As you think about how you can accommodate students who need to miss class for a medical reason, please consider:
- You have the option to not use lecture capture or Zoom technology but explain to your students why you feel these tools are inappropriate to the learning process in your course.
- You can use lecture capture and make the recordings freely available but still have a policy where unexcused absences negatively impact grades, explaining that viewing a recording is not the equivalent of engaging and participating in a live class session.
- You can use lecture capture, but release recordings only to students with excused absences. Information on how to do this is found under Actions.
- Whatever choice you take, you might candidly invite your students into a conversation about the advantages and disadvantages of the technology and how your experiences in the past two years shaped your choices.
- Remember that lecture capture is an opt in, so you will need to contact ATC to set up Echo360 and create controls around it. Find a link to the opt-in form under Actions.
Given the pace of our seven-week terms, our undergraduate students are regularly juggling multiple deadlines for their three courses. In addition, our graduate students are often juggling courses, research, and other pressures. Students have expressed this as a source of considerable stress and anxiety. While most faculty cannot abandon exams, lab reports, or problem sets, we might consider a few strategies that build flexibility into the schedule:
- Identify which assessment mechanisms are most essential and time-sensitive to your learning outcomes and prioritize those with clear and firm deadlines.
- For assessments that are necessary but less essential, consider allowing some flexibility: perhaps students finish five of seven labs over the term or submit low stakes work late twice over the term. Alternatively, if you assign quizzes across the term, you might allow students to drop their lowest quiz score.
- Consider the tempo of the term and where you can avoid deadlines, when you know students will have other time pressures. Some colleagues have opted to avoid high stakes midterms and finals and replace them with lowerstakes quizzes over the term.
- Consider the calendar; you might encourage students use their weekends to rest and re-center, by not assigning quizzes, exams, or paper deadlines on Mondays.
Even as we craft calendars that attempt to anticipate and accommodate the intensity of our term calendar, some students will submit work late. If past experience is any indication, fear of lost points is not the incentive that it once was. Penalties seem only to increase student anxiety and undermine their learning as the goal shifts to merely submitting the assignment rather than fully grasping the material. A learning-centered approach might convey the following:
- An explanation of why timely submission is necessary for keeping on track to cover necessary content and achieve course learning outcomes.
- Timely feedback is necessary not only to assign a grade but also to offer feedback to improve on future assessments.
- Explain your own needs and challenges with respect to grading.
- If you accommodate late submission, articulate the rational about any penalties.
- Note any accommodations for extenuating situations.
- Consider allowing students to submit late work once or twice over the term so they become equipped to manage their calendars and juggle priorities.
- Reinforce that if students are having difficulty consistently meeting deadlines, they can and should communicate with you.
The Morgan Center for Teaching and Learning has created an exceptional repository of example syllabus statements and model syllabi, drawn from WPI faculty colleagues. These can guide you as you set your own policies and find a voice to communicate them. Find these examples under Actions on this page.
There is also no doubt that as we experiment with creating courses that consider the various dimension of our students’ well-being, we will learn more about what works and what does not work. To learn from our collective successes and occasional missteps, the Mental Health Implementation Team (MHIT) has created an Educators’ Information Exchange using a Microsoft Teams site. This provides a curated forum on which to post your own experiences or learn from other efforts. In can be found here under Actions on this page.