The provost also addressed the swim test and physical ed credits for graduating seniors.
Spring term grades for undergraduates will change to a credit/no credit system instead of letter grades, Provost Joseph Helble told the Dartmouth community in an email today.
The change comes after discussion and consideration of options with academic leaders across campus over the past week, he said.
"We recognized that the shift to remote learning will affect our students in many ways," he said.
Spring term classes—all of which will be taught remotely this term due to the COVID-19 pandemic—will begin March 30. Helble said the change in grading takes into account that students are located around the world, in different time zones, and may have challenges in getting access to online courses.
"Some students, particularly those who join the Dartmouth community from regions across the globe, will be challenged by synchronous discussions from a range of time zones. Some will have limited access to bandwidth or to necessary hardware, particularly with the closing of libraries and other public high-bandwidth places across the country. Still others will be living in homes where caregiving and other family demands will affect their ability to work effectively. Some may themselves fall ill. And all will need to rely on teleconferencing for meetings with faculty, peers, and advisers.
"While some students may thrive in this distance-learning scenario, we decided that uniform grading, for this term only, was the fairest way to support all of our undergraduate students, and would give our faculty time to focus on the content of their coursework while also providing the opportunity to develop assessments that can be used if remote learning continues into summer term," he wrote.
Spring term courses will not be factored into students' grade-point average and faculty will still have the option of recognizing exceptional work by awarding academic citations.
Another change Helble announced is that graduating seniors will not have to pass the swim test or earn a physical education credit if they haven't already done so. This and the grading changes will apply only to spring term, he said, even if some or all of the summer term is taught remotely.
Dartmouth's grading change applies only to undergraduates. The graduate and professional schools and programs will use their existing grading systems unless students are otherwise notified.
Susan J. Boutwell can be reached at [email protected].