments: All final exams will be administered at the originally scheduled time. Of course, this may create difficulties for students in different time zones. At your discretion, you may make arrangements for students to take an exam at an alternative time so long as students may still opt to take the exam at the originally scheduled time. To reduce the possibility of cheating, you should mute the exam in the Canvas grade book until all students have completed it. Below you will find a link to the university policy on scheduling final examinations as well as other resources for assessments.
- Academic Integrity: One consequence of the greater challenges that students are currently facing has been a steeper than usual rise in the number of academic integrity cases at the end of the semester. Students often commit academic integrity violations when they feel desperate, anxious, and stressed. Clear instructions and exam design can promote academic integrity and reduce violations. If you believe that a student may have committed an academic integrity violation, Policy G-9 requires that you follow the academic integrity process before reducing a grade or assessing any other academic penalty for the violation. Our college’s process is entirely online, and we handle all cases impartially. Below are links to further information about promoting academic integrity in your assessments and about the college’s academic integrity process.
- Things You Can Do to Promote Academic Integrity on Remote Assessments (same as above, but it bears repeating)
- Liberal Arts Policies and Procedures (includes links to academic integrity information for faculty and students)
- Academic Integrity Form for Reporting Violations
- Alternative Grades: As you are well aware, graduate and undergraduate students may opt for an alternative grade after they receive the traditional letter grade for a course. Faculty grades must be entered by May 19 because students may select alternative grades starting May 20. For cases in which deferred grades are changed to letter grades on or after May 20, a student may still petition for an alternative grade using an expedited process. It is my hope that the availability of alternative grades will help reduce the anxiety and stress of our students. The FAQ for undergraduate alternative grades was recently updated, so you may want to send the link below to your students so that they have accurate information about the availability and advisability of alternative grades. Students are also encouraged to have a conversation with their adviser about the new grading options and their particular academic situation so that they can make an informed choice that is in their best interest. Links to up-to-date information about alternative grading for undergraduate and graduate students are below.
- Updated FAQ on alternative grades for undergraduates: https://remotelearning.psu.edu/alternative-grading/
- Information on Optional Alternative Grading for Graduate Students
I wish you all a successful end to the semester. Thank you for your dedication to our students at a time when we are all dealing with additional stresses in our work and in our homes. The finish line is in sight. Take care and stay healthy!