December 11, 2020 - TO: umdearborn-all-faculty, umdearborn-leo-faculty

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

I hope you all had a satisfying Thanksgiving break and are doing well during these remaining weeks of the Fall semester. Forgive me for adding yet another (and lengthy) email to your inbox folder but I want to share a few items in what I hope is one of my last emails to you all before finals and the holiday break are upon us. 

Upcoming Exam Thoughts:

As we roll towards exams at the end of this exhausting semester, I first want to say again I appreciate all that you have done to rise to the challenge of teaching during COVID. The pressures have been painfully apparent, but you have met them with good will and grace.

There remain some knotty areas in our response, of course. For example, the issue of exam monitoring. Not just on our campus but nationwide, online testing has prompted an escalation of distrust between faculty and students, leading to students sharing creative workarounds that stymie technological monitoring. Sadly, there have also been many instances of students mistakenly flagged as cheaters resulting in a twitter account dedicated to “retweeting evidence of emotional harm” from academic surveillance software, expressions of congressional concern, and lawsuits.

Our campus chose to put students first during this remote academic year in making the decision to discourage such surveillance because of privacy concerns, constraints on equitable access, increased stress for students, and false positives. There is increasing concern that it is often our more vulnerable students who are impacted. Nor is it clear that the strategy is successful. As you can see in this demonstration of a zoom video background that looks like a student taking a test, proctoring via Zoom conveys a false sense of security and raises the question whether it is worth the invasion of privacy and loss of trust between faculty and students.

Please consider these factors, and please know that you are not in this alone. You can rethink your final assessment during a working meeting with a Hub Instructional Designer in a confidential and non-evaluative setting. The Office of Digital Education and your unit’s Canvas support personnel can help faculty with questions about Canvas or other technological tools.

Fall 2020 Early Warning Outcomes Summary:

First, many many thanks to all the faculty who participated in the second round of the Early Warning process throughout October. During the month of November, Advisors, Learning Centers, Tutoring, and the Dean of Students Office worked with 352 students by phone, email, or virtual meetings to discuss issues or concerns and receive support. Updates on the early warning program -- such as faculty response rates and additional details on student outcomes -- will be provided in the January 2021 Success Press newsletter.

Conflicts Between the Academic and Religious Calendars:

As you all know, UM-Dearborn is a diverse university with many in our campus community observing and celebrating a variety of different faiths and religions. As a result, I want to remind faculty of our campus policy on Conflicts Between the Academic and Religious Calendars. The policy reads, “every reasonable effort should be made to help students avoid negative academic consequences when their religious obligations conflict with academic requirements.” Students are required to provide faculty with notice of the dates of the religious holiday(s) for which they will be absent by no later than the drop/add deadline which is January 27 for the Winter 2021 semester. Faculty shall provide students with an opportunity to make up any missed work (e.g., examinations or assignments), without penalty. 

UM-Dearborn Syllabus Template and Canvas Guidelines:

As you all prepare for the upcoming winter term, I want to remind faculty to utilize the UM-Dearborn Syllabus Template and include in your Canvas course shell a few required components.

First, as is tradition on our campus, all UM-Dearborn faculty are required to utilize the UM-Dearborn Syllabus Template when writing their syllabi. If you are planning to teach on campus at all in the Winter semester (after March 1), please be sure to include the Classroom Face Covering policy. Note, the template has not changed from the Fall 2020 semester and you can access the UM-Dearborn Syllabus Template webpage here.

In addition, as you develop your Canvas course shells please make sure to include the following:

  • Standard Course Syllabus – ideally placed under the syllabus tab on your course page

  • Assignments/Quizzes with due dates and point values, regardless of submission type (in-class or online)

  • Gradebook with accurate points and weights for all items, consistent with the course syllabus, and set up at the start of term

As a reminder, the Mardigian Library team created a student-centered “Canvas Basics” set of videos to help students who may have trouble navigating Canvas. You can find the videos and other useful items in Canvas Commons under “Remote Learning at UM-Dearborn” or view it on the Mardigian page (#2 on the list): https://library.umd.umich.edu/remotelearningbasics/

Of course, there are numerous other Canvas tools available to enhance your teaching power, improve students’ learning experience, and save time and effort for all, thereby allowing opportunities for focus on other things. For more information or UM-Dearborn specific faculty support for Canvas see: https://umdearborn.edu/canvas/canvas-faculty or consider Canvas Course Templates, developed by the Hub, with dates already entered to save you that step.

Winter 2021 Final Exam Schedule:

My team and I have received some inquiries about the Winter 2021 final exam schedule. The schedule is being finalized and will be published soon on the Registrar’s Office Final Exam Schedule webpage. A separate announcement will go out making note of the schedule’s publication.

Engaged Learning Guidelines for Winter 2021: 

In late spring changes were made to the guidelines and process for in-person engaged learning, which will continue through Winter 2021. Any field courses, placements, internships/co-ops, or other off-campus engaged learning experiences must follow these guidelines. Please review if you are teaching or plan to teach any courses that meet the definitions for in-person engaged learning off campus. 

I know I have expressed this many times before, but I do thank you for all that you are doing. We are almost to the break, when I encourage you to take much needed down time and have as merry and rejuvenative holiday season as you deserve.

With my best wishes, and take care,

Sue

Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Back to top of page