Quinnipiac’s academic instruction plan for fall 2020

Professors prepare for upcoming semester with ‘Q-Flex’ learning model

Nicole McIsaac, Copy Editor

Professors are gearing up with strategies to tackle the new approach of hybrid and online learning, as Quinnipiac University’s fall 2020 semester approaches.

Quinnipiac is introducing a learning model called “Q-Flex,” which is a unique approach to teaching that combines the best practices from both in-person and remote instruction.

Michael Clement

Most faculty members will be teaching in the classroom, but some will be teaching remotely full-time due to health concerns. In some cases, students on campus will be allowed to gather in the classroom for discussions, help-sessions or project-based work while the professor teaches remotely from a screen. 

An email from Debra Liebowitz, Quinnipiac’s new provost, went out to all students on July 26, and further explained how the nature of the learning environment will be this upcoming semester.

“For as many classes as possible, subject to public health and safety guidelines, a professor will be physically present in the classroom with students in the class. Because physical distancing rules require us to put 6 feet between all the people in the room, however, students will take turns attending in the classroom in-person,” Libeowitz said.  “When not in person, students will join the class remotely, as it is happening.”

Students who are attending class online will be able to see and hear what is happening in the classroom, as well as be seen and heard by their teacher and fellow students. This model ensures that students can ask questions and take part in class discussions. Professors who are teaching hybrid courses will reach out to students regarding the course rotation schedule.

Attendance policy will vary based upon the class, but most professors will take attendance with students physically in class or logged on to the Zoom call. Professors who teach asynchronous courses may take attendance based upon completed assignments, quizzes or discussion board comments.

“Q-Flex” is also designed to help give professors a strong platform with more tools to help engage with students in a virtual classroom setting. One major goal for this learning model is to keep the connections between professors and students strong, despite this unique learning situation.

“I am slightly nervous to start my college career online because I am the kind of person who needs social interaction,” said Meaghan Johnson, an incoming freshman nursing major. “I want to form connections with my professors and peers and it worries me that I might not be able to receive that experience.” 

Quinnipiac will hold complete online instruction for the first two weeks of the semester and then hybrid courses will begin in-person instruction once students have been tested and quarantined for the appropriate amount of time. 

“I have some in-person classes and some that are strictly online,” said Joanna Haligowski, a sophomore health science major. “Online instruction is very difficult for me. I focus and learn better when I am face to face with my professor and hands-on in labs.”

Marissa McKinley, an assistant teaching professor of English, is one of the faculty members who chose the option to keep all of her courses completely online for this upcoming semester.

“Once the university figured out who was teaching on-ground and who was teaching from home, they made sure that students’ schedules identified whether the class was in-person or WEB based.” McKinley said. “I wanted to make sure my students knew right away that they were signing up for an online course so that they could have the option to take an on-ground course if they wanted to.” 

All exams will be administered online, including final exams after Thanksgiving break. The university is not planning on using a pass/fail grading policy this fall and is also preparing professors with specific training courses before the semester begins.

“The university is making it mandatory for all staff, faculty and students to complete an online COVID-19 training course,” said Lisa Zarcone, a math professor. “Professors are also expected to complete at least one technology bootcamp online training course.”

The technology course is designed to teach all of the technological materials that are available and different strategies that can be used to navigate them. The program is a two-week long course that incorporates several modules that professors can tackle on their own.

“Quinnipiac is also offering a mentorship program, in which professors who are comfortable with online learning can actually mentor those professors who aren’t,” Zarcone said. “It really is to help develop understanding and it’s nice because it brings all the professors together.” 

With a better understanding of the technology, Quinnipiac is expecting this semester to run smoothly.

“I wasn’t a fan of how we had to end the spring semester online but of course the system had a bunch of kinks in it since it was so last minute,” said Haley Gyorda, a sophomore advertising and integrated communications major. “I’m confident that QU has developed a better way for us to engage with our new professors and new classmates going forward these next few months.” 

The Learning Commons has put together a series of videos to help students prepare to navigate the “Q-Flex” model in the most successful way. New resources are planned to be added weekly. All resources usually provided through the Learning Commons and the Office of Student Accessibility will be available online, as well as through in-person individualized meetings.  

Students are encouraged to contact [email protected] for any questions or concerns regarding the Learning Commons resources.