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Provost Message to Faculty - Spring 2022

by Denise Runge  |   

WE PUT STUDENTS FIRST!

Dear UAA Faculty,

As we head into our winter break, I want to thank you and wish you all the best for a joyful new year. As you are making your preparations for the spring semester, please refer to the below reminders and general guidance.

SYLLABI

As a kind reminder, all syllabi must include the course student learning outcomes. You can find further guidance for syllabi on the OAA Policies, Procedures, and Guidance webpage. See Syllabus Guidance. Please especially be mindful that, if the course includes a fee, you must include the statement, as outlined in the guidance. This keeps UAA in compliance with Board policy.

CORE COMPETENCIES

If your course intentionally contributes to student learning in one of UAA’s four core competencies, please include that in your syllabus and in your conversations with your students.

You are invited to learn more about incorporating this year’s featured core competency, “effective communication,” in a series of faculty-led sessions at the 2022 Winter Teaching Academy.

DATES AND DEADLINES

UAA has returned to the regular policies, processes, dates and deadlines for withdrawal, CR/NC, and incompletes.

See the Spring 2022 Dates and Deadlines on the Registrar’s website. Note that Add/Drop, Credit/No Credit, and Credit-to-Audit deadlines come quickly, on January 21st.

EXCEPTIONS

Exceptions to Policy: While UAA has returned to the regular dates and deadlines, please keep in mind that for many, if not most, policies, exceptions are possible. There is a policy petition for this on the Registrar’s forms website. However, for time sensitive issues, it is possible in many cases to expedite this process. Please consult with your dean or community campus director’s office if a situation arises where you want to help a student, but are not sure how to go about it.

Incomplete Extensions: Students may request an extension to an incomplete deadline, even if a year has passed. It is an academic decision that the faculty can make with the student and recommend to their dean, who may request an exception through OAA. This can be handled by a simple email with the basic information about the course (semester, year, CRN, prefix, number, title), the extension requested and a brief rationale. The dean will review. If they agree, the dean will forward the request along with their support to Academic Affairs at uaa_oaa@alaska.edu.

STUDENT SUCCESS

Seawolf Tracks Progress Reports: Submitting progress reports allows advisors and student success staff to conduct early student interventions that encourage students to access resources, communicate with their instructors, and make informed academic decisions. Faculty are asked to submit progress reports in weeks 2-4 and 7-9, particularly for first year, GER, and “gateway” courses that are required for progress in students’ degrees. Progress reports can be entered by clicking the URL in each invitation email for progress report submissions addressed to the faculty member. The invitation email will be sent from a member of the student success office and will contain instructions, resources, and the desired submission timeframe. Faculty can also send ad hoc alerts at any time by clicking on “Issue Alert” in SeawolfTracks.

Mid-Term Grades: Faculty are asked to post mid-term grades, particularly for first year, general education, and “gateway” courses that are required for progress in students’ degrees.  Mid-term grades can be entered through the Faculty Services tab in UAOnline (click Enter Grades), anytime between February 14th and March 4th.  Providing mid-term grades during this window allows advisors to conduct outreach to underperforming students, encouraging and supporting them to make needed adjustments.

ASSESSING LEARNING THROUGH QUIZZES AND EXAMINATIONS

Low-Stakes versus High-Stakes Assessments: Please remember that multiple, scaffolded low-stakes assessments can demonstrate student achievement equally as well as a few high-stakes assessments. Low-stakes assessments are proven to be less stressful for learners, and allow them to demonstrate improvement over time. Our Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence has several resources on this topic, if you would like to learn more.

Timing of Quizzes, Examinations and Other Assessments: If you are teaching courses that meet on specific days and at specific times, you may require scheduled quizzes, examinations, and other assessments. However, these scheduled assessments must be held during a regularly scheduled class session, as published in the official class schedule.

If you are teaching an asynchronous distance course that does not meet on specific days and at specific times, you must allow for asynchronous quizzes, examinations, and other assessments. Students selected the asynchronous course in part due to the flexibility offered by asynchronous delivery.

Approaches to Quizzes, Examinations, and Other Assessments: Quizzes, examinations, and other assessments can be delivered in a range of ways. They may be delivered in class, given via Blackboard, given at the UAA Testing Center (Anchorage), administered through Disability Support Services (DSS, Anchorage), at a designated community campus location, or even proctored remotely using software like (but not limited to) RPNow. With the exception of accessibility practices pertaining to students receiving academic accommodations via DSS, no particular approach is required or mandated: select the option that best meets your program requirements, instructional needs, and the needs of your learners. If you would like to review or revise your approach to quizzes or examinations, consider the strategies and resources found under “Adapting Assessments” on the Preparing to Teach Online website or reach out to an Instructional Designer at uaa_design@alaska.edu for more individualized consultation.

In-Person Proctored Examinations: The UAA Testing Center, located in the Consortium Library in Anchorage (LIB 213), is available for students to take proctored exams, whether on the computer or “paper and pencil.” In-person proctoring is available at community campus locations, too. Proctoring in the UAA Testing Center and other community campus locations is available at no charge to the student for courses taught at any UAA, UAF, or UAS campus. Students are charged for proctoring of non-UA courses. Testing space may be limited due to social distancing requirements. Students needing to sign up for a time at the Anchorage location should do so in advance through this link. Sign up approaches may vary at community campus locations. 

Remotely Proctored Examinations: Remote proctoring is possible, but not mandated. This approach can be challenging for students; such systems can increase academic anxiety and there can be substantial challenges associated with having the required technology, too. If remote proctoring is essential to your course, provide your students with a clear picture of the testing experience for your course by familiarizing them with the system you will use and ensuring that they know about the technology tools they will need. Faculty Development and Instructional Support’s Testing Resources webpage may be useful in helping you set up quizzes and examinations, prepare for remote proctoring, and think about the low stakes quizzes or practice tests you should offer to help students become comfortable with the proctoring system, allowing them to feel at ease when their performance on a test really counts.

Communicating Assessment Approaches to Students: In terms of system and technology requirements, be sure you understand and outline the specific details and system requirements in your syllabus, enabling students to arrange for the technology they need to perform well in your course. Unfortunately, Chromebooks, an affordable and popular tool used by many students, are not compatible with RPNow, the remote proctoring platform supported through Faculty Development and Instructional Support. If you opt to give quizzes or exams using RPNow, but have students who do not have an RPNow-capable setup (Windows or Mac, recent OS, camera, quiet room free of distractions, etc.), please direct them to the Consortium Library. The Consortium Library has RPNow-designated laptops available for check out, as well as quiet areas and study rooms that may be used for testing. Additional information on technology checkout for students is available on the Consortium Library’s website. No matter the assessment method or proctoring approach you select, expectations regarding all requirements for quizzes and exams should be addressed in a clear and complete manner in the syllabus.

Last Day of Class / Final Examinations: All classes that have scheduled meeting days / times, except for some hybrid courses, must meet on the designated last day during final exam week. The spring final exam week schedule is available via the Registrar’s website. Inform your students about the date, time, and expectations of the last day of class as part of your overall course schedule. If you are not using the designated time for a final examination, please plan to use that time for a regular class meeting, in order to meet credit hour requirements. If you are not administering an examination, consider taking advantage of this time to debrief the learning that has taken place during the semester, assist students in thinking about what’s next for their learning in this area, or encourage other types of student reflections. Any exceptions to the meeting day / time of a final examination must be approved by the provost, through your dean.

Thank you all for your attention to these items, and your dedication to our students.  UAA is committed to supporting you, just as you are committed to the students.  If you have questions about courses, grading, or need additional information, your dean can provide assistance.  You can always reach out to me directly as well (drunge@alaska.edu) with specific questions or for clarification.

Sincerely, 

Denise Runge, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs