UMD Undergraduate Grading Policy and Evaluations

From Mary Ann Rankin, Senior Vice President and Provost

March 26, 2020

Grading and Evaluations:

For Spring 2020 only:

  • Grades for undergraduate classes will be on a pass/fail basis unless the student requests that a letter grade be recorded.
    • Faculty will need to record letter grades for all students as usual, but these will be converted to pass/fail on the transcript unless the student chooses to retain the letter grade.
    • Students will need to make this choice for each course for which they wish to receive a letter grade.
    • A web page is being created for this purpose. Once it is available, students will be directed to the site and informed that they have until the last day of spring semester classes to request letter grades.
    • Students will not normally have seen their grade for the class before they opt out of Pass/Fail grading.
    • More information on this process will be forthcoming as DIT completes the programming for this change. Students will be receiving a separate communication about the Pass/Fail decision.
    • Grading for graduate courses will likely be similar (S/F default with option to choose a letter grade), but details will follow separately.
  • At the University of Maryland, a Pass includes any grade above an F. Thus, the requirement for a C-minus or better in major, concentration, and General Education courses will be waived for the semester. Faculty should understand, however, that students who pass a class with a grade below a C-minus may not be as well prepared for subsequent courses that rely on prior knowledge of a subject as they normally are. It may be necessary in teaching future subsequent courses for faculty to be attentive to this potential change in preparation and adjust instruction and support accordingly. Particularly for faculty teaching courses that serve as basic prerequisites, the emphasis this semester should be on students learning the most essential content that will be most important for the next class.
  • Course evaluations will be available and collected for every course and will be administered as usual, but individual results will be made available only to the faculty member/course instructor. They will not be used for any type of personnel evaluation, including APT, nor will students be given access to individual evaluation results. We plan to add a few items to the survey to capture student perception of the current mode of instruction, hopefully to inform your practice. How (or whether) you view and use these results is entirely up to you and at your discretion. You will hear more about the implementation of this decision from the Office of Institutional Research, Planning and Assessment (IRPA) in the coming weeks.
  • Administration of a final exam will be at the discretion of the course instructor. Faculty may wish to place less emphasis on final exams than usual, given the challenges both students and instructors are facing with entirely online instruction.
  • The date to withdraw from a course with a "W" has been extended until the final day of spring classes, May 12, 2020.
  • Resources for students are available at keeplearning.umd.edu, and answers to frequently asked questions for students are available here.

Communication with Students:

It is necessary this week to resolve how each course will manage the transition to online instruction and to communicate with the students in your class regarding your online syllabus—which may be quite different from the original syllabus for the course. Please ensure that your new syllabus provides clear deadlines and other arrangements for participating in class and conveys high expectations for academic integrity. It should explain how you will:

  • Routinely communicate with your students
  • Distribute documents and readings
  • Collect student submissions
  • Manage class discussions

It should also explain:

  • How students are to access/watch class/lectures remotely
  • How you plan to hold office hours
  • What your methods will be for evaluating student learning in digital space
  • How you will provide students with grades and feedback

I remind you that information and support from DIT and TLTC can be found on the website: keepteaching.umd.edu. Most technology resources from the University are easily accessible remotely with an internet connection, but a few may require some set up. Please ensure that you understand what you will need and test your access to the necessary technology from off campus before you begin teaching remotely. The website keepworking.umd.edu may also be helpful. Our DIT experts strongly recommend against attempting synchronous course delivery, which is much more likely to have unanticipated technical problems at critical moments than short videos and other instructional materials for asynchronous class meetings. A synchronous chat session along with an asynchronous class experience, can be a good alternative to live video. If you do use synchronous delivery remember that this must be done at the normal course time.

If you need further assistance to prepare materials or otherwise get ready to teach online, DIT and TLTC have daily help sessions this week (see keepteaching.umd.edu), 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., or you can call 301.405.1500 or email keepteaching@umd.edu.

Tenure timeline

On another matter, deans and chairs have been receiving questions about how the changes and restrictions we are experiencing will affect the timeline for tenure at UMD. The deans and I are still discussing details of implementation with the Office of Faculty Affairs, but we do expect to allow a one-year extension of the pre-tenure period if a faculty member currently in his/her pre-tenure years requests it. More details on this matter will follow soon.

Faculty activity reporting

We have extended the deadline for faculty reports through Activity Insight/Digital Measures to April 24, 2020. Resources to facilitate your ability to complete your reports are available here. You may also contact ai-help@umd.edu or call 301.405.7681 for additional help.