The Power of “I”

This week a student I hadn’t seen in awhile showed up to ask a favor. No, not to pass her…she wanted an “ Incomplete”. She knew she couldn’t make up the many assignments she had missed in class, she wanted the “I” on her transcript so her GPA and financial aid monies would not be ruined for the upcoming semester. Her plan is to take the same class next semester, earn a passing grade and that passing grade would supersede the “I”!

I had never used the “I” in such a way. I didn’t even know if this was allowable. I went to the registrar’s office, posed my question and was told that yes, I could submit an Incomplete for this purpose.

I did wonder if this was an ethical action for me to take because I didn’t see this situation on our ethics test this year. However, this young person had some believable contretemps which would have caused most anyone to stumble at the end of the semester. Also, she is taking the class again, paying for it in some way and if she does not do what she promises, the grade because an F anyway.

I can’t imagine I would do this often, but I like that this student’s education is not seriously hindered by something she had little control over.  Do you have comments, suggestions, or concerns on the power of “I”.

10 thoughts on “The Power of “I”

  1. I only use the “I” for students at or near passing. I feel that it’s a very slippery slope if we use the “I” for the purpose you mention. I’d be curious if this was permissible at our 4-year neighbors. I’ve students ask for the “I” while failing and I’ve denied them telling them that it is reserved for students who were going to successfully complete the course but had a major event (e.g. pregnancy, military leave, severed limb (2 of the 3 of these have happened)) hinder their ability to complete the course. What happens if the student fails next semester by her own accord or if similar contretemps occur? I’m playing devil’s advocate here a bit but I am also a concerned citizen. I don’t want failing students asking for “I’s.” I was under the impression the purpose of the “I” was like I mentioned above. I’m sorry I missed you all at Emerald tonight. Baby+pediatrician=no kicking back with colleagues and discussing the power of “I” over a nice cold Guinness.

  2. I’m not a professor, but if I could be so bold as to weigh in–

    I was a full-time undergrad for twelve years (I have two very different bachelor’s degrees plus enough other courses for a third, maybe even a fourth), and in general, I took the grade I got. I’ve known students who fretted over their GPA, and either withdrew from a course they were struggling in or took an incomplete and tried to finish it that way. Two of them in particular were very bright and talented, but they kept dropping classes. Neither of those two ever graduated. They could have pursued PhDs, but instead they don’t have so much as a BA. There’s little point in protecting one’s GPA if it’s going to cost the degree. An education is very useful, a degree is moderately useful, and a GPA is of no use at all.

    Speaking as a hard-working student, I don’t care one way or another if you give my classmates incompletes. It costs them much more than it costs me, so if one of them really feel he needs it, I don’t care. Also, there is the occasional legitimate reason. What burns me up is cheating. If you’re going to cheat, then why even be there? The penalties for cheating at most schools are, in my view, too light. I’d much rather see a student do it the way I did it: take the class, fail the class, come back next semester and pass the class. We all get in over our heads sometimes, and how we handle that situation says a lot about the kind of person we are and the extent to which we can be counted on when the chips are down. In school, there’s no reason to give up on a course, even when failure is certain. In life, we need people who don’t give up.

  3. The “I” policy was always listed on the instructions for submitting final grades, when we submitted them in hard copy. The policy states that only students with a passing grade, who for a valid reason are unable to complete the course, should be granted an Incomplete. The student cannot enroll in the course again with an I grade. One semester, I had a student who was passing the class, and was hospitalized for the last few weeks of the semester. I gave that student an incomplete, and she came to me the next semester requesting I change it to an F. She wanted to just take the class over and could not register for it again with the incomplete grade.

    Something strange is happening in our advising and registration offices. I had a student show up today, telling me that she was in my class four years ago. This student said that someone in either advising or registration (it wasn’t clear which) said that there was no time limit on grade changes, and sent the student to me to request that I change the grade from an F – the student stopped attending class the week after midterms, to a B, without the student having to make up any work. If that actually is true, and there is no time limit on grade changes – I thought the limit was one year – then that’s a very scary policy indeed.

    • I have always been told by seniors members of my department that there is no time limit on changing grades, and students’s grade change requests have no limit on time. The policy also states, if memory serves, that the grade of I is automatically changed to an F in the middle of the following semester: however, I have personally had a few cases where the grade of I stood long past that point.

  4. Let us first consult CCC Academic Policy

    SOURCE OFFICE: Chancellor ISSUED BY: Chancellor DATE: 8/28/81
    REVIEWED: 1991, 2002, 2009
    SUBJECT: Awarding an Incomplete Grade of “I”

    “I” designations (Incomplete) are non-grades received by students who have actively pursued the course and are doing passing work at the end of the course, but who have not completed the course’s final examination and/or other specific course assignments.
    If an “I” grade is listed, instructors are to complete the appropriate forms or attach a note on the reverse side of the signed grade roster describing all requirements which must be met by the student(s) for the removal of the “I” grade.
    To remove an “I” grade, a student must make arrangements with the instructor to complete the course work and/or take the final examination by the mid-point of the following semester (not including the summer term). If the course work is not completed and turned in to the instructor by this deadline, the “I” grade will convert to an “F” grade.
    If the instructor is not available, the student should contact the department Chair. A student who has an “I” grade may not re-register in that course. However, if the “I” grade is changed to an “F” grade, the student may then re-register for the course.
    The Department Chair or Registrar shall further verify that a copy of all assignments and/or tests required for the removal of each “I” grade have been placed in the department files and shall so certify to the Academic Vice President.

    Now then, let the discussion continue.

  5. Who knew there were so many rule-followers at HW? Baa baa baa.

    Not me, I say go for it! Give the I. Let us know what happens when the student attempts to register for the same class. Does it work? Will the student succeed? I want to know!

    • Hi Non-mutton Head,
      For the sake of discussion, your reply appears to indicate that there is something wrong with following rules. Am I right or wrong.
      If I am right, can you elaborate.
      If I am wrong, accept my apologies.


  6. On the other hand, a “D”, while not a passing grade (in the English department), does NOT impact a student’s financial aid.
    If the student wants to repeat the course for a better grade, then s/he is free to do so.

    • I did not know this information about “D”- it is so good to know!!!

      About grade change – four years ago or so we were told that students have 30 days after the end of the semester to appeal their grade- not sure which document would confirm it though…
      Is there any other route to change student grade?

  7. Hello all. You might want to check with the College Advisors that release the financial aid holds about this one. I always thought that the I grade for financial aid’s sake is the same as an F because SAP means Satisfactory Academic Progress and a student with an I grade did not pass the class with a C or higher and make Satisfactory Academic Progress. Someone should check on this one. Dean Blair would know. Some advisors that release hold are Debbie Miles, Charles McSweeney, Devon Glover, Terry Pendleton, and Ana Villafane to name a few. At some point, all advisors will be doing it. I will try to ask one of them on Monday, but I am usually glued to my office with muchos estudiantes. 🙂

    Let’s investigate shall we? Have a great weekend. I hope that Union Banquet was fun. I was at home sick. Hugs, Ellen Goldberg

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