In the world of college or K-12 school grading, getting an "incomplete" is a bad thing. It signifies that the learner did not submit enough work to get full credit on the assignment. It operates inside a factory metaphor where the students are producing outputs and the instructor is a "Production Foreman".
I've recently come across three diverse sources that recommend giving an incomplete.
- Jay Cross and Clark Quinn launch their approach to "meta-learning" with a story of an experiment involving two groups of students. The group that is told the assigned paper "might not be true" -- scores better on the test of reading comprehension. As they say: "Uncertainty engages the mind".
- Kathy Sierra added a wonderful post to her Creating Passionate Users blog titled: "Don't make the demo look done". She explains for the feedback from users becomes much more insightful and valuable when the graphics are sketchy and the design approach appears undecided.
- Last night I watched the DVD of "In America" with the film's Director commentary playing. Jim Sheridan explained that he does not tell actors how to play a scene. He asks them for help in "fixing the script" and asks the actors to invent something better than what the script says to do.