too accommodating?

I want every student to be successful, not only in my classes but also academically and in life. This summer has had some interesting challenges.

Yes, it is possible to be too accommodating. This isn’t helping anyone, least of all the student who requests accommodations for some legitimate reasons, but then fails accept the accompanying responsibilities.

Is it just me? If I give a student an Incomplete, I expect that there will be some urgency and acknowledgement that this is a special situation and student will be responsive. I expect requests to the student for information to complete exception procedures to be completed promptly. Being told I will have to wait a week because the student is busy is bad enough. Then having to remind the student of the request and the urgency was beyond any reasonable accommodation. I never did receive the information requested, just an other round of escalating emails.

This has been a learning experience. CIS 2 in particular takes advantage of many of the learning literacies that are possible in an online asynchronous course. This allows for great adventures in exploration and discovery and broadens the relevance of the course to all participants. However, it requires students to assume more responsibility for their learning. This isn’t for everyone. Many students thrive with the flexibility and self-directed learning activities. Others do not.

In the past students who failed to contribute after several weeks could be dropped from the class. When it was clear to the student and the instructor that this “wasn’t working” the student was not penalized for the attempt. Now, there is increased emphasis on grades and units for financial aid, and the requirement that the student initiate the withdrawal. Students get to the end of the semester and suddenly realize they are failing but they have to have an A. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of these students.

As I understand it, the Incomplete status is intended for situations where a student can take a final exam late or submit a paper or project – a specific deliverable that can be completed by the individual student in a few days or weeks after the end of the semester.

Completing half of the discussions after the end of the course makes no sense at all. The whole point is to be part of a dynamic community of learners where everyone contributes and interacts around the topic and shared resources within a limited period of 7-10 days which provides time for individual research and analysis, and time to review and formulate thoughtful discussion participation.

While it is apparently possible to provide a Catalyst “course” for the student granted an extension, it is not a very satisfactory solution. This isn’t the same as turning in an essay a few days or weeks after the  end of the semester. The structure of the online courses has proven to be successful and well received by the majority of students, and I am very pleased about that. I plan to continue with this interesting and important learning environment that benefits many (but not all) students.

If that means that all work must be completed by the end of the semester, so be it. I am willing to work with some really exceptional situations, but there are limits.

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