Academic Update for Instructors - 4/20

April 20, 2020

As we begin week four of remote teaching, it's worth repeating how proud the university is of its instructors. Thank you for all you are doing for our students.

When things get hard, it can be tempting for students to look for the easy way out. When it comes to their coursework, however, it's important for them to maintain academic integrity. We are sharing some tips with students to help them stay focused on an honest and successful academic path. Below are some tips and reminders for instructors to help support their students.

In addition, the university has expanded its Pass/No Pass policies to help alleviate some of the pressure students might be feeling right now.

Included in this email:

  • Summer Institute for Online Teaching – new
  • Academic probation and dismissal Spring 2020 – new
  • Academic support – reminder
  • Academic integrity – reminder
  • Pass/No Pass policy expansion – reminder

Summer Institute for Online Teaching

The Center for Transformational Teaching has reworked its Summer Institute for Online Teaching in light of current needs and will be offering it twice in May in condensed form — two weeks instead of five — and opening it to GTAs as well as faculty. The Institute guides instructors through course planning and developing pedagogically sound online courses and is useful for experienced online instructors, as well as those who will be teaching remotely for the first time. Registration has been extended until Wednesday, April 22.

Academic probation and dismissal Spring 2020

Undergraduate students who are struggling academically and have a term or cumulative GPA below 2.0 at the end of the Spring 2020 semester will be connected with an advisor who can provide academic support similar to what is available through the university's Academic Recovery Program. No students will be moved to probation or dismissed from the university as a result of grades earned for Spring 2020 semester. Students continuing on probation will participate in the Academic Recovery Program as usual. Eligible students can be removed from academic probation.

Academic support

It’s especially important in these unusual times to make sure students have the resources they need to succeed. If you have concerns about a student's academic performance, you can raise a red flag or make a referral to the Center for Academic Success and Transition through MyPLAN. CAST has created an easy-to-use resource to help you decide how and when you should use these tools. There's also an option to give kudos to students who are excelling academically. If you have concerns about a student's mental health and well-being, the Behavioral Intervention Team and Counseling and Psychological Services have separate resources that can help.

Academic integrity

As we draw closer to the end of a term that finishes exclusively with remote teaching, it is a great time to remind students about the university’s expectation that they complete their assignments and exams with academic integrity: to do their own work with honesty, to attribute correctly sources of information on which they rely, and to refrain from using any resources that you have not authorized. To help students, consider the following:

  • Clearly write out expectations for completing exams or assignments by identifying those resources that can and cannot be used.
  • Explain to what extent they can work with other students on assignments.
  • Include a reminder at the beginning of quizzes and exams that integrity and honesty are important to academic work. Some instructors require students to answer a question that commits them to be honest in their effort during the exam.
  • Use lockdown software that prevents students from accessing the web or other files on their computer during an exam.
  • Remind students that online study websites that provide homework solutions or course notes can have incorrect and unreliable information.

In the event you suspect a student has been academically dishonest, review Article III, Section B.1 of the Student Code of Conduct and the Faculty Senate Policy on Sanctions Related to Academic Integrity. After reviewing these polices, carefully collect and organize the information or evidence that lead you to suspect the student. Invite the student to discuss your concerns, and let them know before you meet that you need to talk about concerning indicators of alleged dishonesty. If multiple students are involved, meet with each student separately. If you conclude dishonesty has occurred, submit a report to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. You can always consult with SCCS about a case before you address it by contacting

Additional information is available in the Academic Misconduct TipSheet.

Pass/No Pass policy expansion

The university has expanded the opportunity for students to receive an earned letter grade or choose a Pass/No Pass option for courses taken in the Spring 2020 semester and have those courses that receive a P grade count toward degree requirements. Students will have until May 29 to switch any Spring 2020 course from a letter grade to Pass/No Pass and are required to consult with an advisor before doing so.

Undergraduate students: A detailed Q & A has been created with information about existing grading policies and the expansion for Spring 2020. Important details to note:

  • The standing policy that a P corresponds to a letter grade of C or better still holds.
  • The deadline of May 29 is for students to switch between letter grades and Pass/No Pass in either direction.
  • Students must consult with an advisor in order to switch to Pass/No Pass.

To make informed decisions about what grading system is the right choice for a course, students are encouraged choose traditional letter grades now and decide whether to switch to Pass/No Pass between when final grades are posted and May 29. For this reason, it is important for instructors to continue grading student work as usual, even if they learn that a student has switched to Pass/No Pass grading.

Graduate students: Guidelines have been posted on the Graduate Studies COVID-19 website about existing grading policies and the expansion for Spring 2020. Important details to note:

  • P grades may be used on a master’s program Memorandum of Courses or a doctoral Program of Studies. NP grades will not count toward degree requirements.
  • Students whose area of study is within the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Doctor of Plant Health, Master of Architecture or Juris Doctor programs will need to contact their program director or dean for more information about their grading policies.

To make this switch, students are required to consult with their major advisor about any possible consequences for employment, certification, licensure, admission to graduate or professional schools, or other circumstances that might be affected by choosing the Pass/No Pass option. Major advisors will then notify the Office of Graduate Studies of any changes from a letter grade to Pass/No Pass by contacting the master’s and doctoral program coordinators.