The Mathematical Sciences Department Operating Plan for Fall 2020 is here
For University plan click here
Covid-19 and the Math Department
In Fall 2020, all MATH and STAT courses will be held as Online Synchronous. This means that there will be no physical presence at the university, and classes will have a scheduled class time when you meet and interact with your professor and your classmates. We feel that this is the best way to interact and work together in our classes in these days of social distancing and masks, and the safest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What materials will I need for class?
A. Particulars depend on the class. Common requirements are an electronic device with a webcam and internet access, and a space to be in during class time. You may have quizzes or materials through Canvas, or need to upload photos or scans of work, or be able to run lockdown browser or respondus monitor. Details should be on your syllabus and we hope to get these out early via Canvas.
Q. Do I have to come to class?
A. The answer is the same now as it would have been a year ago. Yes. We try to make this experience much like that in previous years with the exception that we see each other’s faces remotely. Interaction and participation are necessary parts of this. Classes may have in-class quizzes, in-class work, presentations, and so forth. Many classes will have recordings of class sessions. This is a silver lining of the current situation. But these are not a replacement for being in class.
Q. Are courses now an automatic pass because of the virus situation?
A. No. Our pass rates and grades in the spring and summer were very much the same as in the fall.
Q. I learn better the old way.
A. This is a very valid comment for many people. You have spent your life learning to learn one way, just like we have spent our lives learning to teach one way. We want to be leaning over your shoulder, pointing at an equation, talking back and forth about the idea behind something, and having you discover the next step. With masks and social distancing, we can do this better from 10 miles apart than we can from 10 feet apart.
We aim to make our classes have as much human feel and interaction as possible. Interaction is a two way street. We need you to try your best to interact with us too. We need to see your faces and hear your voices and questions as much as you need to see ours. Let’s do our best together.
Q. People cheat in online classes.
A. People cheat in all classes, and nobody will ever stop that. The aim is to keep cheating to a minimum and have students who do not cheat be confident that they are not placed at a disadvantage for being honest, honorable people. Among techniques we use are various platforms for monitoring students while taking exams, varying questions and phrasing, and placing emphasis on in-class face to face work as well. We also sent a very healthy number of academic dishonesty reports this summer. However, a person should not go sleepless worrying that a misunderstanding of instructions might result in a first time offense. Penalties for this can be quite light. But the university keeps track, and penalties for repeat academic dishonesty escalate quickly up to suspension from the university.
Q. Will there be office hours for my class?
A. Yes! And please use them. Each instructor will post Zoom office hours at specified times. These will be posted on your Canvas course page as well as on our Contact page (inset link).
Q. Can I get some tutoring help?
A. Yes, up to a certain level of class (roughly, classes up to and including Calc I, II and Stat 251). And you are encouraged to use our online tutoring service. Just click on our Online Tutoring link at <insert link here>, and you will be connected with a tutor right away. You will get personal tutoring absolutely free by people trained to help in these courses. For higher level classes, your professor is the best source of help.
Q. Any advice?
A. This pandemic will end. The students that remain focused will come out of things in good shape, probably as tougher and more capable people than without the hardship. We can provide you opportunity, but the rest is up to you, as it always has been. One more thing … laugh, smile, and be nice to people.
Our department is committed to providing you the same quality education as before all the mess, and doing so in a way that keeps everyone safe. We realize that times are difficult for everyone. But we are fortunate to have modern tools that help us get through this mess and make progress in our lives.