Sudbury

Laurentian University introduces 'compassionate grading'

Students at Laurentian University in Sudbury now have a new grading option, which the university says will provide "compassionate and equitable outcomes" for all students — in particular those who have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

University taking into consideration the impact of the pandemic on student success

Students at Laurentian University can now opt for a pass or fail grade for their courses. (Yvon Thériault/Radio-Canada)

Students at Laurentian University in Sudbury now have a new grading option, which the university says will provide "compassionate and equitable outcomes" for all students — in particular those who have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the university's senate approved what it's calling a "compassionate grading" system. With the system, students can choose a pass or fail designation for their courses, rather than having specific grades listed. 

"This decision will offer flexibility at a time where they [students] need it most. It is an unusual step, and one that we feel will have a positive impact on student success," said Laurentian president Robert Haché in a news release. 

The motion was brought forward to the Senate by student association representatives.

'Everyone's struggling'  

When second year Laurentian student Grace Bellmore heard the news, she says one of her first reactions was that the term "compassionate grading" was "really fitting."

Bellmore says this semester has been difficult, particularly because of the social isolation, which she says has made it difficult to stay motivated and engaged. 

Laurentian University student Grace Bellmore says she'll likely take advantage of the compassionate grading option for some of her courses. (Submitted by Grace Bellmore)

"I think with the pass / fail grade it alleviates some of that pressure, and kind of generally sends the message to everyone that everyone's struggling," Bellmore said.  

That was a realization she herself made only recently. 

"I felt like I was the only one going through this, these struggles that were new to me," Bellmore said. 

Bellmore says she'll likely take advantage of the compassionate grading option for at least some of her courses.

Sara Gauthier is a fourth year student at Laurentian University. (Submitted by Sara Gauthier)

Fourth year Kinesiology student Sara Gauthier says her school year so far has been different than most, since her semester has revolved around an internship. While she herself doesn't plan to take advantage of the pass / fail option now, she's glad it will be available to others. 

"I think this semester and this year in general has been quite a challenge on many students' mental health. And when you're struggling with mental health, your ability to perform well in school is drastically reduced, and I've seen that in many of my peers, so I think it's a fantastic way for Laurentian to show support to students who might be struggling," Gauthier said. 

Concordia University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Alberta among many others have also put in place the pass/fail system this year.

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