Montreal, April 3, 2020 – While the methods for continuing and completing the Winter 2020 academic term in the context of the health crisis have varied in Quebec universities, the Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU) would like to point out that decisions related to assessments and grading are in the hands of professors and other instructors.

In these exceptional circumstances and in order to facilitate things in the context of the pandemic, various arrangements have been made, and some unions and associations, in agreement with their institutions, have consented to temporarily suspend the usual measures that relate to assessments. Other universities, also in agreement with union representatives, maintained practices in effect before the pandemic. The FQPPU is pleased to note that labour relations mechanisms, including discussions, bargaining, and the signing of letters of understanding, are being used throughout the university network.

Assessments and grading remain in the hands of professors and other instructors, and the FQPPU is committed to reminding all stakeholders in the university teaching network, particularly university administrations and the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur, of this fact. It is essential to protect instructors’ autonomy in relation to student assessments, particularly in accordance with current collective agreements and on the grounds of academic freedom.

However, a number of associations and unions have reported unusual situations in relation to student assessments and grading. Issues include the changing of a grade by a department chair, the use of software to determine the weight to attribute to the various assessments included in the final grade, the awarding of the “Satisfactory” grade, and students’ receipt of credits for a course once the assessments have been completed and the final grade is known.

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the FQPPU has been calling for assessment methods to be flexible to accommodate students for whom conditions for continuing their term are less than optimal, as well as professors for whom teaching is extremely difficult due to the pandemic. The FQPPU has suggested that various options be offered to students including the possibility of withdrawing from a course without receiving a failing grade and with a tuition refund, as well as the possibility of a course being discontinued, for which students would receive a “Satisfactory” grade if they had passed the assessments they had completed prior to the crisis. It seems wrong to us that this flexibility is being used to impose methods of assessment and grading on professors or to change a grade for which all assessments were already completed.

We are inviting FQPPU members to be vigilant and to ensure that these methods that have been implemented in the context of the pandemic remain exceptional and limited to this context. Negotiations with university administrations should include the establishment of clear guidelines that protect the rights of professors and other instructors on matters related to assessments and grading.

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The FQPPU has served as a body that brings together and represents Quebec university professors since 1991.

Source: Fédération québécoise des professeures et professeurs d’université (FQPPU)

Information: Hans Poirier, 514-843-5953 (work) or 514-755-5858 (cell)

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