This week I did some professor alchemy and turned numbers into letters; i.e., number grades into letter grades. A previous school I was at let us keep everything as numbers that went directly into a GPA. Of course, some alchemy was also involved in that system as well; i.e., the mythical curving function that some professors apply to their grades.
This is the first semester in a long time in which none of my students got a grade of F, and I am very pleased about that. Some students withdrew from my classes at various times in the semester, and one of these students was possibly heading towards an F, so the lack of F's is perhaps an artifact of this withdrawal.
I also gave one grade of Incomplete rather than giving an F. The decision about whether to give an Incomplete or an F can be difficult. It is easy if a student who was otherwise doing well in the class has an emergency at some point in the class and misses an exam or key assignment(s). Those students get an I, make up the work, and then get a grade.
The decision is more difficult if the student has missed a series of assignments or more than one exam, and doesn't contact you to discuss the situation. I just had an F vs. I debate with myself about one student, and decided to go with the I.
I sent the Incomplete student an urgent email, as I have a number of other times in recent weeks as the possibility of an F started looming. When I talked to this student in class before the term ended, she said she does not read her email. I said that this was the primary means by which I would communicate with her and other students in the class outside of class, but she has yet to respond to any email I have sent.
I can't even remember what we used to do before we could email students. They can always call or come see us in our offices, but what if we need to talk to them? I am quite sure I never called a student unless they called me and left a message with their phone number and a request for me to call them back. I can see this I student's campus and home phone numbers in the directory, but somehow I can't imagine calling her at home to discuss her grade. I talked to a dean-like person about the situation, and he said that I could pursue certain channels to find out who her official advisor is, and the advisor could then activate certain special advisorial mechanisms to reel in a student to discuss academic problems.
Ultimately, completing the required course assignments is her responsibility. The I converts automatically to an F if the work is not made up in a certain amount of time. I am hoping that the work will be made up and the student will end up with a good grade. I may pursue the advisor mechanism of tracking her down, but if she wants to get help or discuss the I with me, she knows where to find me, and I hope she does just that.
6 months ago