Grading. Assessing. Collaborating. Nudging. Teaching. Coaching.
Whatever it is that you call the action of assigning a number or letter to student learning, there’s another aspect to this that all instructors need to address: Late Work.
I think what’s important to that phrase is the word WORK. That acknowledges that work is, well, getting done. Isn’t that an important idea to remember? Of course, LATE means that this item or task was not completed in a timely fashion or on the schedule that the instructor assigned. Nonetheless, the WORK was completed.
Yes, as a teacher, I need to prepare students for real-life experiences, and that includes punctuality and accountability, especially for time-sensitive material.
What’s fair though? How many points should be deducted per day? Per week? Or should I even penalize at all? I mean, what causes students to submit work late? If anxiety is getting in the way, a student could feel terribly debilitated.
Last year, rather than trying to figure out this struggle on my own, I turned to collaboration. I actually skipped over connecting with my department or with other colleagues...I asked my students for insight. Crazy? Maybe...
Based on conversations with my 11th and 12th grade students, it was clear that students want and appreciate deadlines and/or timelines. They want to know what’s “on pace” and what’s expected. However, they want flexibility.
When I heard flexibility, I think of my friends who have the luxury of having flex-time. They can start and end their workday on a timeframe that’s convenient, as long as they meet the expectations of their employer. Sounds fantastic in theory! Now, I needed to figure out how to keep my students responsible for their work so they didn’t procrastinate ...and procrastinate ...and procrastinate ...just to find themselves with a pile of uncompleted modules and assignments that they’d have to rush through at the end of the semester.
First semester, the students in my Photo III class chose to have monthly deadlines. I’d release all projects for the month on the 1st, and all of the work would be due on the last day of the month. Anything submitted before that time was deducted 10% per week it was late.
Second semester, students chose something similar, but with much more detail. Like first semester, all of the projects were released on the 1st. However, they asked for a project a week to be due on Friday, but no penalty for late work until the last day of the month. They, too, wanted late critiques and written work to have a 10% per week penalty, but they decided late projects should receive a 10% per month penalty. That way, they felt they had more control of the risk-taking and revisions on the big concepts.
Both semesters, I was quite impressed by the reasons they provided. I think providing these 17- and 18-year-olds a chance to influence a class syllabus paid off. (I cannot believe how much they opened up about school, learning, etc. and what it all "could be" if education changed.) Collectively, these Photo III students were the most timely group of students I have taught. I don’t think it was the rigor or the pacing of the class. Honestly, they explored content deeper and more thoroughly than any other Photo III group had before, but I think it was the fact that they felt invested...and trusted.
I love what my students created, but part of me still wonders whether or not I should eliminate LATE work all together. My gut says “no” because that’s not how life is; it's just a matter of how it's documented, managed, etc. ...but I’m always open to a discussion, with Canvas Community members, colleagues, or students.