Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Columbia U. Prof: Teachers Must Abandon 'Preconceived Notions' About How Grades Are Earned

A professor at Columbia University is calling on her fellow professors to give their students an “automatic A” for the spring 2020 semester due to the Wuhan coronavirus. According to professor Jenny Davidson, “it’s time to abandon our preconceived ideas about what needs to happen in a college class for a student to get credit for it.”

Columbia University professor Jenny Davidson is calling on those who work in academia to give their students A’s for the spring semester, because of the coronavirus.

The professor made her case in an op-ed for the Washington Post, entitled, “Forget distance learning. Just give every college student an automatic A.”

“At the very least, the coronavirus means universities should switch to pass-fail and pass everyone,” wrote Davidson, adding that “it’s time to abandon our preconceived ideas about what needs to happen in a college class for a student to get credit for it.”

Davidson went on to claim that professors and students are just too “stressed,” adding that she hopes faculty and staff “won’t break under the huge additional workload entailed in moving courses online.”

“We’re now scrambling to transition everyone to remote learning on short notice,” said Davidson.

“We can also hope faculty and staff won’t break under the huge additional workload entailed in moving courses online that weren’t designed to be taught that way,” she added.

Additionally, to “ease stress on students,” the professor argues that colleges and universities should “strip down work expectations to the bare minimum,” and consider giving everyone A’s.

“Strip down work expectations to the bare minimum” wrote Davidson. “Introduce mandatory pass-fail at the very least — and consider giving enrolled students A grades as a default.”

“I wrote to both of my classes a week ago to say that I would give everyone an A based on the work they’d done already,” she added. “Regardless of what my university‚Äôs leadership ultimately decides about distance learning, I intend to do exactly that.”

The professor is not alone in her thinking. On Tuesday, professor Jo McIntosh of Concordia University Texas told her students to stop doing their coursework because she will be giving everyone an A this semester due to the Chinese virus.

As for Davidson, she went on to state in her op-ed that “education isn’t just about mastering material and improving skills.”

“Education is about ethics,” clarified Davidson. “It’s about learning how to be a better member of a community, whatever that community is — it’s about understanding how to balance the drive toward intellectual development and mastery of new concepts and material with self-care and the sane management of responsibilities to the broader community.”

The professor concluded by calling on university leadership to “do the right thing” by allowing teachers “to modify the semester’s coursework” so that it “can better accommodate the sharply intensified financial, health and emotional demands of life in spring semester 2020.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

Alana Mastrangelo

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