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Have your classes been cancelled because of COVID 19?

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, couscous said:

I disagree in McGill's context and maybe University of Toronto's to an extent? I think McGill will follow the lead of US schools just by virtue of the breakdown of our class, where people come from, and the fact the faculty considers us more "international" in nature. 

Top US schools were the first to close weeks ago and Canadian schools followed through just last week. I am certain they are looking to our neighbours down south to inform some of our decision-making. 

I do agree that McGill has a greater availability of pass/fail options generally because of the Americans and that they also influenced UofTs grading scheme. But I am reasonably confident knowing how university regulatory procedures work that it is largely irrelevant in this particular situation even at those two schools that do care in other contexts what American schools are doing.

What I am not just "reasonably confident" about but am completely and totally confident about is that the decision for Canadian universities to close had almost nothing to do with the US and everything to do with the messages coming from provincial Medical Officers of Health (in fact, many didn't close until the order came down from the Medical Officer) and other experts. No one looks to the US for public health guidance at this point. You are assuming that there is causation between American schools closing and Canadian schools closing when there are far more likely factors at play.

Edited by ProfReader

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9 minutes ago, BringBackCrunchBerries said:

Sorry, but with the way examination and grading works in law school and the current timeline to the end of the term I fail to see compelling reasons to ditch grades and mandate pass/fail. 

Students who never/rarely get As tend to clamor for this during strikes and other such semester interruptions. 

Firms are not new to evaluating candidates from different schools which have different grading schemes, sometimes pass/fail, so there is also no obvious need for any type of unified approach. 

Old subject, new context. 

I've seen more A students with jobs clamouring for this than I have B or C students... B or C students are scared that a mandatory P/F will make them look even worse.

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1 minute ago, wtamow said:

I've seen more A students with jobs clamouring for this than I have B or C students... B or C students are scared that a mandatory P/F will make them look even worse.

It would. A lot of students improve after first year, and removing a whole term of improved grades - especially with a massive recession to hit soon - would unfairly hurt them.

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Just now, ProfReader said:

What I am not just "reasonably confident" about but am completely and totally confident about is that the decision for Canadian universities to close had almost nothing to do with the US and everything to do with the messages coming from provincial Medical Officers of Health (in fact, many didn't close until the order came down from the Medical Officer). No one looks to the US for public health guidance at this point. You are assuming that there is causation between American schools closing and Canadian schools closing when there are far more likely factors at play.

I actually find this point more concerning, especially in McGill's context, because they allowed 40,000 undergrads to return from reading week and only waited until the provincial Medical Officers made an announcement to students to stay home. What I saw in the US was a degree of independence and caution from universities that McGill did not share in regards to social distancing. 

True. Whether they actually looked for US public health guidance is probably moot, but I'm certain they looked for guidance on the logistics of shutting down. We don't really exist in some northern bubble and McGill is a member of the Association of American Universities which may have informed their choices a bit once they actually did choose to close the doors. Indeed, the Faculty of Law at McGill took measures faster than McGill University administration generally which tells me that they were in some way following the guidance of other institutions and not just provincial health authorities.

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5 minutes ago, wtamow said:

I've seen more A students with jobs clamouring for this than I have B or C students... B or C students are scared that a mandatory P/F will make them look even worse.

They might be scared that a p/f would make them look worse, but the curve being what it is most students with mediocre grades just continue to get mediocre grades. Generally, the fears aren't warranted.

3 minutes ago, pzabbythesecond said:

It would. A lot of students improve after first year, and removing a whole term of improved grades - especially with a massive recession to hit soon - would unfairly hurt them.

Improvement narratives are nice but not the norm. Mandatory p/f would only hypothetically hurt a very, very small portion of students. And I say that as someone who thinks everything should be graded. I miss being graded. Grade my posts!

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

The bigger issues are things like University and Faculty regulations. It's not like one person unilaterally makes the decision and so all of that discussion has to happen.

Do faculties have regulations in place for pandemics? 

Edited by Tagger

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1 minute ago, couscous said:

I actually find this point more concerning, especially in McGill's context, because they allowed 40,000 undergrads to return from reading week and only waited until the provincial Medical Officers made an announcement to students to stay home. What I saw in the US was a degree of independence and caution from universities that McGill did not share in regards to social distancing. 

True. Whether they actually looked for US public health guidance is probably moot, but I'm certain they looked for guidance on the logistics of shutting down.

You seem to be unjustifiably extrapolating McGill's example to the rest of Canada.

Yes, McGill let people return after reading week and only closed after the announcement came, but this didn't happen with many other Canadian universities. Some closed before the Medical Officer merely made some recommendations, and some after. Some closed after they were ordered closed. Some probably knew these announcements were coming before it was publicly made and did and so even though they appeared to be exercising caution, they really weren't.

Again, you seem to be "certain" of many things that you would have no reason to know. Why would Canadian universities look to the US for guidance on shutting down? That makes absolutely no sense. They have their own procedures for such things, their own regulatory processes, etc. What possible information would we have to gain from US law schools closing down a bit earlier? Even if you think that McGill is some special exception you are making generalizations to the rest of Canada that I know to be  factually inaccurate because I've held various administrative-type roles in more than one Canadian law school and worked on the shut-down process at my own school.

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1 minute ago, Tagger said:

Do faculties have regulations in place for pandemics? 

They absolutely have all sorts of emergency plans, contingency plans, etc. There are also certain high level decisions that have to be signed off on, voted on, etc. depending on the nature of the decision. There are regulations about moving exams, changing course outlines after the add/drop dates, etc., etc.,etc. There are regulations about just about everything you could imagine. There are also informal processes like a Dean consulting with whatever Assistant/Associate Dean is responsible for Academics.

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Hey guys.. not sure if this is the right place for this, but what do you guys think this means for those of us going into L1 in the fall? I'm supposed to be moving from BC to Halifax to attend Dal... obviously this will HOPEFULLY  be rectified by then, but you never know. 

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6 minutes ago, marsbar said:

Hey guys.. not sure if this is the right place for this, but what do you guys think this means for those of us going into L1 in the fall? I'm supposed to be moving from BC to Halifax to attend Dal... obviously this will HOPEFULLY  be rectified by then, but you never know. 

There's really no way to guess at this point what the world, society, and academia is going to look like in September. Best guess is that your 1L year is going to be similar to most years, maybe a little less in-person contact. Or you could all be hunting for food for survival. 

The only practical thing you really need to do before September is find somewhere to live, which you're unlikely to be doing for a few months anyway. You don't need to worry about what September's going to look like until at least late June, by which point things should (fingers crossed) be a lot clearer.

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1 hour ago, ProfReader said:

Various schools already have pass/fail options for things like clinics and other skills-based courses.

In my opinion, there is absolutely no way whatsoever that law schools are going to have any sort of unified approach to this. Several have already made their decisions.

But how many schools in Canada have a pass/fail option for 1L courses? If some schools go pass/fail and some proceed with some form of final grade it will be unfair come 2L recruits. There is no question that job applicants with a grade will be at an advantage over those with only credit. 

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On 3/17/2020 at 2:10 PM, Tagger said:

Isn't there a Canadian school (I think it's Osgoode?) that offers its students a pass-fail option? I remember reading about it here. 

I'm not sure but looks to be Osgoode.

U of M also has restrictions on how much pass/fail you can have as part of your degree. Having mandatory P/F would mess with clinical and externships that most people take in 3L which are P/F. As well as moots. 

----------------------

I'm personally torn about P/F. All my classes this semester are mandatory. I would like have a grade for them. I pretty much busted my ass to get specific feedback to improve and I've been doing extra work to up my grades. I would like to carry on with the upward trend I've been building since last semester.

I don't object to P/F in and of itself. I object to the prejudical effect that it will have for articling. I'm sorry to say that I'm pretty cynical about firms or whoever not taking into account what an unprecedented situation this is and not using a P/F grade as an easy way to tell people to POF. We have legit built our profession around grades and "who you know". So much so that people were still contemplating having a networking event this past Monday(!). 

I'm also really concerned that we have not heard anything from any of the Law Societies about contingency plans for the articling recruit. Robson is not extending deadlines or delaying exams cause Manitoba applications for articling are due early May. It's already a tight window to get grades in and transcripts sent out. We'd be so screwed if they delayed exams but the Law Society doesn't accommodate.

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Posted (edited)
50 minutes ago, ufaalberta said:

But how many schools in Canada have a pass/fail option for 1L courses? If some schools go pass/fail and some proceed with some form of final grade it will be unfair come 2L recruits. There is no question that job applicants with a grade will be at an advantage over those with only credit. 

Osgoode has had it for strikes. Calgary has it for their skills based course. It is just not something that the Federation is fussed about, let alone individual law societies as you stated. They are concerned with the material students are tested on and not how they are tested. Their main concern is not fairness in the recruit. Their main concern is that incompetent people aren't turned out into the profession.

Edited by ProfReader

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1L here: I'm experiencing some serious anxiety over this because on one hand I think I have learned so much from term 1 and the december exam cycle and have really ramped up my study habits and what not so I would love to have the opportunity to show an improvement in my grades in April, but on the other hand this whole school closure/online class thing has really thrown me off and I am having such a hard time right now with additional worries outside of school that I feel it really is impacting my ability to effectively learn/study. 

I am also concerned that the differences in grades for april may be more reflective of how people are able to adapt to this sudden change, and how many external obligations they may have (family, caregiving, mental health etc.) that will get in the way of studying. 

There have also been concerns about an "opt-in" pass/fail to be potentially unfair or prejudice against those who do opt-in, creating pressure to opt-out which would then defeat the whole purpose. 

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19 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

 Their main concern is that incompetent people aren't turned out into the profession.

I get that, but isn't there a reason for having resumes that include past work experience/extracurriculars with references and what not? Everyone who gets into law school has proven themselves to be competent academically... perhaps more weight could be put on other factors given this extraordinary situation that can have serious impacts on academic performance that has nothing to do with someone's competence level in practice. 

There is so much talk about how exams aren't necessarily reflective of one's true knowledge and capabilities (and how can a 3 hour exam in one class on one day really be?). Employers mention how they don't really like the process of basing applications on grades, but do it out of convenience or just because "that is the way it is." This could potentially be a reason to make policy changes in the hiring process.

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3 minutes ago, thebadwife said:

I get that, but isn't there a reason for having resumes that include past work experience/extracurriculars with references and what not? Everyone who gets into law school has proven themselves to be competent academically... perhaps more weight could be put on other factors given this extraordinary situation that can have serious impacts on academic performance that has nothing to do with someone's competence level in practice. 

There is so much talk about how exams aren't necessarily reflective of one's true knowledge and capabilities (and how can a 3 hour exam in one class on one day really be?). Employers mention how they don't really like the process of basing applications on grades, but do it out of convenience or just because "that is the way it is." This could potentially be a reason to make policy changes in the hiring process.

I don't know what you are asking here. The line of discussion was about whether law societies care about whether schools use pass/fail. I was saying that they don't. They want students to get the right legal content but aren't troubled about evaluations (letter grades, percents, the UofT system, pass/fail, etc.). You bring up a variety of reasons why schools might reconsider grading or how firms might view grades from this year, but none of that changes the law society question that I was responding to. Unless I'm missing your question?

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Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

 Their main concern is that incompetent people aren't turned out into the profession.

At U of T it was essentially impossible to fail a class. You had to plagiarize or have florid, prolonged psychosis. You really could write anything on an exam/paper and get your P. For their part, the professors routinely reused exams, and gave their yearly show of indignance/indifference when pressed on it by the new crop of students.

Edited by Eeee
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6 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

Osgoode has had it for strikes. Calgary has it for their skills based course. It is just not something that the Federation is fussed about, let alone individual law societies as you stated. They are concerned with the material students are tested on and not how they are tested. Their main concern is not fairness in the recruit. Their main concern is that incompetent people aren't turned out into the profession.

We're talking around each other. I don't care about the Federation of Law Societies' view on pass/fail courses at this point. I only made the comment in passing because i wrongly believed that it might be a factor in how schools proceed with grading.

What I do care about, as a student, is that I am not disadvantaged if my school moves to pass fail and other schools do not. That's why I believe a unified approach to grading is the most equitable option for students given the unprecedented circumstances. It's disappointing to hear that schools will likely decide internally. 

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8 minutes ago, ProfReader said:

I don't know what you are asking here. The line of discussion was about whether law societies care about whether schools use pass/fail. I was saying that they don't. They want students to get the right legal content but aren't troubled about evaluations (letter grades, percents, the UofT system, pass/fail, etc.). You bring up a variety of reasons why schools might reconsider grading or how firms might view grades from this year, but none of that changes the law society question that I was responding to. Unless I'm missing your question?

Sorry, I wasn't really asking a question :). I thought @ufaalberta was discussing the implications of P/F and you were responding about whether competency could be measured from that. I must have misunderstood what you were getting at. It's been a long few days...

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1 minute ago, ufaalberta said:

What I do care about, as a student, is that I am not disadvantaged if my school moves to pass fail and other schools do not. That's why I believe a unified approach to grading is the most equitable option for students given the unprecedented circumstances. It's disappointing to hear that schools will likely decide internally. 

Those aren't irrational concerns nor is it irrational to want a unified approach. My point was just that a unified approach is never going to happen (regardless of whether it would be better for whatever reason).

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