Professor Proposes Letting Students Choose Own Grades and Only Positive Comments in Class to “Reduce Stress”

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A university professor is examining changes to the traditional classroom experience through a proposed “stress reduction policy” that would allow students to choose their own grades, use various materials during tests, and ensure “only positive comments about presentations will be given in class.” The intent is to lower “emotional reactions” that could have “profound consequences” in the classroom.

As reported by Fox News, Dr. Richard Watson, a professor at the University of Georgia, proposed the change for two of his business courses scheduled for this fall. The “stress reduction policy,” which was posted by Campus Reform, would help students avoid situations that could prompt negative “emotional reactions” that may affect their future.

Along with the ability to choose their grade and have open book exams, another change would include designing tests to “assess low-level mastery of the course material.” Exams would also be created based on only requiring half of the “allotted time” to complete for “the majority of students.”

Those attending his classes would also have a built in out if a “group meeting” became stressful. Students would have the option to leave any meetings immediately if they “feel stressed by your group’s dynamic,” and they aren’t required to provide an explanation.

Watson did acknowledge the approach “might hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material,” but goes on to assert that those objectives are “ultimately” the responsibility of the student. He will, however, “provide every opportunity for you to gain a high-level mastery.”

On Tuesday, the University of Georgia did issue a formal statement regarding the proposed changes. Benjamin C. Ayers, the dean of the Terry College of Business, stated the policy “did not conform with the University’s rigorous expectations” and that the plan would not be implemented.

Ayers specifically spoke regarding the option for students to choose their grades, saying, “[Watson’s] grading policy would allow students inappropriate input into the assignment of their own grades.”

He closed the statement, saying, “The University of Georgia upholds strict guidelines and academic policies to promote a culture of academic rigor, integrity, and honesty. These are core values of the institution.”