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Concordia adopts pass-fail grading for fall semester

"Students seem to be hardest hit by the physical and social isolation that comes with this extended period of telelearning," says Anne Whitelaw, Concordia's acting executive vice-president of academic affairs.
"Students seem to be hardest hit by the physical and social isolation that comes with this extended period of telelearning," says Anne Whitelaw, Concordia's acting executive vice-president of academic affairs.

Concordia University will allow its students to replace their final grade with a pass or fail grade for one of their courses in the fall semester.

This measure was used by most Quebec universities in the last winter session after teaching was quickly switched to a virtual mode. It allows the student to drop the course with the failing grade so it doesn’t affect the student’s grade-point average.

“Students seem to be hardest hit by the physical and social isolation that comes with this extended period of telelearning,” said Anne Whitelaw, Concordia’s acting executive vice-president of academic affairs.

Students had the opportunity to choose a pass/fail option for all their courses last winter, but this time they will only be able to take advantage of it in one of their courses this fall. They will have the same option in the winter session.

Whitelaw said “not all students have an optimal learning framework to achieve their full potential during the pandemic,” but she stressed the quality of education was not compromised by the pass-fail measure.

Jade Marcil, the president of the Quebec Student Union, said the success-failure designation reduces competition between students, which also implies a reduction in stress and anxiety.

“Some professors have had great difficulty adapting the workload they have requested to the students during this remote session. So there’s a lot of stress right now,” Marcil said.

Bishop’s University made the decision last month to allow students to choose a success-fail award for their fall courses last month. The decision was made in response to requests from students.

Marcil said similar requests were made by student associations at other Quebec universities, including McGill, but they were met with a categorical no.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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