Academic Update for Instructors

March 17, 2020

As promised, the EVC Office is sharing answers to questions, clarifications about policies, and revised guidelines as it receives answers from the academic planning subgroup of the COVID-19 Task Force. Below are the latest updates from the group.

Included in this email:

  • Incompletes - reminder
  • Video services - new
  • Teaching buddy - new
  • CTT resources - new
  • CAS Teaching Academy virtual office hours - new

Incompletes

As the university moves to remote access learning, instructors may receive student requests for incompletes. The policy on incompletes, as approved by the Faculty Senate and posted on the University Registrar website, states: "[a]n instructor uses the grade of an 'I' (Incomplete) at the end of a term to designate incomplete work in a course. It should be used only when the student was/is unable to complete the requirements of the course because of illness, military service, hardship, or death in the immediate family. A grade of 'I' should be given only if the student has substantially completed the major requirements of the course."

Instructors should use incompletes sparingly and only in the most extraordinary circumstances (e.g. a student is self-isolated or self-quarantined and does not have access to the internet). Incompletes can create an undue burden on students and instructors in subsequent semesters and can delay students’ academic progress. This is particularly true when the incomplete continues for more than one semester after the semester in which the course was taken.

In addition, instructors should not use incompletes for all students in an entire course. Each incomplete should be considered on an individual student basis and only used in extreme circumstances where the student is not able to adequately complete the course requirements. It is not a grade that an instructor should assign simply due to the university’s move to a remote format for the semester. Requirements related to certification and accreditation are being managed at the department and college level, and instructors concerned about such requirements should consult with their unit leadership.

If an incomplete must be assigned, please ensure the following:

  • The majority of the course work is completed (please consult with your unit as to what is customary for your unit; for example, some units use a threshold of 80% or more completed with a passing grade). If that’s not the case, a late withdrawal is a better alternative. The university has extended the deadline to withdraw from a course to April 24.
  • You have worked with the student to develop a written communication plan with a timeline for work that still needs to be turned in, the date by which it must be completed, and the grade that will be assigned if this work is not completed.

Video services

University Communications is available to provide guidance on video recording of lectures in unique situations (e.g., if instructors need to show something more carefully than just starting a camera and talking, such as lab demonstrations). Instructors who are interested in learning more about this resource should reach out as soon as possible to David Fitzgibbon at dfitzgibbon1@unl.edu and Mary Jane Bruce at mbruce1@unl.edu.

Teaching buddy

Instructors are encouraged to identify a back-up or "teaching buddy" in case they are unable to complete their remote instruction to students.

CTT resources

The Center for Transformative Teaching continues to add information to its Keep Teaching resources and has added an Assessment Guide for instructors.

Registration is open for a one-week course during spring break to help instructors through some of the more common issues and unique challenges of remote teaching.

The center has also added to its Teaching at UNL course in Canvas to include discussions on how instructors will be teaching their in-person courses remotely.

CTT Instructional designers and CAS Teaching Academy Fellows will offer sessions on moving courses to remote instruction. These sessions are open to all instructors and no registration is necessary.

CAS Teaching Academy virtual office hours

CAS Teaching Academy Fellows are hosting virtual office hours to discuss ways to approach the many varied challenges instructors face as they transition to remote teaching.