As We Approach the End of the School Year
|Above copied from C&EN|
As Claire Jarvis notes in an article published in Chemical & Engineering News, some schools have decided to give students "the option of switching from letter grades to pass-fail in their courses". My school, Georgetown University, belongs to this list, It is not surprising that some of my students have recently sought my advice on whether they should take this option or not.
I think with all the work and energy my students have poured into the course, they all deserve a reward at the end. The fact that they are still engaged at this time is truly worth something. I do need to prepare all of them for the future so I have remained faithful to the curriculum. We have covered not just valence bond and crystal field theories, but also ligand field theory. We have continued with the syllabus, getting to nuclear chemistry in the last two lectures. Now, it is my job to make my students realize that they have actually learned something during these weeks where everyone is under a stay-at-home order. What this requires is complete transparency. Only pleasant surprises are acceptable at this time. What I need is an honest assessment with one clear goal: To use grades to reward the efforts of my students. Most of my students are likely to be in the front line in the next pandemic. The least I can do at this time is to help my students begin to have faith in themselves. I am hoping that grades can do that.