We live and we learn, a common saying nowadays due to things changing because of the pandemic we are all living in. Last fall 2020 semester for ONU students was a unique one, the semester started early and ended early with no breaks at all. It was definitely a stressful time for not only the students but faculty too. We learned a semester with no breaks was too hard, stressful, overwhelming, and didn’t give everyone an opportunity to perform at their best. We live and we learn though.
For the Spring 2021 semester, ONU administration has tried to accommodate the students the best it can. The students were given three off days of school throughout the semester. However, specifically the Getty College of Arts & Sciences administration board has implemented an additional stress reliever for students. Here is the new adjustment to the Spring 2021 syllabi for A&S students “A single solution will not adequately handle all of the problems one would have and still maintain an effective educational environment. In the interest of fairness and transparency, individual faculty members will explain the measures they took to relieve the pressure students are experiencing…”.
What does this mean? Well, each professor in the college has the obligation to implement some way or something to take stress off students. As the A&S college is the biggest college on campus there are many faculty members and many of them are doing different things.
The variety of things faculty are doing to accommodate this are, reducing assignments or moving assignments to be completed in class, allowing students to skip a quiz, giving a week with no homework, giving students a class day off or optional lab days, etc.
In response to this, faculty had to reevaluate everything they were doing and figure out how to do it better and more efficiently for them and the students. They had to look at the big picture of what they are trying to get across and highlight what is most important. However, how do you associate stress with an assignment? To one student it isn’t stressful but to another it can completely overwhelm them.
It has been hard on credited programs to do this as their schedules are pretty tight. Director of the School of Health and Behavioral Studies Dr. Kami Fox explained “The work I give isn’t busywork, it is important work, especially group work. The assignments have informational values and I want to do right by the students and help them succeed, so cutting assignments was hard. One thing I did was give the option to drop their lowest test score.”
For the faculty that have reduced assignments and class days it has been also beneficial for them as it allows them to spend less time on grading and given them time to focus more on the student’s success. It has taken some stress off their shoulders as transitioning to online or hybrid class has been quite a hassle for faculty. Even if this implementation hasn’t taken a great deal of stress off everyone’s shoulder the off days throughout the semester have been valued from both parties.
The students have been appreciative of their professors for implementing whatever they can. It’s given the students more time to actually process the course information and give better quality assignments and test scores. Director of the School of Math, Science, and Technology Dr. Bradley Wile put it into beautiful words “This isn’t a normal year. We are trying to take care of each other and be there more for each other. Being there for each other has improved communication and de-stressed students from being stressed. That everything will be okay.”
Once this semester ends, it will be interesting to look back on these things we have done and analyze how they really affected us; how much it has actually benefited the students and if it is something we want to carry over to the Fall 2021 semester.