Method of Learning and Grading Philosophy

This distance learning  PhD program is delivered online through the study of text books, video presentations and other media, and also by using the resources available on the internet.  Individual faculty members will determine for each course, to what extent dvd, audio and video podcasts, text material, and internet resources will be used. The program is asynchronous, meaning that it is not necessary for the student to be online at the same time as the instructor. Course materials are accessible at all times.

Consequently, there are no “classes”. Our Instructors serve as guides to the material to be studied. Readings in texts are assigned, and internet resources such as video lectures and research materials are liberally relied on. In addition to assigned readings, additional assigned homework is posted on the student portal from time to time. Most homework involves essay type work or reports on a topic of special importance. Ample time is allowed for the completion of assigned work and readings to allow the student maximum flexibility to budget time appropriately.

Generally, each course contains a Mid-course Exam, as well as a Final Exam. Exams do have time limits, usually 1 week, and are necessarily open-book style exams requiring the student to prepare essay style answers and/or reports. Many times, questions posed will be outside the required readings, requiring students to practice their research skills in answering a topical question. The purpose of exams is for the student to demonstrate proficiency with respect to the subject matter involved.

Some courses contain no exams at all, but rather base assessments of learning on assigned research reports and/or essays.

Communications between student and instructor must necessarily be via email or other messaging systems due to time zone differences between students and faculty.

The purpose of issuing course grades is to generate a record of the student’s completion of a course for inclusion in the transcript. The Faculty is motivated to assist each student in successfully completing the program, rather than eliminating some students. Grades are based on individual performance and not determined by a bell shaped curve as is often the case elsewhere. Consequently, an entire class may do well. We understand that each student is typically a working adult with many time constraints. All that is required for good grades is that the student demonstrate an honest effort to learn the material. Of course, an “honest effort” goes hand in hand with the student’s acquisition of knowledge.

A grade of B- or better is required for each and every course in our program. Some courses may be offered as Pass/Fail, but a B-  is required in order to Pass. Students who receive a C in a course have essentially failed, but will be given the opportunity via extra credit work to raise their grade to at least B-. Students that receive a D or F for a course have failed that course and cannot proceed further in the program.

Here is an example of the kind of work you will be doing, being an essay by one of our graduate students,  F. Karl Weddige, concerning the proposition of Aubrey de Grey that Aging is a disease that can be treated (click on cover to view pdf file):