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LUC The Hague: Changes in Teaching Policies during COVID-19

15 October 2020

Message from the Programme Board for all Students and Staff

Based on feedback from students, it is clear that the manner in which we communicated the recent urgent changes to teaching policy was not adequate. The framing did not reflect the intentions behind the changes, as they are fundamentally aimed at improving remote education under COVID19 for both students and staff.

Online teaching and learning creates a different classroom dynamic, requires courses to be redesigned for remote delivery and is a less energizing experience for teachers and students. While we seem to be doing well in adapting to this new learning environment, it is very intensive and has increased the workload and pressure for both staff and students. In addition the entire LUC community has to deal with the effects of the pandemic on our daily lives. Several teaching staff are reporting unsustainable pressures and are requesting support measures to prevent possible burn-out.

While LUC of course strives to offer the best online or hybrid education possible, the health of our community is the most important. This means that for the duration of the pandemic some changes will be made to keep workloads for both academic and support staff as well as students manageable.

Therefore, some changes in our teaching policies have been made, which are important for you to know. These changes have been discussed with the Board of Examiners, academic members of the Programme Council and Course Administration. These rules are effective for the time in which regular teaching is not possible due to the pandemic.

1. Deadlines for grades:

The 10-working days deadline for grades is extended to 14 working days for all assessments. It remains important for instructors to provide you with the result and feedback on time before the next assessment, so 14 working days may not be feasible for each assessment. It will depend on the number and types of assessments per course. More on this below.

This new deadline already applies to the final assessments of block 1 – so it may take a little longer before you receive your final grades this block.

2. Maximum Percentage of Final Grade per Assessment

The assessment rule of “40% max that one assessment can count toward the final grade”, is increased to 50%. This creates the option to have a bigger final assessment that you can focus on and work towards during the course rather than a lot of small assignments. For such larger assignments that constitute 50% of the final grade and are of the essay-type, instructors are required to give you an opportunity to submit a draft version first and receive feedback by the instructor and/or peer(s), before you submit the final assignment. This is of course not possible for exams that count for 50% of the grade, but instructors will make sure you are thoroughly informed about the format of the exam. We would like to stress that those instructors who would like to have a 50% assignment, need approval from the Board of Examiners before the start of the block.

This will apply from block 2 onwards.

3. Minimum number of assessments

The minimum of 3 assessments per course is reduced to 2 assessments per course. Along with above change of the assessment percentage, instructors now have the option to only have 2 assessments of 50% each for their course, spread throughout the block. It is not allowed to have for example  a paper and exam, both for 50% in reading week. Participation and presentations still cannot count toward more than 19% of the final grade. As explained under 2) instructors who wish to have 50% assessments, need approval from the Board of Examiners. The average number of assessments under the normal regulations is five, rather than the minimum of three. The Board of Examiners will monitor these changes.

Reducing the number of assessments will allow students to engage with their assignments more deeply, while fewer assignments will also mean that it is easier for an instructor to give feedback on how you are doing in the class.

For you as a student, it is important to keep in mind that fewer but larger assessments will require different preparation and longer-term planning than you are used to. As mentioned above, for essay-type of assignments, instructors must give you an opportunity to submit a draft first and provide you with feedback.

This change will also apply from block 2 onwards.

4. Flexible Teaching within Block

The seven week course format can be experienced as very intensive with online teaching, for both instructors and students. In order to create some flexibility within the block for instructors who need it, courses can be organized in a way that slightly deviates from the usual 7-week system. How this will look, will be different for each course; some instructors may choose to use an extra week without class at the start to allow for example more time to prepare their classes/videos; others could create a teaching break in the middle of the block to give the entire class some breathing room, giving you more time to work on assignments or projects, and have only office hours.

As the experiences of the past months show, online teaching makes it harder to cover the same amount of material. Instructors may want to choose to drop some content and assignments (see also points 2 and 3). In any case, instructors will make sure that the learning aims of the course can still be met and that a course doesn’t lose its prerequisite function for other courses in a major. Changes relating to the number of classes need to be approved by the Educational Director and Board of Examiners and must be announced in the syllabus before the block starts.

This change is also effective from block 2 onwards.

Decisions

Hopefully you understand that we did not take these decisions lightly, as we take the quality of our programme very seriously. As has been said so many times, the current situation is unprecedented and has a huge impact on all of us. We continuously learn from the experiences gained and adjust where needed to avoid instructor and student burn-out. If you want to share your ideas and thoughts on this, please contact your newly elected student members of the Programme Council or the student member of the Programme Board.

On a final note, we cannot urge you enough to adhere to the rules that are there to protect us all from COVID-19. Like you, your instructors are very eager to return to our regular teaching practices and we cannot wait to have full classrooms again. But that can only happen if all of us do our utmost to stop spreading the virus.

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