If you’re stressed out by your grade, just change it … say, what?

Here’s one from the “great moments in higher education” file.


According to Inside Higher Education

Rick Watson — a business professor at the University of Georgia’s Terry School of Business — included a “stress-reduction policy” in his course syllabus. syllabus

Under the policy, students could change their grades if they felt “unduly stressed” by the one they received, and leave group work at any time, without any explanation, if they felt stressed by the situation.



Here is the complete stress-reduction policy ….


Prof. Watson’s Stress Reduction Policy

All tests and exams will be open book and open notes, including the use of material on your laptop.

All tests and exams will be designed to be completed in half the allotted time by the majority of students.

All tests and exams will be designed to assess low-level mastery of the course material.

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 nongroup work.

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

Before you panic, rest assured that Prof. Watson acknowledged that “… this policy might hinder the development of group skills and mastery of the class material.”

But, he admonished students that “ultimately these are your responsibility.“

And, he offered to provide “every opportunity for you to gain high-level mastery.”.


“After criticism from right-leaning media outlets …” (<= Inside Higher Ed’s observation, not mine)

Prof. Watson was “counseled” by UGA administrators and “voluntarily” removed the stress-reduction policy from his syllabus because:

“The syllabus provision did not conform with the university’s rigorous expectations and policy regarding academic standards for grading.”

So, now the poor babies may have to do better work for better grades.

Imagine that …


Highlight of the story (for me) is that – by deduction – left-learning media outlets didn’t see the stress-reduction policy as a problem.

Maybe that’s part of the problem ….



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