April 2 Message from the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies

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To: Liberal Arts Faculty, Graduate Students, and Post Docs
From: B. Richard Page
Date: April 2, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As you are well aware, our students are facing many challenges during a semester like no other. Below is information about alternative grades, a workshop on supporting students in our courses, and the use of Starfish to identify students having difficulty in the remote learning environment.

    • Alternative grades: In recognition of the disruption in student’s lives and education during the pandemic, students will have the opportunity to choose alternative grades this year. The alternative grades for undergraduate students are SAT(satisfactory) for a C or better, V (pass) for a  D, and Z (no grade) for an F, and they will not affect the student’s GPA. You can find FAQs on alternative grades for both undergraduate students and graduate students at https://remotelearning.psu.edu/alternative-grading/.

As the instructor, you will give the student a traditional letter grade. Once the letter grade assigned by the instructor has been posted, the student will then have the option of replacing the traditional letter grade with the appropriate alternative grade. The instructor is not involved in the selection of the alternative grade. Students are 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. 

    • Starfish: Your participation in last week’s Starfish survey identified many students who are currently not attending class or having connectivity issues. Thank you! You can use Starfish at any time to raise a warning about a student using the flag button or to provide positive feedback with the kudos button. You can find step-by-step instructions at https://pennstate.service-now.com/sp?id=kb_article&sys_id=c59d84824f144f0409d02ae6f110c72f. The flag button on Starfish is a useful tool that will alert both the student and the student’s adviser that you are concerned about a situation such as poor attendance, and it provides the adviser with an opportunity to offer help to the student and ascertain what other issues might be at play.
    • Workshop on student support: Much of the discussion in last week’s workshop focused on the need to provide students with additional support in the current learning environment. This week there will be a workshop on student support at 2 pm on Friday, April  3.  The workshop will be conducted via Zoom and hosted by the Liberal Arts Teaching Group. 

Thank you for supporting our students in the face of many different challenges.

Thanks as always to the Liberal Arts Teaching Group for organizing these workshops.



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