Pass/Fail option will take pressure off of students during stressful times

Cleveland State University Provost Jianping Zhu announced in an email to all students that the university would offer a Pass/Fail option for the Spring 2020 semester to reduce students’ stress as they adjust to the new learning conditions and changes to daily life.

The Spring 2020 COVID-19 Semester Grading Basis Request is a provision that came as the result of a task force that included the university’s president and provost. Based on feedback from faculty and students, the task force concluded that the Pass/Fail option would be in the best interest of the students.

Anup Kumar, Ph.D., professor and adviser in the School of Communication, said that the decision was not made over concerns regarding the switch to online learning.

“It was not primarily because the online teaching environment was not conducive to doing [well], it was primarily based on things happening in their own families,” Kumar said. “Losing jobs, people being sick — there were other kinds of circumstances that were hindering their progress.”

“In that kind of a situation this was to lower the anxiety,” he said.

The university encourages students to talk the decision through with an adviser before submitting the request. Taking a course as a Pass/Fail may not be the right decision depending on a student’s GPA and course grade.

“It’s a prudent decision based on maintaining your GPA,” Kumar said. “The most important criteria should be: ‘Am I maintaining my GPA by doing this, or improving it?’”

More information, including frequently asked questions and a list of classes that are not eligible, is available at

The deadline to submit the Spring 2020 COVID-19 Semester Grading Basis Request on CampusNet is April 24.

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