Midterm Feedback from Undergraduate Students (October 12, 2020)

[Summary: This message shares mid-semester student feedback with faculty; topics include assessment scheduling, length of asynchronous lecture recordings, workload expectations, and communication of deadlines.]

To: FAS faculty, faculty from professional schools teaching fall 2020 courses in Yale College
Cc: FAS Dean’s office staff, Yale College Dean’s office staff, registrar’s office, provost’s office

Dear FAS faculty and Yale College instructors,

Remarkable as it may seem, we have already reached the midpoint of the Fall 2020 semester. Thank you for your hard work, your patience and understanding, and the empathy and care that you have extended to your students and colleagues during the past weeks. 

It is in the spirit of care, as articulated in the Guiding Principles for Teaching and Learning circulated to all faculty and students at the beginning of the semester, that we write to share feedback that we have received from undergraduate students. We hope that it will help you as you plan for the remaining weeks of the semester.

  • Students in distant time zones have shared concerns about the scheduling of tests and examinations. For some of them, time differences have meant their assessments are scheduled to take place during the middle of the night in their local time. If feasible, you may allow students to take these assessments at alternate times; granting this accommodation is at the discretion of each individual instructor. [Please note, though, that final examinations, which also allow for flexibility, have their own special requirements for scheduling. You can find those here.]
  • While asynchronous teaching allows for some flexibility with course timing, we ask that you respect the time allotted for your class meetings. Students have indicated that some instructors of asynchronous courses have, for example, posted lectures that run significantly longer than their scheduled duration. When students enroll, they expect that the duration of course meetings will align with the duration indicated in the course catalog and they plan their course schedules accordingly. We encourage you to keep this in mind as you plan future lectures.
  • While course workload expectations are at the discretion of each individual instructor, we remind you that most students are enrolled in three, four, or more courses in addition to your course. Students generally enroll in four or five courses every semester, in some cases more. This semester, students overall are taking a higher course load than usual. We encourage you to take this into consideration when establishing expectations, difficulty level, number, and deadlines for your course assignments.
  • Finally, we have heard concern from students who have not received timely information about assignment due dates or changes to due dates. We encourage you to communicate information about deadlines clearly and frequently.  

Additional resources regarding online teaching are available on the FAS website and from the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.

Thank you again for all your work for your students and for Yale.  

With best wishes for the second half of the semester,

Tamar and Marvin

Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Marvin Chun
Dean, Yale College