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Assessments and Academic Integrity

No. Penn State has decided that no students will have their academic standing changed to warning, suspension, or dismissal as a result of their academic performance for the spring 2020 semester.

Review the ETM questions and answers in the Alternative Grading section for more information on how this will impact your students.

To address impacts caused by the novel coronavirus public health crisis, Penn State is implementing optional alternative grading scales for the spring 2020 semester.

There are two sources of information for adapting assessments from in-person courses to a remote teaching environment:

There is no University-wide proctoring service. You might consider implementing many low-stakes assignments as opposed to a few high-stakes assessments, having students generate material such as papers, projects or videos, hand-written assignments, or e-portfolios. You might also use Turnitin, a web-based writing assessment toolkit, which allows instructors to provide feedback to students through markup tools, rubrics, proofing tools, and originality reports to detect plagiarism.

Class Participation and Interacting with Students

For support addressing accessibility concerns that students with disabilities may encounter in the remote learning environment, faculty can schedule one-on-one consultations by filling out the Accessibility Consultation Form. The Accessibility Team can offer assistance with accessible digital course materials, lecture technology, Canvas, captioning, or any other accessibility questions. 

Accessibility Training for Instructors webinar sessions are also available via Zoom for faculty to learn how to develop and transition summer courses to a remote environment. Log in with your Penn State Access Account on the Learning Resource Network website to register for these sessions.

You may make video clips of short portions of DVDs and Blu-Rays to provide for in-class or out-of-class viewing. Find more technical help on creating these clips in Kaltura. You are encouraged to rely on licensed video already provided by the Libraries for out-of-class viewing. Libraries also already have subscriptions to a significant set of streaming audio options for Penn State users. Please contact your liaison librarian or the Libraries’ Music & Media Center for help determining if the audio or video content you need for teaching is available through the Libraries. If it is not, the Libraries may be able to purchase streaming access for additional media.

For assistance with copyright-related issues, please fill out the Copyright, Publishing, and Open Access form or book an appointment with a librarian from the Office of Scholarly Communications and Copyright.

Check the University Libraries’ Ebooks and Other Course Materials to determine if the materials are available to students. If not, you can provide in Canvas most materials needed for students to successfully complete the course. See more information related to copyright when rapidly shifting your course from in-person to remote teaching.

You can also send your own scans of materials to be posted in e-reserves. To submit materials, please complete the request form and email accompanying scans to

For assistance with copyright-related issues, please fill out the Copyright, Publishing, and Open Access form or book an appointment with a librarian from the Office of Scholarly Communications and Copyright.

Tools like Canvas, Zoom, Office 365 (including Teams), and Kaltura allow you to interact with students, present course content, and more.

Students who are disruptive in a remote class should be handled in the same way that they are handled in a face-to-face class. You should set clear standards of behavior and communicate your expectations. If disruptive behavior occurs, you should confront the behavior. If the student continues to be disruptive, you should ask the student to leave the class, notify your unit head, and file a report online with the Office of Student Conduct. Staff in the Office of Student Conduct also are available to discuss your concern at

Some instructors have experienced online classroom disruptions by participants who are not enrolled in the course, or Penn State. More recommendations on preventing and managing disruptions are available in the Canvas Blog article.

Preparing and Teaching Remote Courses

Information and best practices for moving courses to a remote delivery format and learning how to teach them effectively have been assembled by Penn State World Campus Faculty Development.

Consistent with Governor Wolf’s statewide mitigation efforts, the University must continue to provide services essential to our community. One main focus right now is providing the quality of education that Penn State can continue to deliver. Faculty and staff are working remotely to achieve that goal. 

Supporting Students

The Sponsored Relations Office in the Office of Global Programs has been working with all of Penn State’s partner sponsoring organizations. They have been instrumental in informing sponsors about the University’s response to the global crisis. They are also keeping an inventory of specific program requirements set by sponsors. Students should be encouraged to contact the office at

Support resources differ based on your campus:

  • University Park students who are experiencing unforeseen circumstances because of COVID-19 can be referred to the Student Care and Advocacy office.
  • World Campus students can view Care and Concern information to access resources.
  • Students at Commonwealth campuses should check their campus Student Affairs website for Care and Advocacy contact information.

For many campuses, you will find a report form that the student can complete, or that can be completed by you on behalf of the student. Additionally, students facing financial insecurity may complete the Student Emergency Fund application form.

During this time, you may be working with students that are experiencing distress for a variety of reasons. Although you are not meeting with students in person, you may notice changes in behaviors (such as failing to complete class assignments) or receive direct communications from students that indicate their distress. Use the Red Folder for your campus to identify and respond to the behaviors appropriately. This tool can help you determine an appropriate level of concern, ways to respond, and referral resources at your campus. If you are interested in learning more about ways to recognize and respond to students who may be experiencing distress, a brief on-demand faculty development course is available called OL 1200: Responding to World Campus Students in Distress. While it was developed to respond to World Campus students, the principles may be generalized to apply to all students.

Many aspects of students’ lives are in flux right now. Encourage them to practice self-care and positive coping strategies. They can utilize resources provided by Penn State Health Promotion and Wellness to learn strategies and discover engagement events they can participate in to connect with other students.

The Penn State Libraries is committed to supporting teaching, learning, and research during this time of remote and online instruction. Explore the Remote Resources for Penn State Library Users to see what is available to you and your students.

Starfish is a critical tool to use during this situation. Instructors can raise flags about any student in their course, and those flags can be viewed by assigned academic advisers, who use those flags to triage outreach.

Starfish is a critical tool to use during this time. If you know students who are not connecting to your online course, please use Starfish flags to alert academic advisers so they can reach out and support these students.

Undergraduate students who are doing research for credit may not continue to work in labs and other areas on campus to complete their work. Faculty are asked to identify alternative ways of achieving the learning outcomes for the experience. If a student is completing a research thesis, faculty will work to navigate best practices for completing the thesis. Undergraduate students who are employees performing essential work should contact their direct supervisors for guidance.

Faculty are strongly discouraged from expecting or allowing undergraduates to conduct research on campus. If there is an ongoing research project that requires undergraduate involvement on campus, approval from the relevant academic dean and the senior vice president for research must be obtained for the student to continue research and ensure safe social distancing in the lab.

Some faculty have been seeking additional guidance on how to work with students who test positive for coronavirus or who find themselves in other special circumstances created by this crisis, which could include:

  • caring for family members and friends who contract the virus;
  • caring for children who are not attending school/daycare;
  • food and housing insecurity caused by loss of employment; etc.

Students who contract this virus will have varying symptoms, from mild cold symptoms to flu-like symptoms to hospitalization (the least likely). Mild to moderate illness can last up to 14 days. Students are being encouraged to communicate with their faculty to describe their level of illness and the work that they can accomplish while they are ill. Other related challenges that might impact attendance should be communicated to faculty in a similar fashion.

Senate Policy 42-27 on Class Attendance emphasizes the importance of regular attendance but also grants faculty a great deal of latitude in providing reasonable opportunities for students to make up work for legitimate and unavoidable reasons including illness, family emergency, etc. Although faculty can use their judgment in assessing a student’s illness claim, students are not required to secure the signature of medical personnel and faculty do not need to secure documentation to support their professional judgement.

When undergraduate students are ill:
In situations where undergraduate students become ill near the end of the semester, faculty have the option of assigning deferred grades under Senate Policy 48-40. This policy requires students to complete the work within the prescribed timeline or else the grade is converted to an F. Students and faculty will be notified of the approaching deadline, and faculty have the option of requesting an extension; they can also update the F grade later using the grade-change process. The use of deferred grades is appropriate on a case-by-case basis but not for an entire class.

When graduate students are ill:
When a graduate student becomes ill near the end of the semester or faces other significant life events, policy GSAD-906 Graduate Student Leave of Absence provides three opportunities to meet the needs of the student:

  • Short-Term Absence (< 3 weeks)
    • appropriate when the graduate student is expected to be able to complete the work within the semester
  • Extended Absence (within a semester)
    • appropriate when the graduate student is expected to be able to complete the work within the semester, or when a Deferred Grade will allow the student to finish the work when they have recovered from the illness; Graduate Council’s policy GCAC-401 Grading System has additional information on Deferred Grades for graduate students
  • Leave of Absence
    • appropriate when the graduate student is not expected to complete the work in a timely fashion even with the Deferred Grade extension
    • if necessary, an Extended Leave can be converted to a Leave of Absence as described in the policy


Find the full list of setting changes, an instructional video, and other resources on the Zoom Security page on the Penn State Office of Information Security website. You can learn how to adjust your Zoom settings and find future updates on this page as they become available.

To obtain a license for the following applications please visit the Software Request website.

  • Adobe CC
  • Microsoft Azure Dev Tools for Education
  • TeamViewer

For more information, please visit  Penn State Software.

Technology tools like iPads and Apple Pencils are available for loan to Penn State STEM faculty who need a way to virtually work through equations. Fill out the online request form with your current address and the equipment can be shipped directly to you. You must be logged in to ServiceNow to directly access the request form. 

A return shipping label will be included so that you can return the equipment at the end of the term you are currently teaching. The iPads and Apple Pencils are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Penn State IT and Teaching and Learning with Technology have developed a Knowledge Base article that provides step-by-step instructions for securing Zoom sessions from would-be hijackers. Additionally, if one of your courses is hijacked, report the incident to University Police.

For undergraduate courses, faculty members who previously did not take attendance in their in-person classrooms should continue to not take attendance and respect that their students will attend remotely. Faculty who took attendance previously should explore manual and automatic options for taking attendance through Zoom. For help with these options, please visit our technology training page.

Guidance has been developed to help you set expectations to students about webcam usage. There are three main factors that this guidance considers and balances: academic integrity/integrity of assessment, student privacy, and student access to technology/resources. Read this guidance to determine how your class should proceed. 

You can request the support of a Tech TA during your Zoom teaching session. Tech TAs are Penn State students who are available to help facilitate teaching sessions by managing your Zoom technology needs. More details about the Tech TA program are available on Penn State News. Faculty can request the help of a Tech TA by completing this Tech TA faculty request form

Yes, you may do this, but you need to securely store the recordings and destroy them at the end of the semester. If you intend to use the recordings after the end of the semester, any type of identifying information must be removed. In addition, you must inform students that they are being recorded by sharing the following language with them: “Video and audio recordings of class lectures will be part of the classroom activity. The video and audio recording is used for educational use/purposes and may only be made available to students presently enrolled in the class. For purposes where the recordings will be used in future class session/lectures, any type of identifying information will be adequately removed.” It is essential to stop the Zoom recording at the end of your Zoom session.

If you choose to record a Zoom session, student participation during the session should not be required. Students should be provided the choice to opt-out from identification in the recording by muting their audio, disabling video, and not typing into the chat window. In these cases, students should still be considered in attendance and should not be penalized in any way.

All Zoom cloud recordings are automatically uploaded to Kaltura. Faculty can edit, embed, and share Zoom cloud recordings within Kaltura. Detailed instructions for accessing Zoom recordings in Kaltura are available.

Zoom has detailed instructions on how to mute and unmute all participants currently in a meeting, as well as new participants joining a meeting. You can also allow participants to unmute themselves. If students would like to be unmuted to speak in your class, they can request that via a message in the chat or via the “raise hand” feature.

In Zoom, the “Managing participants” feature allows you to disable students’ ability to change their names. This should help you identify individual students as needed.

Penn State IT has provided tips on conserving bandwidth. One quick tip is to ask others who share your internet service to limit their bandwidth consumption, if possible, during your class session.

As non-essential Penn State buildings temporarily close down in response to Governor Wolf’s recommendations, you may not be able to access your usual classrooms or lecture halls. Please contact your campus IT department to confirm availability. We encourage you to practice the CDC’s recommendations on preventing illness and using social distancing.

Items available are limited and may vary from unit to unit. Please contact your local IT office to request these items. Learn more about the ports and peripherals on your computer.

It is strongly recommended that faculty, staff, and students download Zoom to their laptop and/or cell phone for easy conferencing. You can then dial in to a Zoom meeting with one of the provided numbers. Faculty and staff can also request Cisco Jabber for a laptop and/or cell. Visit the Cisco Jabber Learning Path for more information. Both of these methods incur no cost or charges from providers, and for both, it is recommended that your device has a microphone and a camera.

If you have further questions or need assistance, get support by contacting the IT Service Desk.

You can, however, it is highly discouraged. Doing so may result in long-distance costs due to Zoom’s utilization of toll calls.

If you do not have access to a computer and/or the internet from your location, please log in to the IT service portal and fill out the Penn State Mobile Technology Request Form to formalize your computer/access request. University IT is continually working on the availability and distribution of equipment. Information about your request will be relayed via the phone number you provide in the request form. Once you receive your equipment, contact the IT Service Desk for 24/7 support.

If you lack internet connection, you can also use your phone as a hotspot. Penn State IT has provided instructions for how to set up hotspots on SamsungPixel, and iPhones.

In order to use a personal hotspot on your device, you may also secure additional data from your wireless carrier. The following providers have information readily available on how to upgrade data: AT&TCharterComcastSprintT-Mobile, and Verizon. Find more providers and information on the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected page.

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