Ohio University

Letter to Faculty - Academic Update, Nov. 19, 2020

Published: November 19, 2020 Author: Staff reports

The following message was shared with Ohio University faculty on Nov. 19, 2020.

Dear Colleagues, 

As we head into the end of fall semester, I want to provide some updates about the following:

  • Information about the newly updated absence policy, fall 2020 student evaluations, and a reminder about fall 2020 final exam policies
  • Launch of the Academic Planning and Strategy Group
  • Resources from the Office of Instructional Innovation and the Office of Information Technology to support spring course development 

Policy Updates 

1)     Updated absence policy 

As shared in August, (https://www.ohio.edu/provost/academic-policy-update) and based on the recommendation of the Academic Policy and Process group, the absence policy was updated to treat absences because a student is ill with COVID-19, in quarantine or isolation at the direction of a health care professional or health department official, or believes they might have COVID-19 as a “legitimate absence” as described in the existing attendance policy. Recently, this policy was further amended to treat absences by students who miss class because they are asked to voluntarily quarantine as part of the recently adopted residence hall alert system as a legitimate absence. This will continue in the spring semester as well. 

2)     Student evaluations of teaching for fall 2020  

As shared with chairs and directors earlier this semester, and based on the recommendation of Academic Policy and Process group, student evaluations of teaching for fall 2020 will be treated similarly to the spring for all courses:   

  • All colleges and academic programs will collect and record instructional evaluations of Fall 2020 courses online. 
  • For fall semester 2020, Ohio University will suspend the use and analysis of instructional evaluations for the purposes of annual evaluations and promotion and/or tenure requirements unless an instructor actively chooses to include such evaluations.  

The Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Committee has developed a memorandum, approved by the APP group, that provides instructors and department chairs with alternative suggestions for demonstrating teaching effectiveness.

3)     Reminder of final exam policies for fall 2020 

As shared in August, (https://www.ohio.edu/news/2020/08/faculty-fall-planning-update-aug-13-2020) final exam policies have been updated to reflect the online end of the semester on the Athens campus, and the hybrid approach on the regional campuses, including: 

  • The final exam or culminating experience due date must occur during the university defined final exam week. 
  • Unless otherwise required by program accreditation, all faculty are strongly encouraged to use an asynchronous exam. The exam window must not close prior to the end of the traditional scheduled exam time if available. See Registrar listing.    
  • Students will not have to complete more than three finals, exams, or other culminating experiences on the same day. If students have more than three on the same day, they may appeal to the instructor with the exam that is due at the latest time on that day. If there are multiple exams due at the same time, the student will contact the instructor with the highest alpha/numeric course (subject and catalog number). (For example, a student enrolled in MATH 1200, COMS 2050, ART 1141, and NUTR 1000 would contact the NUTR 1000 instructor regarding a new date/time.)  

Academic Planning and Strategy Group 
We received more than 60 self-nominations for the Academic Planning and Strategy group—I am grateful that so many faculty members are invested in the academic future of our university. The group has started meeting to share background information and develop principles for this work; they will then break into subgroups to look at academic program offerings, academic structure, and academic policy, practice and process, with recommendations due March 1. The expectation is that each subgroup will regularly share information and seek feedback from faculty as they develop their recommendations, so please keep an eye out for these opportunities, especially in the new year.   

Instructional design workshops and faculty support 
The Office of Instructional Innovation and the Office of Information Technology are offering lunch and learn sessions, as well as workshops with open forum discussions for Spring course preparation. 

  • November: Flipped Classroom, VoiceThread Essentials, and Creating and Sharing Engaging Videos 
  • December: Effective Asynchronous Online Teaching, and Tips for Teaching Large Enrollment Classes Online 
  • January 2021: Tips for Teaching Labs Online, Online Experiential Learning, Tips for Teaching Performance-Based Courses Online, and Running Effective Discussions 

To register, use the following URL: https://www.ohio.edu/keep-teaching/resources-and-support/workshops/spring-remote-teaching-workshops

OII also has an extensive pre-recorded workshop section on its Keep Teaching website: https://www.ohio.edu/keep-teaching/resources-and-support/workshops/pre-recorded 

Additionally, OII, OIT and the Library will continue to offer one-on-one consultations and group support throughout winter break: https://www.ohio.edu/keep-teaching/resources-and-support/consultations

Planning Ahead for Spring Semester  
Finally, we are all watching with concern as COVID-19 cases increase in the state and across the nation; even if your campus is in a county with relatively lower rates, we know that many of our students come from areas that are increasingly affected by the surge in cases. I am sure many of you saw Governor DeWine’s special address last week and heard him thank colleges and universities for de-densifying their campuses this fall, as well as raise the possibility that we will need to deliver courses remotely if the current spike were not controlled. The start of spring semester is two months away, and it is hard to predict what the level of infection will be at that time. Based on recommendations from the Spring Curriculum Scenario Planning group, and thanks to the work done by faculty, school directors, department chairs, and college staff, spring course offerings included alternative modalities when they were submitted to the Registrar’s office, so we will be able to respond to conditions if they are significantly better or worse as the spring semester approaches. As we saw in the fall, we need to be prepared to shift modalities depending on conditions. We also have had to adapt in order to meet learning outcomes despite lengthy student (and sometimes faculty) absences. I urge you take advantage of the faculty support outlined above to be prepared for whatever the circumstances may be after the holidays. 

With best wishes for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving,

Elizabeth Sayrs
Executive Vice President and Provost