Editorial: Online Schooling Needs Alternative Grading

As we wind down our first full semester under new COVID-19 regulations, we as students should reflect on the education that we have been provided during this time. 

Faculty have been doing their best to keep the caliber of our education on par with how normal years are, but the fact of the matter is that online schooling is simply far more difficult.

Whether it comes from difficulty in communication between students and professors, misunderstandings of the syllabus, or the seemingly relentless technical difficulties, the grades that come from this semester should be seen with a large asterisk. 

On top of these basic, inarguable educational barriers, there is another level of difficulty that affects students on a more individual basis: motivation and retention. 

Attending classes via Zoom class is not the same as attending classes in person. There is much less accountability by means of attention, as face cams are rarely required and microphones are almost invariably on mute. 

The university cannot reasonably expect students to be at their maximum learning potential while attending “Zoom University.” 

This is not to say faculty members  are’t trying their best. Constantly there are new and innovative ways some staff are finding to keep students engaged and ready to learn. Some classes even lend themselves better to online learning.

That being said, faculty just “doing their best” is not providing the same level of education that students would be getting in a normal year. 

So how can we grade students in the same way that they have been in years past, if the student’s education isn’t the same.

During spring semester, when the university was forced to close down early and move everything online, there was a “pass/no credit” option given to students who had difficulty adapting to the new online system. In this scenario, students earn a pass if they get over a C; they receive no credit for the class if they receive a C- or lower. 

Last semester, this option gave students who were struggling with the new system an option to not see their GPA tank as a direct result of the pandemic. 

As many students have found this semester to be similarly challenging, this option should be extended to students again. 

The fact is, this year’s fall semester here at MNSU is unlike any other fall semester this school has ever seen. We, as the student body, are the guinea pigs of this new style of teaching and learning, and should not be indirectly punished for it. 

As we are forced to learn in alternate ways, the university should work to give students the option to have their grades be reflected in alternate ways as well. 

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