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Continuity Guidelines

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Instructional Continuity Guidelines

Spring 2020

Syllabi

Instructors have the flexibility at this time to modify certain aspects of their syllabi, specifically: 

  • modifying assignments and which assignments will be counted towards the final grade
  • the schedule for exams and due dates for projects, assignments, and other assessments  
  • the grading criteria and procedures to be used
  • However, additional assignments may not be added.

Instructors should provide to students, no later than April 3, a schedule for the remaining assignments and any modifications in the required work and grading procedures that will be used. It is important for students to be made aware of all course modifications so that they can plan the remainder of the semester. Instructors are encouraged to provide a modified syllabus as soon as is feasible, but no later than April 3.

We understand that there is a need for flexibility throughout the rest of the semester, but we ask that instructors keep students updated along the way as they discover what is and what is not feasible. Communication is critical.

Grading Policy

After consultation with academic leadership and the Deans, we are enacting an important change to our Grading Policy on the Norman Campus (and Norman Campus programs in Tulsa) for the Spring 2020 semester. Effective immediately, all undergraduate and graduate students will be permitted (but not required) to convert any course to pass/no-pass grading; the College of Law is developing a grading policy appropriate to its programs. All courses for which students receive passing (P) grades will count toward degree requirements, overriding some departmental or college policies. At the end of the semester, all instructors will submit letter grades to the Registrar’s office. Students will have seven days after the date on which final grades are posted to elect pass/no-pass grading. In recognition that the learning experience offered in each course will be different, there is no limit on the number of courses students can convert to pass/no-pass grading. Students can make the decision on a course-by-course basis. At the undergraduate level, all grades of D or better in a course will convert to P (Pass). At the graduate level, all grades of C or better in a course for which students elect the pass/no-pass grade will convert to P (Pass). We are working through the logistical details of this process right now, and further guidance about how this may affect uploading grades will be communicated to you in the coming weeks.

  • Faculty should continue to use their current grading system. Minor modifications to accommodate for the transition to remote instruction are allowed.
  • Faculty should not adjust their grading system to a P/NP system.
  • Faculty will submit the Letter Grade earned in the course to the Registrar’s Office. The technical aspects of this process are still being developed. We are working to limit the impact on faculty effort in submitting Letter Grades if a change in process is needed.
  • Students will elect to have the Letter Grade replaced by a P or NP based on the Letter Grade in the course after the grades are posted. The technical aspects of this process are still being developed. We are working to develop a clear and simple process for students.
  • Students will have seven days once grades are posted to elect to replace the course grade with a P/NP grade.
  • P grades in Spring 2020 will meet graduation requirements for all programs.
  • P grades in Spring 2020 will meet the College, program, and course admission and entry requirements.
  • Students should speak to their advisors about any impact that electing to replace a Letter Grade with a P/NP may have on their GPA or competitiveness in entering professional schools. 
  • Faculty may not increase the rigor in their course in an attempt to adjust for the P/NP grading policy in Spring 2020. Faculty should evaluate and determine Letter Grades as they have on previous semesters.

Final Exam

Final exams will be conducted remotely. If given synchronously, they must be held according to the previously published Final Exam schedule. Finals can be either closed book or open book. However, the information as to whether a final will be closed or open book for a given course must be provided to students by the modified drop date (April 17). Be explicit concerning your expectations for the Final Exam or Final Project.

Final exams will likely need to be revised to reflect changes in content and delivery necessitated by online instruction. However, instructors are also encouraged to not make the remote exams harder than their in-person exams.

To avoid additional cost to students which could compound the financial hardship many are already facing, faculty members are not encouraged to use online proctoring tools that require students to pay a user fee. OU’s Office of Digital Learning provides some useful resources and guidance for online testing and assessment. Faculty members are also encouraged to review the ‘Best Practices’  and link on the TEACHANYWHERE website.

Faculty Handbook Policies

4.10.1 Student-Faculty Policies and Information

A.Assignments or projects worth less than 10 percent combined total of a student's grade may be assigned at any time prior to pre-finals week and may be due during pre-finals week. However, no assignments or projects may be due on the last two days of pre-finals week. Quizzes may be given during pre-finals week, but cannot account for more than 3% combined total of the final grade. Exams may not be given during pre-finals week.

B.Assignments, take-home examinations, in-class examinations, or projects worth more than 10 percent of a student's grade must be scheduled at least 30 days prior to the first day of finals and must be due or given prior to pre-finals week. Any assignment that is to take the entire semester to complete may be accepted or presented during the first three weekdays of prefinals week provided the syllabus explicitly states that the assignment can be turned in prior to pre-finals week.

C.Special cases deviating from the Final Exam Preparation Period policy must be clearly stated in the course syllabus and approved by the chair of the department through which the course is offered. If the professor is the chair of the department, the professor must have these special cases approved by the dean of the college in which said department resides. If the professor is the dean of the college in which the course is taught, the professor must have these special cases approved by the Senior Vice President and Provost.

D.Special requests made by a student for an extension of assignment deadlines into pre-finals week may be granted subject to the discretion of the instructor.

E.Final Exam Preparation Period policies must be placed in the course syllabus underneath the University Policy section.

The requirements outlined in Faculty Handbook 4.10 are still in place. It is important to follow 4.10.B. Although assignments and due date can be modified, assignments worth 10% of the students’ grade should not be due the week prior to Final Exams.

Faculty are encouraged to be flexible on assignment deadlines. The pre-final exam policies are intended to aid the students in preparing for Finals Exam week. If a student asks to have assignment date delayed into this time period, then the faculty are encouraged to accommodate this request.

4.11 Returning Examinations, Papers, And Projects To Students

It is recommended that students be allowed to see their graded papers, projects, or examinations within a reasonable time. A two-week time limit on the reporting of examination and quiz results is, in general, considered acceptable.

The requirements outlined in Faculty Handbook 4.11 are still in place. In online delivery, communication and feedback on assignments in a timely manner is essential to learning. Feedback on discussion boards should be given within a day or two. Feedback on assignments should be given within a week if at all possible. Communication is critical.

4.12 Rescheduling Courses

Courses may not be rescheduled from the published time/day(s) without the prior approval of the chair/director, the dean of the college offering the course, and the Senior Vice President and Provost.

Faculty can either:

  1. Hold class sessions in real time (“synchronously”). Such classes must begin at the regularly scheduled start time in the Central Time zone (CDT) and end not later than the regularly scheduled end time. It is important to keep the regularly scheduled time so students will not have schedule conflicts. In the case of classes offered synchronously, instructors are strongly encouraged to also deliver class content via an “asynchronous” online format (e.g., via a posted video recording) that students can access at any time.
  2. Hold the class asynchronously. Instructors can record lectures that students can watch at their convenience, or there could be online discussion boards that students can participate in at any time. Note: In the case of asynchronous delivery the duration of the recorded lecture must not be longer than that of the normally scheduled lecture and short videos, 6 minutes or less, are highly recommended. Prior approval to transition a course to asynchronous delivery is not required.

4.19 Class Attendance

Students are responsible for the content of courses in which they are enrolled. Specific policy concerning attendance requirements and announced and unannounced examinations is the responsibility of the individual instructor. Students have a responsibility to inform faculty prior to absences whenever possible. Faculty should make every effort to find a reasonable accommodation for students who miss class as a result of participation in Provost approved or Director of Athletics approved University-sponsored activities or legally required activities such as emergency military service. Students missing class on account of jury duty must receive such an accommodation.

Faculty are encouraged to be flexible in attendance policies during this time. 

Faculty are encouraged to be flexible in due dates for assignments.

Faculty are encouraged to be flexible in accommodations for students with conflicts with scheduled assignments.

Students may not be able to inform faculty prior to an absence or inability to participate in a synchronous assignment. Faculty are encouraged to work with their students to make appropriate accommodations.

4.21 CLASSES DURING FINALS WEEK

The State Regents have indicated the importance of holding class during finals week. Since finals week always has been considered a week of instruction and is a necessary part of the minimum hours of instruction for accreditation, the holding of a final meeting of the class during that week may not be considered optional. (For the policy regarding final examinations, see Section 4.7.)

Faculty are required to give either a Final Exam or a Final Project. Due to the move to online instruction, Final Exams should be given online and Final Projects submitted electronically.

4.25 Course Syllabi And Other Course Materials

Faculty members have responsibilities to their students. They shall encourage in students the free pursuit of learning and independence of mind, while holding before them the highest scholarly and professional standards. Faculty members shall show respect for the student as an individual and adhere to their proper role as intellectual guides and counselors.

Effective Fall 2010, Instructional Faculty shall post the required course syllabus on the University’s course management system by the first day of the semester; providing a paper copy of the syllabus to students is optional. The syllabus should define the goals of the courses, and faculty members should devote their teaching to the realization of those goals. Where appropriate, course syllabi should state, in addition to the major goals of the course, instructor’s office hours; university policies regarding reasonable accommodation and codes of behavior; list of required reading materials; list of all major reading, laboratory, and/or performance assignments for the semester; approximate dates for all graded assignments and approximate percentage each contributes to the final grade. Internships/practicum, directed readings/research, dissertation and thesis hours are exempt from this requirement.

Additionally, instructional faculty are encouraged to use the online course management system to distribute other course materials or to post links to websites with other course materials. Instructional faculty are also encouraged to use other good practices to keep instructional costs minimized including having electronic reserves in the library when feasible and possible, being careful to require only those instructional materials that will actually be extensively used during the course of the semester or term, and learning about and utilizing other emerging technology tools or resources in delivering their courses.

The requirements outlined in Faculty Handbook 4.25 are still in effect. Faculty shall post their modified course syllabus on Canvas. Faculty should distribute any other course materials on Canvas. 

If the course already had a link in Canvas directing students to a course website outside of Canvas, then the faculty member can continue to use this site to post materials.