Academic Update for Instructors - 5/5

May 5, 2020

Congratulations! This was probably one of the most difficult semesters you have ever had and you have done an amazing job. Many of you have adjusted final projects and exams because of COVID-19 and this last week of grading may feel a little overwhelming. Thank you for all you have done to be flexible and nimble during these challenging times.

As you know, we still have students on campus, and many instructors have asked how they are doing during these stressful times. We hope you saw this story about how one particular Resident Assistant has gone above and beyond to support these students as they spend the remainder of the semester on campus.

Everyone at our great university has played an important part in helping our students to succeed and we look forward to continued success during summer session and fall semester.

Included in this email:

  • NU online instruction symposium – new
  • Emergency funding available for students – new
  • Grade appeals – new
  • Degree grades due May 8 – reminder
  • Incompletes, letter grades, P/NP – reminder

NU online instruction symposium

Even before the shift to remote instruction because of the coronavirus pandemic, technology has had a profound impact on higher education and it will continue to do so. On May 12, University of Nebraska Information Technology Services and University of Nebraska Online will present the Innovation in Pedagogy and Technology Symposium with nationally recognized keynote Thomas Thibodeau, an education consultant and virtual module content provider. The symposium will offer the opportunity to learn about successful online instruction strategies and initiatives created by instructors within the NU system and experience virtual hands-on workshops. View the agenda and register online.

Emergency funding available for students

Students who are in need of financial assistance because of campus disruption due to COVID-19 can request emergency funds through the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid. You can let your students know they can find the application to request assistance in MyRED under the Financial Aid tab. Funds are limited and will be reviewed as requests come in and will be prioritized based on the student’s socioeconomic circumstances.

Grade appeals

The university is anticipating a potential rise in grade appeals in response to remote instruction in Spring 2020. To meet our goal of keeping students on track for degree completion and allowing them to enroll in appropriate coursework during summer, we are asking instructors, departments and colleges to make grade appeals processes available promptly at the conclusion of each term, although historically grade appeal processes tend not to be active during summer.

Grade appeals committees are expected be available Summer 2020 to enable departments and colleges to quickly respond to student appeals with faculty oversight and leadership. UNL's administration and Faculty Senate together support a flexible approach in which academic leaders establish, in conjunction with their existing grade appeal committees, an expedited process to hear and respond to grade appeals during Summer 2020.

Note that this is a stopgap response to a unique situation to support student needs in this moment, not a new policy.

Degree grades due May 8

Graduation Services has notified undergraduate students who have received degree grades that are insufficient for graduation. For students with insufficient grades, a final grade in the course will be needed to clear them for graduation. Grades needed for graduation clearance must be received no later than 4:00 p.m. on May 8.

Please record all final grades in MyRED, if possible. If it is not possible to record a final grade by May 8, email registrar@unl.edu with the student’s name, NUID, the course, and final grade. If a Graduation Services staff member has been in direct contact with you regarding a grade, please reply by email to this staff member rather than by phone.

Incompletes, letter grades, P/NP

As we near the end of remote instruction for Spring 2020, we want to remind instructors to 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). In addition, instructors should not use incompletes for all students in an entire course. Each incomplete should be considered on an individual student basis where the student is not able to adequately complete the course requirements. If you find that a student's circumstances warrant an incomplete, you can find more information about using an I-form on the registrar website.

We also want to remind instructors to turn in letter grades as soon as possible, and certainly by the deadline, so students have sufficient time to meet with their academic advisors to decide whether or not to switch to a Pass/No Pass grading option before the May 29 deadline. We understand that grading may be more difficult this semester as you've had to readjust final projects and assessments. However, grading deadlines have not changed and students need time to make the best decisions possible for their academic goals.