Pass/Fail grading is a breath of relief for students Wednesday, Apr 1 2020 

By Ben Goldberger —

With the recent switch to online classes, University of Louisville students are left stressing over the many uncertainties that surround the end of the semester.

The university recently got rid of one of those uncertainties by allowing students to choose whether or not to make their classes pass/fail instead of letter grades.

This is a great move by the university. Not only does Pass/Fail grading relieve a lot of student anxiety about maintaining high academic achievement through online classes, this gives the students the power to control their grades. 

In an email sent out by University Provost Beth Boehm, she said, “As always, we are doing our best to make sure that you can finish the semester in the strongest possible way and not be overly concerned that the disruption of COVID-19 will poorly impact your record.”

University administrators and professors have been extremely empathetic with students throughout these abnormal times, and this recent policy shift is another example of that. They want to make sure their students are put in the best position to succeed, and offering the Pass/Fail option is a great way to do so.

The best aspect of this policy is that students can pick and choose which of their classes they want to switch to Pass/Fail grading. They have until the last day of classes, April 21, to do so. Since a general “Pass” grade will not affect students’ GPAs, this gets rid of any impact that this pandemic could have on their records. 

This aspect is particularly popular among the students. 

“I think it’s really nice that we have the option to switch over without affecting our GPA,” says freshman Nia Watson-Jones. “Taking online classes is a lot different than being in person, so I really appreciate the choice that the university has given.”

Some people may look at this policy and think that this only enables students to be lazier and not be punished for not doing their best. While this is theoretically true, the Pass/Fail system more-so accounts for the educational setbacks that are inevitable in these uncharted times. 

If anything, it levels the playing field for students who were promised, and paid full tuition prices for, in person classes. The university understands that while they have world class professors and students, nobody was prepared for this sudden shift to online learning. This policy accounts for those unavoidable hiccups that will happen with this learning change. 

The world is going through unprecedented times right now, and it’s scary to think about the effects that this pandemic will have on society, both future and present. U of L administrators want to make this period of uncertainty as controllable as possible, and introducing the choice to switch to Pass/Fail grading is a great way of doing so. 

At the end of her initial email on the subject, Boehm shared a heartwarming story of how she celebrated her son trying his best in school, despite receiving a less than perfect grade. She then passed that same message onto all of the students at U of L, and said, “Success is doing your best, not being perfect.” 

The new policy released by the university allows students to do so without the anxiety and worry of not reaching the level of academic achievement that they maintained through in person classes. 

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L adds pass/fail option for the spring 2020 semester Friday, Mar 20 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm announced in an email to students March 20 that students now have the option to make any of their classes for the spring 2020 semester pass/fail.

A pass/fail system means that no matter the letter grade, a class that a student passes will not affect their grade point average but will be counted toward their degree progression. A failed class will affect their grade point average.

Undergraduate students who choose this option will earn a grade of “pass” for any class they get a D- or better in and a “fail” grade for any class they get an F in. Graduate students will earn a “pass” for any class they get a C- or better in and a “fail” for any class they get a D+ or below in.

Boehm explained the decision to offer a pass/fail class as a way to redefine what success means in a time where things are uncertain due to the spread of COVID-19.

“Success might mean something different this semester than it would in a ‘normal’ semester: it might mean not giving up when you are tempted to; it might mean finishing all of the courses you signed up for without stressing about grades; it might mean practicing social distancing to keep yourself and others safe and healthy; it might mean finding out that you are stronger than you thought,” Boehm said.

This decision came after students raised concerns about the switch to online classes for the remainder of the semester. One student, Chidum Okeke, started an online petition to persuade U of L administration to provide a pass/fail option.

That petition had 3,751 signatures at the time the decision was made. In his petition, Okeke explained why he felt a pass/fail system would be beneficial. “U of L students are driven and passionate, but under these circumstances, the amount of work and engagement can be exhausting and potentially detrimental to the success of our student body,” Okeke said.

“Giving students the option to make their classes pass/fail wouldn’t discourage students from doing well academically, but rather, would allow some cushion for those in tough situations.”

Boehm suggested that students talk to their advisors before deciding to switch to pass/fail or not. The decision can be made on a class by class basis and the deadline to switch a class to pass/fail is April 21, the last day of class.

Boehm attached the university’s official pass/fail policy to the email and said it will also be put on the U of L coronavirus website.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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