By Justine Sennett
It is a typical case of the grass is always greener on the other side. The students who complain about being at school, saying they would “rather be at home” are experiencing a strong urge to be back at Bryant right now as they are forced to social distance themselves while the United States battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
It started with study abroad programs being cut short, postponed, or even being cancelled. Then it was schools closing for a two week period, expelling most students from campus to allow time for self quarantining. And eventually a shift for all college courses to remain online for the rest of the semester. Although most schools have made a significant change within person-teaching, only some seemed to promote the idea of implementing a pass/fail option to help ease tensions and acknowledge anxieties of current students and professors. Bryant
administrators should place a pass/fail option into action for the current students who have no say in this new form of learning.
Bryant is a school full of highly motivated and dedicated students who have a passion for learning, especially in a classroom setting. Classes at Bryant are known for being “hands on” and “relatable” where students learn by doing rather than just listening to lectures. Students take part in sales pitches, marketing projects, and even writing their own business plans. With the sudden shift to online classes these “hands on” experiences have been proven more difficult than not for both students and professors. Freshman Victoria Oliveri states “My online classes are going okay, but I do miss being in the actual classroom.” And Christina Lussier, a current junior writes “One of the biggest challenges is the fact our classes were uprooted from the regular class setting and are expected to continue to run the same online.” She also feels that our overall learning experience has been “compromised” and that Bryant has “lost their personal touch.” With a pass/fail option available, professors are allowed to focus more on learning and growth and students are granted with more room for error and correction without the threat of a ruined GPA. Applying this kind of system would help benefit both the student and professor in this situation. Enforcing a pass/fail system gives each an opportunity to learn how to navigate this new learning and teaching environment without too much pressure on either party.
In this time of uncertainty, instituting a pass/fail plan for students would be fair and just to the students and professors who have other priorities. Since a majority of schools have been closed many children are not in school. Due to this, some students and/or professors have to care for younger siblings or children, work long hours, or may not have a way to access all classes and assignments because of location and time differences. This can lead to a lack in effort therefore resulting in bad grades, all because life got in the way. By making this semester at
Bryant pass/fail, students and professors who have been struck with other responsibilities or are in different time zones have more leeway and can feel confident that they will not fail a class or disappoint students.
While issuing a pass/fail system relieves some of the stresses regarding the new online courses for students, it can also undue stress for those who believe that their letter grades and GPAs play a defining role in future academic and career plans. Upperclassmen who may be applying to graduate school, those who are in the Honors College at Bryant, or those looking for a career in the academic field may feel that they benefit more from actual letter grades that can be calculated into a GPA. Therefore, issuing a pass/fail system for the students at Bryant would hinder opportunities for some who rely on the traditional letter grade. But, some schools are even letting their students decide which option they would prefer, so perhaps Bryant will do the same.
Ultimately, there is an argument for both sides on whether or not a pass/fail plan would be beneficial for the Bryant community. However, in this unprecedented pandemic, it seems like the most logical option. Many students are being faced with the fast paced conversion to online classes. It is a different learning experience than most of us are used to, and may take a while for everyone to adjust. With the pass/fail option it allows students and professors to take their time and to teach and learn the material without the fear that technology will become a barrier for their learning, or that unexpected responsibilities will affect their overall grade. A system that pleases everyone.