Tuesday Teaching Topic: Effective Ways to deal with Late Assignment Submissions

We all receive our first graded homework submissions at different times, but I’d guess that for many of us, week 2 brings in the first batch. We know what’s coming. Despite our good advice and warnings, there will be students who do not submit their work. There will be students who do the work poorly. There will be students who have excuses about why they do not have their work to submit. There will be students who turn in something, but which does not fit the assignment requirements.

How do you respond to this? How should we respond? As an undergraduate, the majority of my professors didn’t say anything. They did not lecture us with the importance of turning in our assignments. They did not berate us. They did not try to teach us that it was important to submit assignments. I think our professors believed that we students knew the score: we knew what we were supposed to do and why we were supposed to do it. If we didn’t turn in our work, we knew the consequences.

Maybe that was right: maybe we students did know the score. Maybe we accepted the necessity and value in submitting work on time. Perhaps we had been trained properly.

But I wonder: are all students properly educated in behavior like submitting homework on time? Should they be? If a student doesn’t turn in their work, should this be interpreted as a lack of knowledge, rather than a sign of poor practice? Maybe the “knowledge” is deeper than simply accepting a fact about a world, but having the belief about a due date and responsibility to be deeply connected and rooted into a much larger social framework. But it is that larger social framework that needs addressing. Do we address it?

3 thoughts on “Tuesday Teaching Topic: Effective Ways to deal with Late Assignment Submissions

  1. I have struggled with late work for years until I decided to frame it as ethos.

    I tell students I will accept their work at week 13 of the semester (with a 10% penalty) if they have not arrived late to class, asked to turn in anything else late, and not missed any other classes from the time they ask to submit late until week 13.

    In other words, I try to frame it as they earn the privilege of submitting late work instead of relying on me to make an exception.

    It’s not a “yes” or a “no,” but a “you will have to earn it.” It empowers students, I think to make mistakes, with a consequence, but also offer an opportunity to redeem themselves, while accounting for deficiencies in academic literacy, etc.

    : )

  2. What if they are afraid to submit it? What if this college thing is so new and so scary that they are putting off what they see as the potentially inevitable news that they do not measure up? No, this is not always true, but I’m positive it is true sometimes. And they may not even know this is why they have not turned it in. What is our responsibility to those students, our most vulnerable students?

    • This is a great point. We can’t take it for granted that our students have been well prepared, both intellectually and emotionally, for college. I think its part of our job to help educate them not only in their subject matter, but also how to deal with college at an emotional, intellectual, and habitual manner.

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