Online Learning Management System
Meridian University uses Moodle as its online Learning Management System. Moodle is used both for online coursework as well as to augment traditional in-person classes; as such, students in both the Monthly and the Blended learning formats have involvement with the Moodle system. Note that Moodle's website mentions that Moodle, "...is designed from a 'social constructionist pedagogy' meaning that, in part, people actively construct new knowledge as they interact with their environments. Moodle's discussion forums and group learning activities help promote rich collaborative learning communities." Within Moodle, students interact with faculty and cohort members through a variety of means and technologies such as discussion forums, instant messaging, audio, video, and web conferencing.
Meridian embraces the principles of academic freedom as outlined by the American Association of University Professors. Faculty, staff, and students are expected to support the expression of differences. This includes having the right to articulate and advocate positions which may be controversial, without concern for negative repercussions regarding student evaluation, discrimination, or disciplinary action. Academic freedom includes freedom of speech, writing, opinions, beliefs, research endeavors, and learning activities. Academic freedom is essential to the cultivation of self-awareness, collaboration, responsibility, creativity, and the development of vital democracy. Principles of academic freedom extend from the classroom, to research, and to the communication of learnings from one's research in the form of presentation and publications.
Any concerns regarding academic freedom are resolved through the Grievance Procedure within the Conflict Resolution Process.
Students are expected to perform with academic and personal integrity in all aspects of the graduate program. Academic dishonesty includes practices such as: plagiarism; the unauthorized use of study aids during examinations; stealing, borrowing, or purchasing another person's work; using the same paper twice for two different courses, etc. Meridian has adopted the definition of plagiarism offered in Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, 7th ed.: "By definition, a research paper involves the assimilation of prior scholarship and entails the responsibility to give proper acknowledgment whenever one is indebted to another for either words or ideas. . . [students must acknowledge] the words and ideas of others in a paper by quoting works accurately and attributing quotations and ideas to their authors in notes. Failure to give credit is plagiarism."
All student papers are subject to plagiarism software scans. When students are found to have behaved in an academically dishonest manner or to have plagiarized, the issue will be brought to the attention of the Director of Assessment and Student Development (DASD). The Student Development Committee is authorized to take appropriate disciplinary action, ranging from requiring the student to repeat the assignment or course; requiring the student to do additional work; placing the student on Academic Probation; requiring the student to take tutorial(s); and/or to initiate administrative withdrawal from Meridian. (See Administrative Withdrawal section).
At times, students may find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having knowledge of another student's academic dishonesty. In such cases, it is the student's ethical responsibility to take steps towards the resolution of the issue. Ethical steps would involve supporting the student who acted dishonestly to disclose their actions, and if this is unsuccessful, to report the issue to the DASD, who will conduct an inquiry.
Federal policy requires that the amount of work for each unit of credit be institutionally established, represented in intended learning outcomes, and verified by evidence of student achievement. Since its inception, Meridian University has used the Carnegie unit for its standard of measurement for academic credit. This unit is the primary measure by which progress towards a degree is measured.
Meridian's course delivery is structured on the quarter system. Per the U.S. federal definition of the credit hour, each session of classroom instruction requires at least two hours of outside preparation by the student. As such, each one-quarter credit is understood as representing approximately three hours of actual work per week for the student over a period of 10 weeks, or 30 hours of work per one-quarter credit hour.
This basic measure may be adjusted proportionately to reflect specific modifications in an academic calendar.
Evaluation of Students
Meridian's approach to evaluation emphasizes self-awareness, empathy, and collaboration in the learning process. At Meridian, students do not receive traditional letter grades; instead, students are assigned one of the following at the end of each course: Pass (P), Low-Pass (LP), Incomplete (INC), and No-Credit (NC).
This grading policy results from the school's commitment to Transformative Learning, where standardized grades are viewed as oversimplifying the language used by faculty and students to talk about student learning and student achievement. At Meridian, it is understood that traditional grades or point systems provide a single hierarchal ranking-scale, representing learning in terms of a single set of letters or numbers that are static, discrete, and linear. However, learning is a dynamic, continuous, and non-linear process. In the school's assessment process, grades do not serve learning and are viewed as obscuring how learning is represented, i.e., traditional grading systems miss who students are and what they are capable of. As such, there is no need to grade students in ways that do not accurately convey their learning nor the range and diversity of their skills, strengths, and further development of their capacities.
At Meridian, student evaluation takes place in the context of in-class transformative learning activities, transformative practice assignments, writing assignments, the quality of student posts (for online coursework) and exams that are assessed collaboratively by the student and their colleagues; all of these constitute a rich and multidimensional picture of student learning.
The Student Development Committee assesses student progress on a quarterly and annual basis through academic reviews. At the summer Quarterly Academic Review, students who are in good academic standing are cleared to register for the following academic year.
Meridian maintains its commitment to creating a pluralist learning community through promoting and encouraging a diversity among its students, staff, and faculty. Meridian considers this commitment essential to being a reflexive organization. Meridian's ongoing intention is to develop and nurture a learning community in which students and faculty can learn together in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and where differences in age, economic status, race, ethnic background, religion, origin, gender, sexual orientation, physical challenge, political views, personal characteristics, and beliefs are welcomed.
At the core of Meridian's emphasis on Transformative Learning is the deep and abiding commitment to three principles: pluralism of individual viewpoint, the importance of expressing difference, and the necessity for individual and group differences to not be denied, disavowed, suppressed, or trivialized, but rather, to be deeply recognized and engaged. In accordance with these principles, Meridian fosters a learning environment that encourages expression of difference on the part of all constituents of Meridian's community: its staff, faculty, board, and students.
If a student or faculty believes they have been subjected to any form of unlawful discrimination, they may submit a written complaint to the Administrative Director (see grievance procedures).
Conflict is essential to learning, individuation, and the creative process. The process of working through conflict supports and deepens our relationships and our creativity. Meridian's Conflict Resolution Process seeks to satisfactorily resolve conflict through an informal approach based on psychologically aware conversation.
When conflict arises, a focused and face-to-face attempt should be made to resolve issues directly with the people involved. Occasions of conflict can be a time to draw on skills and capacities essential for psychological work. Significant healing and closure can come from sincere, psychologically aware conversation. Working through conflict while maintaining psychological awareness during moments of disagreement, struggle, and anger can be a profoundly transformative experience. Learning to have these conversations effectively is an important aspect of Meridian's graduate curriculum. Meridian faculty and staff are available to provide assistance if the student would like help to create a context in which a conversation can take place.
When the above informal approach is not effective, the student has the option of initiating a formal grievance procedure by submitting a statement of grievance addressed to Meridian's Administrative Director. This statement of grievance should include all the relevant specifics about the issue. The Administrative Director conducts an inquiry to assess the validity of the grievance and to determine the appropriate remedies. Further detail on the grievance procedure may be found in the Student Handbook.