In this time of uncertainty and stress, schoolwork cannot be the first priority for many students or faculty. Penn has already allowed students to mark some or all of their classes as pass/fail if they so choose before April 13. Additional changes supported by some students include easing requirements for assignments and exams, extending deadlines, and finding creative ways to accommodate entire classes in virtual classrooms. Many faculty members have already instituted such policies. Here are 10 of our favorites.
Kristen Ghodsee, Population and Public Health in Eastern Europe, REES159 — Ghodsee has turned lectures into podcasts so students can listen to them on walks or runs outside. She is also encouraging students to take her course pass/fail. "If the University is not going to make this decision [universal pass/fail], then I can encourage students to do it to put their minds at ease. I really think this is an unprecedented situation, and to carry on business as usual is really unfair and in some ways extremely anxiety producing," said Ghodsee. She also said she will support students who want to research the coronavirus for their final projects, as the pandemic is relevant to the course topic.
Loren Goldman, American Political Thought, PSCI 183 — Goldman has alleviated student stress by canceling his course’s final exam and encouraging students to take advantage of the pass/fail option for the class. He has also made all course materials available online as some students can't get textbooks from their dorms.
Francisco Fernández, Intermediate Spanish I, SPAN 130 — For language classes that meet four or five times every week, the move online can be challenging, but not impossible. Fernandez, for example, has replaced his exams with weekly quizzes and other small assignments. He has also removed multiple creative projects that are no longer feasible to accomplish.
Henry Han, Introduction to Management, MGMT 101 — Han is replacing the course's final exam with a "mini final exam exercise" where students will write their own exam questions for future students of the class to use.
Jonathan Scott Enderle, Introduction to Programming for Humanities, ENGL 209 — Professors such as Enderle have discussed “contract grading”, which involves a more personalized learning plan for each student. Enderle plans to hold weekly meetings with students to check in and communicate on an individual basis.
James Ker, Ancient Rome, ANCH 027 — Ker has introduced a mandated one-time check-in for students to communicate with the course’s teaching assistant. He has also moved the class’ final exam to an open-book format, and reduced its weight for the final grade from 30% to 15%. “We have done everything we can to ensure that your grade will not be unduly impacted by these extraordinary circumstances,” he wrote in a Canvas message to the class.
Toorjo Ghose and Aaron Levy, Art and Social Work: Art and the Ecology of Justice, FNAR 316 — The professors told students they will receive at least an A- as a final grade. They also told students to turn assignments in as they are able to, emphasizing that students should focus on staying safe.
Dorothy Kronick, U.S. Intervention in Latin America, PSCI 250 — As classes shift online, professors who record lectures in advance have offered assistance to students who might not be able sit down and listen right away. “On Monday, I said that lectures would be available for 24 hours. Instead, they will be available for 72 hours,” Kronick wrote to her class. “I have also posted audio-only versions of the lectures. These should be easier to load for those of you with slow internet."
Herman Beavers, Toni Morrison and the Adventure of the 21st Century, ENGL 101 — Beavers has canceled one of the course’s midterms and group projects, originally slated to be due soon after spring break. He has also combined a subsequent paper with what was going to be the final exam to eliminate one additional assignment.
Nicole Rust, Seminar in Perception: Visual Processing, PSYC 417 — To better fit an online course format, Rust has shifted her seminar from programming exercises to self-guided assignments focused on understanding and describing quantitative material. However, she is also giving students a chance to make up the original material if they so wish. "For anyone who is disappointed about the loss of specific learning opportunities," she wrote to the class, "reach out to me ASAP and I will be happy to discuss a tailored curriculum for you."
Editorials represent the majority view of members of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. Editorial Board, which meets regularly to discuss issues relevant to Penn's campus. Participants in these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on related topics.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.