Western Kentucky University will offer students a new grading option and extend the deadline to drop courses to May 1 in an effort to offer students flexibility amid the coronavirus outbreak, WKU Provost Cheryl Stevens announced Tuesday.
The news comes after WKU suspended in-person classes and asked most students to return home for the rest of the spring semester. Students are continuing their studies at home through a mix of distance learning options, but Stevens said that presents access problems for some students.
“(Our students) have a variety of challenges,” Stevens said.
Some students must care for children stuck at home amid school closures, Stevens said, and others who are health care professionals are taking on more hours at work. Other students live in rural areas with poor internet access, she said.
“Many universities have been looking at these flexible options” for how to help students get through the semester, Stevens told the Daily News.
Given that, WKU will allow students to opt out of the default A-F grading model in favor of a new “Pass/D/Fail” model. The option will be available to students in mid-April, and students have until May 8 – the last day of classes – to take advantage of this option.
Under the new model, work that would have otherwise received a grade of A through C will be a passing grade that will award course credit but will not influence the student’s grade-point average one way or another. A grade of D will count for credit and influence the student’s GPA, while an F grade will not award credit and influence GPA.
“All students should consult with their advisers to select the better grade mode (PDF or A-F) to ensure there are no unintended consequences,” the policy said.
More details are about this change are available at wku.edu/academicaffairs/spring-2020-grading.php.
Additionally, WKU will push the final withdrawal date for courses to May 1 to give students additional time to make decisions. WKU is asking each student to consult with advisers before making this decision, considering it could influence financial aid. Students should contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance for help with making the decision.
Stevens said campus leaders decided to offer a modified pass or fail option for students after hearing from various stakeholders on campus, including deans, department heads, faculty and students.
She described it as the best option, given the situation, to offer students flexibility and prepare them to continue their education at WKU.
“This works for everybody,” she said, describing the new grading option as “the best of both worlds.”