Message from the Provost regarding Adverse Weather Plan for Final Exams
ADVERSE WEATHER DURING FINAL EXAMS
We have to balance many considerations in planning for adverse weather during the final examination period. No plan we can devise will meet all contingencies nor please everyone. We simply must work together to overcome difficulties.
Several major constraints limit our options.
Safety has to be paramount. No final exam is worth someone’s life. Appalachian cannot attempt to conduct final exams as usual in the face of severe adverse weather. The risk is too great. Serious injuries can occur even while traversing campus.
Academic Integrity is a core value. Faculty design courses and examinations to promote and to evaluate student learning. Academic quality is a point of pride at Appalachian, and we must take all reasonable steps to preserve the integrity of courses and degrees. Accordingly, canceling one or more sessions of final exams is a step that the university would take only in extreme circumstances. Making alternative arrangements, such as online examinations or re-scheduling exams to the Adverse Weather Day (see below) will always be the first options for dealing with severe adverse weather.
Grades must be submitted by Monday, December 17. This is not an artificial institutional deadline. Failure to submit student grades has real consequences. Among other things, grades have to go on transcripts sent to employers or graduate schools; grades determine academic standing to continue at Appalachian; and grades affect eligibility for financial aid. We simply cannot have large numbers of student grades undetermined as we move into spring semester.
Transportation is a critical constraint. Approximately one-third of students depend on Appalcart, and the university does not control Appalcart schedules. If Appalcart determines that it is too dangerous to run buses, we immediately have a situation in which large numbers of students likely will miss exams through no fault of their own.
Travel plans are often made months in advance by students and faculty. While travel plans often can be changed, alterations to flight schedules, for example, tend to be costly and inconvenient. If adverse weather interferes with final exam schedules, instructors should make every effort to provide reasonable accommodations for students with travel plans.
An analysis of these constraints leads rapidly to the conclusion that we will face trade-offs in nearly any severe adverse weather situation. The plan that best reconciles our values and our circumstances involves the following options.
- Faculty members can help minimize the impact of adverse weather or exam session cancellations by developing contingency plans for online examinations or assignments in place of an in-person final exam. Learning Technology Services (LTS) can assist faculty in developing alternatives. Ideally, faculty members should plan ahead to have an option readily available, but help on short notice is also available. AsULearn (and related components, such as Mahara eportfolios) is our official, university-wide, online environment for instruction, and it will serve the needs of most faculty members. Some faculty members who routinely teach online distance education or hybrid courses (such as in the Reich College of Education) will of course use their regular online environments.
Faculty members can find workshop schedules, fill out a consultation request, and locate much other useful information at the LTS website http://lts.appstate.edu/support. The LTS helpline number is 266-4357. The Director is Dr. Steve Breiner.
- Severe adverse weather may necessitate the cancellation of final exam sessions. We are therefore establishing an Adverse Weather Day, Saturday, December 15, as a make-up exam day. If it is necessary to use that Adverse Weather Day, the Provost will provide instructions on how to proceed in providing make-up exams. In general, if circumstances allow, exams will be re-scheduled from their original day/time/place to an identical time/place on the Adverse Weather Day.
- If an in-person final examination that has been postponed due to severe adverse weather is not completed by 9:00 p.m. on the Adverse Weather Day, the examination is canceled. There will be no make-up exams, and the instructor will submit as final grades the students’ grades as they stand on that date. Final grades must be submitted by December 17.
- Special Instructions for Students with Disabilities, Students with Religious Observances, and Distance Education Students
- The Office of Disability Services (ODS) will be open on Saturday, December 15 for individuals who were scheduled to take a test in ODS but affected by university cancellations due to adverse weather. Contact ODS at 262-3056 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Students may have a religious observance on Saturday, December 15. In the event that an Adverse Weather Day for make-up exams is declared for December 15, students who wish to claim a religious observance and arrange for a proctored examination at ODS on Monday, December 17, should contact their instructor and complete the Religious Observance Request Form 48 hours before the scheduled exam. Information and forms can be found at http://ods.appstate.edu/alternatetesting/finalexams
- Distance Education students should be aware that postponement or cancellation of examinations in Boone will not necessarily affect the scheduling of exams for their course(s). Students should look for messages from their instructors (e-mail or other communications, such as through AsULearn) and monitor announcements at http://extension.appstate.edu/cancellations.php. Unless officially advised otherwise, students should take final examinations for Distance Education courses as originally scheduled. Faculty should monitor the same site for news of site closures that affect their classes.