Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Soliciting Feedback from Peers & Colleagues

Today I received an email (addressed to all of the student’s instructors, not just me) from a student that began thusly: “The information I will divulge in this email is confidential and though you are not legally bound to keep this between you and I, I do expect your discretion in keeping the following information private.” (The hyper-correction in that sentence is glaring, I know, but I can’t take the blame for it.)

Naturally, I will respect the student’s wishes by not divulging the particulars of what s/he went on to say (at some length, mind you), but let it suffice to say that it was way more information than I would have liked to know about a student. In a nutshell, it was basically a medical and psychological self-profile meant to illuminate the nature of the student’s rather erratic attendance and quality of work. (It’s worth noting, I think, that this is one of the students I had recommended to the department at mid-term.) And for what it’s worth, it was a thorough, warts-and-all kind of confession, complete with bulleted points, reasonably solid exposition, and everything. (Aside: I’m not making light of this student’s plight in the least, but I couldn’t help but think that this email would’ve almost made for a better memoir as is than the one the student turned in.) Ultimately, however, the point of the e-missive was to ask the following question:

***What I need to know is if I can recover from my mistakes this semester? Also, what will happen if I miss more classes before the 8th, and if I can get my homework to do outside of class?***”

I should also add that I can vouch for some of the life details/information included in the email, because it so happens that I knew the student’s family when I was in high school—which is only to say that I don’t think this person is being melodramatic and/or making stuff up. Given this information, coupled with the fact that s/he has recently missed quite a few class periods, hasn’t turned in the final draft of the last paper (which was only a week ago at this point) or the rough draft of the current paper, and there’s only four class periods left (including the final exam one), what would you tell this student? And if you were to say that s/he’s pretty much SOL, would you assign an I or an F? Any feedback on this matter will be much appreciated.


Amy said...

If you think the excuses are reasonable, you could offer the chance to make up the work, but obviously that would have to be done quickly. I wouldn't offer an I. That's too much follow-up work for a GA, especially if you won't be around next year.

You may have to give the student an F even if they have good excuses because they didn't complete the course. Let them know it's nothing personal, but they can't receive credit for something they didn't finish.

Is it too late for them to drop and you to give them an N grade? That would require the person to retake the course without messing up their GPA.

Hannah said...

I agree with Amy that dropping would be ideal--that way, you could simply give the student an N grade and s/he could retake it. This may be the best idea because "erratic attendance" probably means that the student didn't get much out of class.
The way I think of it, I guess, is that of course your student is not a bad person for having a difficult semester. At the same time, it just might not be his/her semester, and sometimes that's the best thing to tell a student in circumstances like that.

LBusby said...

Tough one...I'm with amy in suggesting they drop with an "N" for now, but it may be too late. But, depending on what your syllabus says about not doing all of the required work for the course, maybe you will have an easier time justifying whatever grade you decide to assign to this student.

Amy said...

It's past the date to drop with an automatic N, but after that date it's up to the instructor to assign either an F or an N.