Update from Provost Aaron J. Kuecker, March 20, 2020
Thank you for all that you have done this week to prepare for our launch of online-only learning next week. As the week draws to its close, I wanted to write with one additional brief update. Here are a few things to know about or consider as we prepare to launch our distance delivery on Monday.
Communicate with your students your plan for “office hours.”
I have heard that some faculty plan to keep regular hours when they might be available for video conferences via Microsoft Teams. I have also heard that some faculty are planning to communicate that their availability will be through increased email responsiveness. Either is fine – but whatever direction you select, please reassure students that you are accessible to them as they progress through your courses. Our goal, at every step, is for students to know they are supported and surrounded by webs of care.
Grades are a very complex issue in this context.
We are working to implement a practice for this semester only in which students have increased ability to select Pass/Fail as a grading option in a limited number of their courses. This will not affect your grading practices, as Pass/Fail will be requested directly through the Registrar’s Office. You will assign a letter grade and the Registrar will either transcript the grade or transcript Pass/Fail. This policy will be intended to ensure that students are not adversely impacted by a situation they did not choose or by personal factors outside of their control.
There are some circumstances in which a student may be well-served to choose P/F, and there are some circumstances in which it may not be advantageous. We are working on a communication plan that helps students make that choice well (and in limited cases). There are also some courses/programs in which P/F is not an option – such as programs with GPA requirements for progression. We will be in touch with these programs to consider alternative ways to support our students.
There will be more info to come on this policy, and it goes without saying that decisions like this have many layers of complexity. Most basically, though, this is one facet of our attempt to work toward equity across a wide range of student circumstances. This policy will not be communicated to students until a variety of details are put into place. Meanwhile, now is a time to operate with a heavy measure of grace. All of us, faculty and students alike, are in uncharted territory.
Students will have dedicated student success coaches.
Over the weekend, students will receive communication that introduces them into an initiative whereby every single Trinity student, whether Graduate, Adult Undergraduate, or Traditional Undergraduate, is assigned a dedicated student success coach. I will share details of this program with you after it has been communicated to students. Thanks to the Student Life and Athletics Team for quickly mobilizing to implement this high-touch program designed to maintain relational contact and provide numerous types of support.
You have avenues of support for your online teaching.
Three Microsoft Teams-based online pedagogy discussion groups are staged and will be launched by our office on Monday. We have capacity to support and launch additional groups, if you are interested. In addition, we are keeping a real-time eye on this form, which allows you to indicate your interest in an online teaching group or to identify particular needs that you have. You may fill out form as often as you like, as needs arise. The goal of the Provost’s Office is to support you in whatever way possible – so please let us know when you run into a need for support. I’ll remind you, too, of the key resources for online instruction we have compiled and made available to you via this linked Box folder. Our IT department has compiled an Online Collaboration Resource as well.
May the God of all peace grant you a surprising amount of peace this weekend. And may God grant us, as members together in the great family of God that spans time and place, to set our hope firmly in Jesus Christ. We are, each one of us, in God’s care.Peace,
Aaron Kuecker, Provost
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