Faculty Pass Motion Approving Online Summer Courses

Kip Lynch ’22

Staff Writer

The faculty met on Tuesday, Apr. 14 and passed a motion approving the offering of online summer courses for students. This decision comes after an email was sent to the Trinity community Tuesday afternoon by Acting Dean of Faculty Sonia Cardenas and Vice President for Financial Affairs Dan Hitchell announcing the decision to suspend all in-person summer classes, research, and employment. 

The motion reflects an effort by the faculty to accommodate students who may need to enroll in summer courses in order to remain on track for the completion of their major or graduation. Under the approved motion, courses offered during the summer session require that “faculty must teach the courses with a letter grade assessment and adhere to the engaged learning hour requirements associated with the credit amount offered.” The courses will continue to maintain Trinity’s academic standards, requiring the fulfillment of “approximately 158 hours of engaged learning per 1 credit course.” However, the remote summer courses permit flexibility in their intellectual offerings, allowing satisfaction of “engaged learning” by a “combination of direct instruction (synchronous or asynchronous), peer learning, and individual learning through homework, study, papers, etc.”

The motion passed with 97 votes in favor and three abstentions. The Tripod spoke with Faculty Secretary Mark Stater following the vote, who added that the “motion having passed, I am glad that we can now move forward with a summer session at Trinity.” 

The motion also limits students from enrolling in remote learning courses for credit at any institution other than Trinity College because “online course offerings from other institutions (and MOOCs) tend to be quite uneven and cannot be verified as up to the standards of a course offered for credit at Trinity.” If the course is not offered at Trinity and required to stay on track for graduation, students may petition the Curriculum Committee to count remote learning courses from another institution.

Students, generally, must clear courses they have taken at other institutions with the College’s Registrar before counting them for credit. Departments also retain the right to determine if credit from other institutions will count toward their majors and other offerings and the motion provides that the Curriculum Committee will “evaluate and make a decision…in consultation with the relevant department(s).” The faculty also indicated in their meeting that available summer course offerings may be invited and expanded in the coming weeks. 

Despite the decision to move to remote learning for the summer 2020 session, the faculty noted in the motion that they reaffirm that “outside of the current state of emergency… [Trinity courses] can only be offered as in-person courses.” The faculty similarly affirmed that the “in-person model is central to the pedagogical identity of the college.” 

Trinity had previously suspended in-person classes on campus on Mar. 16 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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