New Policies for Faculty

Flexibility of Instruction

The Provost has requested that faculty be sensitive to the stress many of our students are currently feeling as they settle into this new format of learning. Faculty are asked to provide as much flexibility in the learning environment as possible, in consideration for the many different environments in which our students are now working.

Please consider the following as our students ease into our new learning reality:

  • Be sensitive to the different conditions in which our students are now working.
  • Varying time zones, connectivity issues, and available working space may all impact a student’s leaning environment.
  • Class sessions should be recorded to accommodate students who might not be able to attend the session at the given time for these and other reasons. Students could then be able to watch the class session as needed.
  • View an instructional video and a step-by-step guide on how to record your class sessions with Zoom.

Course Continuity

  • All Spring 2020 classes will continue to be taught on the same weekly schedule as before Spring Break using online tools, primarily Zoom and Blackboard.
  • Reasonable accommodations will be made for students experiencing geographical or logistical complications.
  • Recording of all class sessions is the required and default approach. Zoom sessions can be recorded, saved to the cloud, and posted on Blackboard. View an instructional video and a step-by-step guide on how to record your class sessions with Zoom.
  • Other adjustments could include the introduction of more asynchronous elements in a class, flexible timing of lessons and small group classes, and alternative equivalent instruction for students in unusual circumstances.
  • Faculty are expected to consult with chairs and colleagues to develop specific alternatives to elements in the curriculum (e.g. rehearsal in ensemble) and to adjust the syllabus expectations accordingly.
  • Faculty are expected to use the Grade Options as designated in GRS (e.g. A, B, C; Pass/No Pass; Credit/No Credit) as specifically indicated for each student. Students have enhanced opportunities in Spring 2020 to convert their grading option to Pass/No Pass, but faculty cannot mandate this.

Exams during Remote Instruction

As traditional exam formats may be less successful and adaptive in a remote learning environment, our strong advice is to reorient your approach in this final six-week period of the semester.

Any new exam forms you create must adhere to the specific requirements and cultures of the varied courses you teach, but needn’t resemble the tests you had initially planned for the end of the semester. You have the right and responsibility to adapt your planned examinations in a fashion that is consistent with this new online environment.

Blackboard has malleable tools for creating exams. Resources for conducting exams on Blackboard can be found here.

The USC Center for Excellence in Teaching offers options to consider as alternatives to traditional exams. Download their guide here.

Professor Joanna Demers has put together a Thornton-oriented approach to online exams. Click here to download.

Pass/No Pass Grade Option

All USC undergraduate and graduate students will have the option to take any current-semester courses as Pass/No Pass (P/NP) even if a course under normal circumstances would be ineligible for this option.

  • All prohibitions and limitations within Thornton majors and degrees against the P/NP option are lifted in the Spring 2020 semester only.
  • The deadline for a student to select these options is May 27, 2020.
  • This choice can be selected by the student for each course on the Web Registration system.
  • See the USC Academics FAQ page for further information.

The nature of a Pass is different if a student chooses P/NP vs. Letter Grade. Find more information below for how this policy relates to grading undergraduate and graduate students.

Grading Undergraduate Students:

If an undergraduate student has chosen the P/NP option: When you assign a final grade in GRS, calculate the letter grade as you normally would. A grade of C-minus and above equates to grade of “Pass”; a D-plus and lower equates to a grade of “No Pass.”

If an undergraduate student has chosen the Letter Grade option: Simply calculate the letter grade as you normally would. However, please note that there is no school-wide minimum (or failing) grade policy for courses in a student’s major. Some departments consider B or C as the minimum acceptable grade for a course within their major, but barring a specific departmental rule, only an F is considered a failing grade at USC. A D-minus is considered passing under normal circumstances.

Please note that Undergraduate Ensemble courses (499-level and lower) are by default graded Credit/No Credit with the grade of CR (Credit) being equivalent to a Pass or C-minus.

Given these complexities, please recommend that students discuss the P/NP option with their academic advisor before deciding to take it.

Grading Graduate Students:

If a graduate student has chosen the P/NP option: When you assign a final grade in GRS, calculate the letter grade as you normally would. A grade of B and above equates to grade of “Pass”; a B-minus and lower equates to a grade of “No Pass.”

If a graduate student has chosen the Letter Grade option: Simply calculate the letter grade as you normally would. However, please note that a C is the School-wide minimum passing grade for all (non-remedial) courses, whereas a B is the minimum passing grade only for courses in a student’s major department (e.g. MUCO for Composition majors).

Please note that Graduate Ensemble courses (500-level and higher) are by default letter-graded.

Given these complexities, please recommend that students discuss the P/NP option with their academic advisor before deciding to take it.

Withdrawal (W) Option and Deadline Extension

For the current semester only, the deadline to withdraw from any course and receive a mark of “W” (“Withdrawal”) has been extended to Friday, May 1, 2020, which is the last day of regular classes, but before final exams.

Incomplete (IN) Option

The grade of Incomplete (IN) continues to be a narrowly-defined grade option that occurs after a Withdrawl (W) is no longer allowed. For the Spring 2020 semester, student’s are eligible for a grade of IN after Friday, May 1, 2020.

As indicated in the USC Grade Handbook, “an IN is considered in the case of a documented emergency that occurs after the withdrawal date and/or during the final exam period… Based on this definition, a student may not request an IN before the withdrawal deadline.”

Degree Recitals

  • For every student recital that is curricularly necessary for an already expected Spring 2020 graduation, departments are required to facilitate a recital OR an agreed-upon substitute as a capstone experience by May 15, 2020.
  • Departments are encouraged whenever possible to continue other already scheduled curricularly-required recitals even if not for immediate graduation needs.
  • Non-required recitals as well as junior recitals and graduate recitals for students not graduating in Spring 2020 may be considered for postponement.
  • All recitals or substitutes in Spring 2020 must adhere to social distancing parameters as if a “Shelter in Place” order were in force, meaning students may not perform together in-person.
  • The acceptable forms of recitals in your department (live stream, recording, alternative recorded presentation, written document, etc.) are to be decided by the chair in consultation with the faculty and with approval of the Vice Dean.

Juries

  • All juries that were originally planned for Spring 2020 must still take place in some acceptable form, since juries are the final exam for the course.
  • Departments are encouraged to modify the mode of delivery and content of the jury as appropriate to each situation.
  • All juries in Spring 2020 must adhere to social distancing parameters as if a “Shelter in Place” order were in force, meaning students may not perform together in-person.
  • Possible approaches to juries include live Zoom sessions with the faculty, recordings, or other substitutes which are to be decided by the chair in consultation with the faculty and with approval of the Vice Dean.
  • Evaluation should be conducted as closely as possible to the spirit of normal juries.