Missing/ Dead Instructor

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by George Brown, Dec 22, 2005.

  1. George Brown

    George Brown New Member

    Saw this posting on one of my other regular lists. Wonder if its worth the development of a new policy?

    We have an interesting situation that has occurred. We have an instructor that disappeared after 75% of a course. We do not have a gradebook, nor have we been able to establish any contact with the instructor. We do not feel that we will ever be able to contact the instructor. We do, however, have a mid-term gradesheet that lists only the letter grade for each of the students. What would your institution do for a final grade for the students in this class?

    Would you give the students the same grade that they received for their mid-term? Would you turn the course into a pass/fail course? Would you make/allow the students to retake the course at no cost? Please let me know what you've seen happen and what you think we should do. Everyone around here is not really sure to how to approach the situation.


  2. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    I would convert the course to pass/fail, based on the mid-term grade, for those who will accept that; and for those students, that would be that. No harm, no foul. They move on.

    I would then offer any student who insists on having a letter grade the opportunity to re-take the course for free, thusly:
    • Those opting to re-take the course would be allowed to take the entire course if they like; and, if so, then whichever of the two mid-term grades is higher would be the one they'd be allowed to have (applied to their entire grade) for the first half of the course. These students would, of course, be repeating the entire 75% of the course that they took before the instructor disappeared; and the last 25% would, of course, be new to them.
    • Those opting to re-take the course who want to keep their existing mid-term grade would only be required to re-take the second half of the course. These students would actually be repeating only the third 25% of the course... the 25% that they took just before the instructor disappeared; and they would be graded anew on their second taking of that third 25% as if it were the first time, no matter what grade for that same third 25% they claimed they had been earning the first time around. The last 25% would, of course, be new to them.
    That's how I'd handle it... but that's just me.

    I might, then, strongly consider hunting-down that instructor like a dog and suing him for the lost revenues from all the repeat course-takers; and put a brick on whatever paycheck he's by then earning if he doesn't cough-up the money after I won the case against him. But, again... that's just me.

    The immediately foregoing assumes, of course, that the instructor didn't meet with foul play... which, if that's the case, would trump all of my retributive inclinations, and would impose upon me a strong feeling of sorrow for the guy and his family. If he did meet with foul play, and if the cops weren't sure how or why, I'd also make sure that the police were furnished the names, grades, and contact information of all of his students for the past couple of years... although, to protect myself with regard to student privacy, I might require that the police serve me with a search warrant before I did so.
  3. mcdirector

    mcdirector New Member

    What would happen if an instructor were to die at this stage of a course and the info couldn't be found? (Well, die where eveyone actually knew it.) It's got to happen.

    I like Gregg's plan -- covers all the bases.
  4. Tim D

    Tim D Member

    I think this is a problematic issue. If you offer the class on a Pass/Fail basis it could actually hurt the students depending on school policy. Some schools do not allow Pass/Fail in major required classes. It may also punish the students who are/were performing very well. I do not see having the students retake the class as a fair solution unless the student opts to do so, often there is a time factor and higher classes to takeoften;Therefore to make the students retake the entire course is unfair. It is not their fault this happened. I say the fairest thing to do is allow them to take the class pass/fail and waive school policy in this one instance,if need be(so if it is in the student's major it will still count). If the students opts out of that option,allow them to retake it at no cost. I see no other fair solution.
  5. Wasn't it around this time of year that Harold Holt disappeared?
  6. DesElms

    DesElms New Member

    Yes. December 17, 1967.

    So... lemmee get this straight: Are you suggesting that the missing instructor was swallowed by a wave, swept out to sea, and picked-up by a Chinese submarine?

  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    15-minute rule ought to do it.;)
  8. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    This actually happened to me in an undergrad course at UF . The instructor failed to turn in the grades on time, and I received an "N" on my report card for "no grade". I asked the instructor what happened, and he said that I had an A, but he turned in the grades late and will be changed later. I said fine and forgot about it. Soon after, he died.

    Next semester I noticed the N was still there, which counts the same as an F GPA-wise. It turns out because I added the class late, I wasn't on his copy of the master role, and he didn't notice. Everyone else got their grade but me. A new instructor was hired to replace him, and had all the graded exams and papers, but was fired and took off with everything. I tried for months to get the N removed, changed to pass/fail, or whatever, but kept getting the runaround from administration. Finally, I gave up. It was frustrating though because I knew I had an A in the class, but it counted as an F, and my GPA was already in enough trouble as it was!

    I would give the students an option of pass/fail, or the grade from their mid-term. It is unfair to make them take the class again.
  9. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Just out of curiosity, edowave, how did you end up with such absent-minded professors?
  10. Bill Huffman

    Bill Huffman Well-Known Member

    If this happened on TV then there's little doubt that one of the students killed him or was killed because of one of the students. Which scenario? It probably depends on the sex of the student, i.e., male student then student is the murderer, female student then killed trying to aid student. ;)
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2005

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