Frequently Asked Questions

1. What should you do about students on your class roster who do not appear in class?

2. Under what circumstances should you consider granting a student an incomplete?


Answers

1. What should you do about students on your class roster who do not appear in class?

If the absence persists after the end of the add period (end of the second full week of classes), please send a CPN to the student, which will also be sent to the College Office. Staff in the College will follow up with the student.

If the name continues to appear on your roster at the end of the semester when you submit grades for the class, you may either mark an “F” or a “no show.” Following are some considerations to help you decide which of these options is appropriate.

When is it Appropriate to Mark “No Show”?

The grade sheet allows you to mark “no show” in lieu of assigning a grade. You should resort to this option only in the event that you are certain that the student has been absent and has failed to participate in any activities of the class since the fifth week of the semester.

The effect of submitting a “No Show” is that a “GR” will appear on the student's transcript, which means that the class was graded but that there was no grade for this student. A grade of “No Show” is treated as a “poor grade” during the evaluation of students' academic standing at the end of each semester and may also trigger academic probation, a mandatory leave of absence, or even being dropped from the rolls of the University.

“No Show” in Relation to Policies on Dropping and Withdrawing from Classes

To understand why marking “No Show” is often inappropriate, it is important to understand University policies regarding dropping and withdrawing from a class. (a) Drop Period extends to the end of the fifth full week of the semester. Students are not permitted to drop a class after this deadline unless they provide evidence that they intended to drop the class during the Drop Period and have not been attending since then. When a student drops a class, the record of it is deleted from the transcript. (b) The deadline for Withdrawal occurs at the end of the tenth full week of the semester. Withdrawal results in a mark on the transcript of W after the class.

If a student drops a class before the end of the drop period, his or her name should not appear on the grade sheet. Problems arise when a student’s name does appear and the record of his or her performance is either blank or incomplete. In such cases you should mark “No Show” on the grade sheet only if the student has not participated since the end of the Drop Period. If a student abandons a course at some time after the end of the Drop Period or if you are unable to determine when the student stopped participating (as can happen in a large class), you should assign a letter grade based on the work you have from the student, assuming a zero for any missing work and factoring in the lack of participation as you would for any other students in the class.

Even if you learn of extenuating circumstances causing a student’s departure from the course, you should assign a letter grade based on the work you have from the student, again, assuming a zero for any missing work. This places the onus on the student to inform College officials of those circumstances and to document them appropriately. If we in the College Office can determine that the student ceased involvement in the class prior to the deadline for Withdrawal (the tenth week of the semester), then the SAS Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Academic Standing may, with your consent, grant the student a retroactive withdrawal from the class, resulting in a W on the transcript.

Do Not Assign an Incomplete

Incompletes should not be submitted for the student who simply stops coming to class. This mark should be reserved for the student with an excusable failure to complete the work of your class by the end of the semester. For more information on incompletes, see here.

Do Not Leave the Student’s Record Blank

What if you submit nothing for the student? In general, our advice is not to do this, because it has the same effect as submitting a “No Show.” When you submit grades for your class, any student for whom you have neglected to submit a grade receives a GR, exactly as if you had submitted “No Show.”

Either way, we in the College will hold the student responsible for resolving any GRs. Also, if the student neglects to resolve a GR, the Registrar eventually converts it to an F.

2. Under what circumstances should you consider granting a student an incomplete?

An Incomplete is a privilege you grant to a student for an excusable failure to complete the work of the class by the end of the semester. Although a student may sometimes assume an entitlement to an incomplete, there is no entitlement. You may grant an Incomplete based on your judgment about how best to deal with an extenuating circumstance. You should do so, however, with some sense of equity with respect to other students who completed the course on time, perhaps under trying circumstances of which you are not aware.

An Incomplete should be granted only with an explicit understanding with the student concerning when the outstanding work for the class will be completed. When responding to a student’s request for an Incomplete, you are advised to state your conditions in writing. Undergraduates are better off with firm boundaries in this and in other grading matters, and so are you.

To make sure the student understands the implications of an Incomplete and the obligations he or she incurs by accepting this privilege, refer him or her to the College's policy regarding Incompletes: http://www.college.upenn.edu/grades/incompletes.php. The College's policy provides for two kinds of Incomplete: a “Short Incomplete (designated “I”), which must be made up by the end of the fourth week of the next semester in which the student is enrolled; or a “Long Incomplete” (designated “II”), which must be made up by the end of the next semester in which the student is enrolled. In either case, you may require that work be completed by some date prior to the stipulated deadline. Once the date you have set passes, the privilege you have granted expires, and you should submit the grade the student deserves after assigning a zero for all work not submitted for the course. The Registrar will convert to an F any Incompletes remaining after the deadline stipulated in the College’s policy (fourth week or the end of the next semester).

Incidentally, once the F or any higher grade you have submitted has remained on the transcript for a full semester, it is considered permanent and further changes will not ordinarily be permitted. Any exception to this rule must be approved by the Dean of the College.

Unintended Consequences of an Incomplete

Please be aware that an incomplete on a student's transcript can have consequences for his or her academic standing in the College. Too many incompletes, whether alone or in combination with other indications of academic difficulty, can result in the student's being placed on academic probation. Depending on the severity of the student's academic difficulties, he or she could be placed on a mandatory leave of absence or could even be dropped from the rolls of the University.

These decisions are made by the SAS Faculty Committee on Undergraduate Academic Standing. The Committee respects your decision to grant a student an incomplete. However, if a student accumulates too may incompletes, the Committee will mandate a leave to give the student time to resolve them before being permitted to take on the additional academic commitments of a new semester.

 

 

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