A University of Georgia professor has adopted a “stress reduction policy” that will allow students to select their own grades if they “feel unduly stressed” by the ones they earned.
According to online course syllabi for two of Dr. Richard Watson’s fall business courses, he has introduced the policy because “emotional reactions to stressful situations can have profound consequences for all involved.”
As such, if students feel “unduly stressed by a grade for any assessable material or the overall course,” they can “email the instructor indicating what grade [they] think is appropriate, and it will be so changed” with “no explanation” being required.
“If in a group meeting, you feel stressed by your group’s dynamics, you should leave the meeting immediately and need offer no explanation to the group members,” the policy adds, saying such students can “discontinue all further group work” with their remaining grade being “based totally on non-group work.”
Similarly, when it comes to “tests and exams” for Watson’s “Data Management” and “Energy Informatics” courses, all will be “open book and open notes” and “designed to assess low level mastery of the course material" (the "Stress Reduction" section has been removed from both syllabi, but an archived version of the "Data Management" syllabus has been provided here).
Finally, for in-class presentations, Watson will allow “only positive comments” to be made, while “comments designed to improve future presentations will be communicated by email.”
Watson, notably, does concede that “while this policy might hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material,” those outcomes are ultimately a student’s “responsibility,” though he promises to “provide every opportunity for [students] to gain high level mastery.”
Campus Reform reached out to Watson - a “Regents Professor” at the university, a title “bestowed by the Board of Regents on truly distinguished faculty” - but did not receive a response in time for publication.