University of Southern Maine - Associate Dean of Nursing
United States of America

In light of recent transition to fully remote classrooms, due to the threat of COVID-19, the Chancellor's office of the University of Southern Maine sent out notice that students were to have the option of shifting to retrograde pass/fail grading, if such an option is declared before April 20, 2020.

The change to pass/fail to mitigate potential effects of this substantial and unforeseeable change would have on the GPAs of those who may be impacted the most. The change was recommended by Dannel P Malloy, Chancellor of the University of Maine System, and is supported by USM Provost Uzzi and President Cummings. Nursing faculty have voiced their support for this change as well.

The USM Nursing Department has taken a stance that no nursing courses, other than labs and clinicals, which are already pass/fail, shall be eligible for this option. Cited reasons include:

- A career limit of pass/fail credits that is already met by most or all nursing students. The Provost's office clarified on April 3, 2020 that any credits elected for pass/fail this semester would not count toward student career limits.

- Perception that student transcripts which substitute pass/fail grades for letter grades will be less desirable on graduate school applications and admissions. We believe that nursing students should be granted the autonomy to decide for themselves how their educational record would be most accurately and appropriately notated to reflect this unprecedented shift in learning environment and circumstance.

For the reasons stated in this petition, we implore Associate Dean Peterson and her colleagues to please reconsider her decision and allow Nursing students to declare pass/fail grading for courses this semester.

In the interest of all USM Nursing students who would exercise such an option, we, the undersigned, ask the School of Nursing to consider the following request:

Please allow Nursing students, at the discretion of their faculty, to exercise the retroactive pass/fail option which has been extended to USM students in other departments, for previously face-to-face courses which have been moved to an online format. We do not request a change in any standards for passing any course, only that a student who makes the request be granted the appropriate pass/fail grade on his or her transcript in lieu of the earned letter grade.

We believe that this request is reasonable and appropriate based on the following points:

- Honoring this request would not grant leniency or pass students who do not meet the conventional score and grade standards set forth by the School of Nursing.
- In some cases, students are being asked to accept responsibility for their own education and for their children, who have been dismissed from K-12 schools until at least April 26th. Students with children younger than school age almost universally have lost access to childcare outside of the home. Our children, like so many adults, are understandably stressed, uncertain, and afraid. The demands on our time and resources as parents are higher than they have ever been. This circumstance presents Nursing students with an extreme difficulty as we balance the rigors of our education with the needs of our children.
- In some cases, students are adapting our work schedules and circumstances: working more or less than planned for, working from home, suffering from lost employment and resulting in emotional, financial, and logistical stress. In some cases, students are having to make up the lost wages of spouses and partners. Since these severe employment and finance related conflicts could not have been forecasted and in some cases will remain inflexible or worsen, we ask that we not be penalized for them.
- Despite all reasonable efforts of faculty and students, some students do not thrive in an online learning environment and are concerned about their performance after the transition to this format, even in the absence of the many other stressors with which we are faced.
- The purpose of extending this option would be to allow high-achieving students to maintain their earned GPA, which might otherwise be unduly reduced owing to the unusual circumstances that have been dictated by the COVID-19 transition. Students who hold a high GPA have dedicated years of our lives to maintain this status. We rely on this measure of our success to secure funding for our education, in consideration for graduate programs, and as a reflection of our academic ability.

We would like to reiterate, this change would not allow students to pass if they otherwise would be unable to. It simply protects the GPA of passing students from being harmed during these trying times.

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The Approve Pass/Fail Option for USM Nursing Students petition to University of Southern Maine - Associate Dean of Nursing was written by Ashlee Croyle and is in the category Education at GoPetition.

Petition Tags

education grading nursing