I have always distributed due dates in online classes across the week. For instance, I might have something due on Monday, something due on Wednesday, and something due on Friday. My theory has always been that I want the students to engage with the class on multiple days, believing that distributed due dates would increase engagement, success, and retention. However, when looking at classes by my colleagues, I see many of them will have everything due for a week on one day; Sunday seems popular for some reason.
Having no formal training as an instructional designer, I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on best practices or could direct me to relevant research on managing due dates in one line classes. Thanks in advance for your thoughts and help!
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I was just reading about this in "Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology" by Michelle Miller which I would highly recommend. She discusses the "spacing effect" or distributed practice which refers to the increased payoff from spreading review sessions over time rather than in one large session. The idea is to introduce smaller, low-stakes assignments throughout the week to keep students engaged and allow students repeated opportunities to go over the material. She cites research from 2011 by G. Xue, L. Mei, C. Chen, Z. Lu, R. Poldrack, and Q. Dong in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
23( 7): 1624– 1633, doi: 10.1162/ jocn. 2010.21532.
I agree with several of the previous posts that you have to balance this with the online students' desire to work on a more flexible schedule. It would definitely be important to make very clear these are low-stakes assignments, and maybe make the high stakes assignments due on a specific day of the week for consistency. If there are going to be many assignments on different days of the week, the students need to clearly understand the expectations. I love the way Canvas allows faculty to set up these assignments one time and make them available to students in many ways -- the Calendar, Syllabus, Assignments, as well as modules and pages.