With COVID-19 restrictions being rolled back across the country, schools and students alike are preparing to return to in-person classes in the fall. For Drexel University, part of that preparation also means repealing the Pass/No Pass option for classes this summer quarter.
While it is important to begin preparing students for the imminent return to business as usual, it is equally important to remember that many students continue to struggle with online courses. Virtual classes may be the safer option during a pandemic, but when it comes to learning course material, the difference between virtual school and a face-to-face environment can be night and day for some. This difference is reflected in students’ grades, and a Pass/No Pass option for online courses offers students the option for a less stressful approach while classes are still remote.
An anonymous survey of Triangle staff offers some insight into students who believe the P/NP option should remain for the summer.
“Many classes are still online and it is difficult to manage work,” wrote one staff member. “While we are trying our best to get everything done, the P/NP option is a nice fail safe.”
“Drexel chose to implement a pass/no pass option because online classes are unable to provide the standard learning environment that Drexel relies on for fair grading,” wrote another. “If that environment has not been restored, what standards are they grading against?”
When Drexel first announced that normal grading would return during summer classes, it was noted that the “Pass/No Pass option provided flexibility as students and faculty were adjusting to learning and teaching remotely.” After over a year of remote learning, Drexel may feel that the adjustment period granted to students is over and that everyone should be used to remote learning by now.
For some, that may be true. However, the problems persist for many others. For example, one phrase repeatedly brought up by students is “Zoom fatigue,” something that could only worsen during another quarter of remote courses. Students may also have distracting home environments or struggle to pay attention during video calls, issues that cannot be avoided and do not disappear with time.
The university notes — with good reason — on its Pass/No Pass FAQ page that students should keep in mind how using the option may affect their academic standing, financial aid, scholarships and how their transcript may appear to prospective graduate schools or employers. It has been the responsibility of students to weigh their options and take those risks.
Not everyone uses the P/NP option, but removing the option entirely takes choice away from students to decide how they want to manage their classes. Drexel students should be allowed to take responsibility for how they wish to approach online courses for the remainder of Drexel’s COVID-19 restrictions until we return to in-person classes and an unrestricted campus in the fall.