Interim grades help gauge classroom progress amidst COVID-19.
After the first six weeks of each semester, Indiana State releases each student’s individual progress in the classroom. These grades can be seen at the very bottom of each student’s MySAM on their ISU Portal once submitted by each professor. “Here at ISU we base interim grades on your work through the first six weeks of the semester, rather than at the mid-term point,” said James M. Greene, Assistant Professor in the Department of English. Interim grades serve a specific purpose for each student on campus.
“Interim grades are what a student’s grade would be in a given class based on whatever a professor determines is included in interim grades. That might sound convoluted, but this is because each professor approaches interim grades a little differently,” said Lain Mathers, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Affiliated Faculty in Gender Studies. “Interim grades are intended to give students a sense of how they are doing in their classes so they can figure out how to approach the remainder of the semester. From my perspective as a professor, interim grades help me get a big-picture view of how my students are doing, and in enough time so that if someone is having a difficult time in one of my classes, I can talk to that person to strategize about how to improve or possibly the pros and cons of dropping the class,” said Mathers.
There are mixed feelings about how interim grades are going to be this semester due to the impact of COVID-19. “My thoughts on interim grades are mixed. On the one hand, I think they are useful for students to get a sense of how they’re doing and which classes they may need to focus on for the latter part of the semester. On the other hand, I try to encourage my students to keep interim grades in perspective. This is especially the case if someone is not doing as well as they hoped,” said Mathers, “I have seen students feel very down and hard on themselves for this, and I try to discourage such an approach. Grades, in a general sense, are not an absolute measurement of one’s intelligence... Interim grades are important, but instead of a deterministic view into the future, I try to encourage students to see interim grades for what they are: a check-in.”
Grades may have changed given the changes that have come with COVID-19. “Online classes slow down learning. There’s other factors of COVID that I have to worry about,” said Junior Engineering major, Rasheed Jones.
Teachers on campus have had a learning curve figuring out how to best teach their class with different formats this year. “All things considered it is going pretty well! I was nervous at the start of the semester because all my classes are online, and two are synchronous, [which is] a new experience for me,” said Mathers.
Greene has a similar experience with teaching classes from home. “My semester has been fine, if a little strange. I miss having regular classroom meetings with students, I miss students dropping by for office hours, and I miss being in my office, where I don’t have all the distractions of home around me all day.”
Fears still linger throughout campus during COVID-19. “I’m fearful of the same thing everybody is, I assume—an out-of-control COVID outbreak that harms several members of the ISU community,” said Greene.
Other students agree, as it impacts many things with their education and ability to learn. “The one thing that I am most fearful of this semester is the Coronavirus because it seems to be getting worse every day,” said Junior Computer Engineering Technology Major, Jalen Mallory.
Despite all of the hardships and complications of online classes and COVID-19, students and staff are hoping for the best and working through it. “My best advice would be to use your planner to stay organized, use your mask to stay safe, and find a way to get some exercise or movement every day to stay sane,” said Greene.
Mathers’ advice to survive this semester is to “be kind to yourself as much as possible.”