Classes and academics for faculty

How should faculty prepare for online class delivery?

Refer to the communication sent by the Office of the Provost on March 12, 2020 (Coronavirus-related main campus transition to remote instruction) and March 13, 2020 (Update on transition to remote instruction. Additional information can be obtained by contacting the Office of the Provost, the Adams Center and checking the ACU coronavirus page

Because many students left Abilene without their textbooks, faculty members should look to the textbook publishers' websites to determine whether they are making electronic materials available. Many publishers are offering free access to the electronic versions of their books during this unprecedented time. If the publisher has continued to restrict access to an electronic version of the book, the library staff has offered to help look for electronic resources or digitize hard copies, if necessary. 

Dead Day/Finals Week Clarifications

As we have mentioned before, we will continue to use the final exams schedule as it is published. The times are in Central Daylight Time, which is our Texas time zone. This may present an inconvenience for some students who are in different time zones. Letting students know soon whether you are planning a synchronous final exam will give everyone plenty of time to prepare to take your exam in CDT.  

The staff in the Adams Center continue to offer live sessions on online testing and alternative assessment methods throughout the spring semester. Look for dates and times in the Adams Center newsletter. 

CR/NC Grading

Information Technology and the Registrar’s Office have been working on the system to accommodate the option for Credit/No Credit grading that we are giving students because of the disruption of our classes by the pandemic. Faculty will tabulate grades and submit them as you normally do. Please submit all grades by the deadline, Tuesday, May 12 at 5 p.m. 

Beginning Thursday, May 14 through Wednesday, May 20, students will have access to a form through myACU that allows them to see each of the courses they took this semester, the letter grade they earned in that class and the option to shift that letter grade to Credit/No Credit grading. They will be asked to affirm their choices before submission, and after submission they will receive an email record of their choices. The shift will occur in the Registrar’s Office as it always does when a student elects to take a course graded as CR/NC.

Only spring courses and courses that begin prior to June 22 are included in the expanded option for students to select CR/NC grades. Beginning with the Summer 3 session, ACU will return to regular grading as described in the academic catalog.

For your reference, I’ve included the following information that originally appeared in the March 20 Provost’s Update: 

The Credit/No Credit approach is similar to a pass/fail structure, but without the GPA penalty of an F. Neither the grades CR (Credit, for an earned A, B, C or D) nor NC (No Credit, for an earned F) count toward the GPA; students who receive NC in a required course must repeat that course to complete their degree requirements.  

Students should consider several factors in making decisions about grading in Spring 2020:

  • CR/NC may be used for all Abilene undergraduate and graduate courses, not just electives.
  • Courses graded CR/NC in Spring 2020 will not count toward a student’s limit of 12 hours of this type of grading toward a degree.
  • A grade of CR will satisfy any subsequent course prerequisite of “C or better” in the course taken in Spring 2020.
  • Students who are repeating a course in which they previously earned a letter grade may choose the CR/NC option.
  • Choosing CR/NC might affect whether another university would accept the course for transfer in the future.
  • Students who are working toward licensure and/or planning to attend graduate or professional school should confer with their faculty mentor and advisor before shifting a required course from a letter grade to CR/NC.

Summer Courses

ACU will continue the suspension of residential face-to-face courses throughout all sessions of the Summer 2020 term. Decisions about Study Abroad and missions activities that are scheduled to begin after June 30 will be announced in early May.

Tenure and Promotion

We were encouraged to see the guidance from AAUP (American Association of University Professors) for responding to COVID-19 aligns with ACU’s decision to offer tenure-track faculty members the option to stop their tenure clock. Although ACU is not subject to its guidance, AAUP is a respected source for thoughts on faculty governance issues. We agree that the decision to request to stop the tenure clock should be the decision of the faculty member, not a status imposed by the university. 

As previously mentioned in the Provost’s Update: For tenure-track faculty concerned that your work toward tenure has been slowed as a result of COVID-19, please refer to the Faculty Handbook for information about stopping the tenure clock. Stopping the clock is designed to extend the final date by which a tenure-track faculty member must apply for tenure. Requesting to stop the tenure clock is a valid and common practice in situations that meet the criteria. The COVID-19 situation meets the criterion “extraordinary events beyond the faculty member’s control”. You may choose to submit a written request to your chair and dean to begin the process of stopping your clock. An approved request will stop the clock for 12 months. If you choose not to submit a request to stop the clock, no change will be made to your timeline. 

A tenure-track faculty member who requests and is granted the opportunity to stop their tenure clock because of the pandemic will still have access to the two instances referenced in the Faculty Handbook. The Faculty Handbook says: "In most cases, the option to stop the clock will be limited to two instances, for a maximum of two years." In other words, a COVID-19 pandemic-related tenure clock stoppage would not preclude a person from requesting and being granted two additional instances.

End-of-Course Evaluations

Our approach to end-of-course evaluations aligns with AAUP guidance to hold faculty harmless for negative teaching evaluations during the period of the COVID-19 disruption. In conversation with the deans, we have further clarified our decision to proceed with the end-of-course evaluations with two caveats: 

  1. Similar to the way students can elect CR/NC grading, faculty may select to not include end-of-course evaluations for Spring 2020 in submission for tenure, promotion or annual evaluations. 
  2. The addition of a question that will prompt students to reflect specifically on faculty efforts in Spring 2020. We will work with a group of deans and faculty to craft the additional question.

Annual Faculty Evaluations

In conversation with the deans, we have decided on the following dates for each stage of the Annual Faculty Evaluation process this semester: 

  • April 27 - faculty: Activity Insight > 2019-20 Workload and Goals > Response to Goals complete 
  • May 11 - department chairs: Activity Insight > 2019-20 Workload and Goals > Chair Evaluation complete
  • May 18 - deans: review complete

If you need training for Activity Insight, please contact Berlin Fang (bxf13b@acu.edu) in the Adams Center.

Intellectual Property

The university will not use the COVID-19 pandemic to alter our normal intellectual property policy. Therefore, resources faculty have uploaded to courses for use during this crisis will not be used for other purposes without knowledge and permission of the faculty member. 

Outcomes Assessment Reports

Outcomes assessment will continue as usual for 2019-20 with an extended deadline. Each unit should complete its assessment report in Taskstream by July 1, and deans will provide feedback by Sept. 1. Chairs and program directors will receive more instructions and suggestions later in April.

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