Friday, January 28, 2022

Provost addresses pass/fail grading, student mental health in spring welcome

January 11, 2022
<p>Woodruff answers a question asked by sports desk editor Elijah McKown. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. and provost Teresa Woodruff sat down with The State News for an interview at the end of the semester on Dec. 13, 2021.</p>

Woodruff answers a question asked by sports desk editor Elijah McKown. President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. and provost Teresa Woodruff sat down with The State News for an interview at the end of the semester on Dec. 13, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

In her spring semester welcome letter to faculty and academic staff, MSU Provost Teresa Woodruff addressed the petition started by students at the end of the fall semester to reinstate Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory, or S/NS, grading.

Woodruff said she asked the University Committee on Undergraduate Education, or UCUE, to evaluate existing grading modalities to determine the best way to encourage student success this semester. 

“This work will happen in the month of January to ensure educators, advisors, and students are all aware of the ways in which their progress and success will be evaluated and recorded,” Woodruff wrote in the letter. 

Woodruff endorsed a recommendation by UCUE for the Fall 2020 semester to expand grading options to include S/NS, in relation to COVID-19. 

Despite calls from students to reinstate binary grading for the Fall 2021 semester, MSU returned to the traditional grading scale. 

In the letter, Woodruff also touched on the reasoning behind the switch to remote learning for the start of the spring semester.

“Starting the semester with most classes meeting remotely better ensures our ability to continue the academic work of each member of our community,” Woodruff wrote. “Indeed, a remote start involves less disruption than the potentially greater and longer-lasting disruptions – for both instructors and students – that could result from positive testing and the associated isolation periods.”

Regarding mental health resources for students, Counseling and Psychiatric Services, or CAPS, through a partnership with Uwill – a network of licensed, telemental health counselors – will strengthen its capacity to offer more counseling services to students free of charge, Woodruff wrote. 

\Woodruff said in the letter that when CAPS counselors have limited capacity, students who would benefit from short-term, solution-oriented counseling services, after an initial CAPS consultation, may be referred to Uwill.

“These services will complement the many other services already offered by CAPS and the other Student Health and Wellness departments,” Woodruff wrote. “The initial partnership will provide at least 2,000 additional counseling sessions per year, with an opportunity to grow capacity into the future.”

The university is currently working to establish the partnership with the goal of implementing it by mid-spring semester.

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