Given the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the academic lives of students, Brock University is extending a series of measures first introduced in April to provide additional grading options to undergraduates.
The decision is similar to steps taken recently by several other Canadian universities and follows consultation and discussion with students, the Brock University Students’ Union, Graduate Students’ Association and faculty members.
On Wednesday, Dec. 16, the Brock University Senate passed a motion approving the extension of flexible grading options that would allow undergraduate students to choose how grades are presented on transcripts. These options would apply for courses taken in the Fall 2020 Term.
The Senate motion provides undergraduate students with three grading options:
- Maintaining the alpha/numeric grade assigned for the course (i.e., keeping the grade as is, which is the default option).
- Replacing the alpha/numeric grade with a designation of ‘Credit during Disruption’ or ‘No Credit during Disruption.’ In this case, the final mark will not appear on the transcript and will not be included in calculations of the student’s academic average.
- Replacing the alpha/numeric grade with a special withdrawal code. In this case, students can withdraw from the course without academic penalty.
The option to change grades will become available to students in the new year, allowing students to change grades for Fall Term courses even after they have been released. There will be some exceptions, including full-year courses, for which grades are not finalized until April.
Further work will be done early in the new year to consider criteria that will ensure the integrity of a Brock transcript and to confirm it will continue to reflect a student’s academic abilities through the COVID period. These considerations may include the maximum number of courses eligible for alternative grading in a student’s program of study, possible restrictions for Honours degrees or accredited programs, etc. These requirements will be important should students decide to attend graduate school, professional school, or make other choices that might require their transcript in the future.
Appropriate measures for academic advising will also be put into place to ensure that students give careful consideration to any grade changes and their potential consequences in the future, especially for Honours students.
Brock has also extended the holiday break, re-opening on Wednesday, Jan. 6 and beginning the majority of classes on Monday, Jan. 11. In line with this change, Winter Term registration has also been extended to Friday, Jan. 22 and academic withdrawal deadlines for Winter have been extended. For an updated listing of specific academic dates and deadlines, visit brocku.ca/important-dates
“This has been and continues to be a challenging time for many,” said Brock Provost and Vice-President, Academic Lynn Wells. “We know some students are falling behind, struggling with adapting to online learning, or not performing up to their potential as a result of the additional stressors brought on by the pandemic. Students are tired, stressed, anxious and burned out and we know the ‘new normal’ hasn’t quite become normal yet.”
“We can’t make the pandemic go away, and we can’t return to campus until it is considered safe to do so, but we hope this added flexibility with respect to grading will help students make choices that reflect the challenges these times may be posing and protect their record for the future,” Wells said.
More information will be made available early in the new year.