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Georgia professor allows stressed out students to choose their own grades
A Georgia professor is allowing students to choose their own grades to reduce stress. (Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images)

Georgia professor allows stressed out students to choose their own grades

A professor at the University of Georgia will allow his fall semester students to pick their own grades in an effort to reduce the stress levels of his students.

UG Terry College of Business Data Management professor Rick Watson detailed his classroom's "stress reduction policy" on his course syllabus online, explaining that even though students may refer to their notes and books during testing, they can still request — and be granted — a grade change.

"Emotional reactions to stressful situations can have profound consequences for all involved. In order to avoid such situations in this class, the following policies will apply," the course syllabus stated.

The extremely lax testing policy is listed in detail on the syllabus: all tests will be open book and open notes, including the use of a laptop, all tests are designed so that the majority of students can finish in half the allotted time, and students are expected to achieve only "low level mastery of the course material."

In the event that the lenient testing policy is not generous enough for his students to receive a grade they find acceptable, Watson wrote:

● If you feel unduly stressed by a grade for any assessable material or the overall course, you can email the instructor indicating what grade you think is appropriate, and it will be so changed. No explanation is required, but it is requested that you consider waiting 24 hours before emailing the instructor.

● 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. Furthermore, you can request to discontinue all further group work and your grade will be based totally on non-group work.

Watson also added on the syllabus that he will not give any negative criticisms of any presentations in class but will communicate those comments privately instead.

"Only positive comments about presentations will be given in class. Comments designed to improve future presentations will be communicated by email," he wrote.

And although Watson said he recognized his style of teaching might not help students achieve a higher understanding of the course material, he tossed that responsibility back on his students.

"While this policy might hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material, ultimately these are your responsibility. I will provide every opportunity for you to gain high level mastery," he wrote.

Watson, who received the distinguished title of "Regents Professor" from the university in 2014, has worked at the school since 1989. He did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

(H/T: Campus Reform)

Several hours after publication, the course syllabus online was edited and the stress reduction policy was removed from the website.

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Sara Gonzales

Sara Gonzales

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Sara Gonzales is the host of “Sara Gonzales Unfiltered.”
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