Temple University announced they would allow undergraduate students to choose one class to opt into credit or no credit for the fall semester on Nov. 5 in response to Temple Student Government’s request. Students will have until Dec. 7 to make this decision, The Temple News reported.
I applaud Temple for listening to feedback from TSG and giving students the alternative of credit or no credit during this challenging semester. However, Temple should have announced this earlier and extended the option to all classes, not just one. While we are receiving more emails from Provost JoAnne Epps and President Richard Englert, they are typically repetitive and vague, and they offer little new information.
Students who opt into credit or no credit will receive a CR (credit, equivalent to C- or above), CD (credit with D, equivalent to D-, D or D+) or NC (no credit, equivalent to F) on their transcript. This can be relieving because CR and NC do not have grade points assigned to them, unlike a letter grade. Therefore, they do not affect GPA, but they do count as semester hours required for graduation, according to the Temple 2020-2021 bulletin.
On March 30, Temple permitted credit or no credit and pass or fail for undergraduate and graduate students, respectively. Students could opt in for all of their classes due to concerns about grades two weeks after the shift to online learning, The Temple News reported.
Jess Barker, a senior public health major, took advantage of this policy last semester for her anatomy and physiology course, she said.
“I like that Temple is at least acknowledging that it’s harder for kids to learn online, so they’re giving us this,” Barker said. “It’s so much harder to retain info online than in person, especially with everything going on right now between the election and the pandemic.”
Vice Provost Daniel Berman said a great deal of conversation took place with Quinn Litsinger, a junior political science major and Student Body President, who advocated for credit or no credit this semester.
“There was not the same level of disruption as the spring,” Berman added. “This semester did not need as flexible grading as last semester since in the spring students were disrupted in the middle of it.”
Litsinger originally proposed the option to have all classes be credit or no credit, he said.
“We are happy they listened to the Temple Student Government,” Litsinger added. “While there were not the same accommodations as last semester, it was a compromise in the right direction.”
Granted, students and faculty had to pivot online unexpectedly after the university canceled all in-person classes last spring, while they had the summer to prepare for online classes in the fall. However, some students who initially signed up for in-person classes had to adjust when most classes were moved online one week into the semester due to rising COVID-19 cases.
Temple should follow the precedent they set last spring and allow all classes to be taken for credit or no credit, not just one.
Julie Crocker, a senior public health major, opted into credit or no credit last semester for her ecology course, she said.
“This one class would have made my GPA drop a lot because I had a C,” she said. “Only half of the school year was online, and I get that it was hard, but we had the whole first half to get our grades up. Now, we have to try our hardest with the whole semester being online.”
It is unfair to expect the same results from students who were taught in an in-person classroom for most of their lives and then forced to adapt to online learning in a matter of months. Some students may be living at home and have to pay attention with family members in the background.
International and out-of-state students may experience conflicts with time zones while online classes, a Famuan study found.
Temple should be considerate of the unprecedented and evolving public health crisis we are currently living in and adopt fair grading, like credit or no credit, for all classes to reflect their understanding.
Sara Houser, a junior social work major, also used credit or no credit last semester for her biology course. She has not decided if she is going to use it again this semester, but she believes students should be granted the option because they are still feeling the effects from the pandemic, she said.
“We have been in the pandemic for almost a year now,” Houser added. “People are lonely, isolated even. And their mental health is still suffering.”
These past two semesters have been drastically different from any other. Students’ needs are different, too, and Temple should respect that. Only allowing one credit or no credit class more than halfway through the semester shows they are not thinking holistically about students in their daily lives.
While I appreciate that the university is working with TSG, they need to accommodate students for the duration of the pandemic. Students are carrying a heavy load, and as this semester has been anything but normal, Temple’s grading policies should not revert back to normal yet either.