Archive for January 4th, 2015

In my tenth year of teaching college students, I am largely past the big changes in course policies from one semester to the next that characterized my early teaching. Traditionally, I have accepted late assignments with a reduction of one letter grade for each day that they are late. Looking at the syllabi of my new colleagues before the start of the fall semester, however, I saw that many of them would comment on late assignments but would not grade them, combining this with one or two exceptions per student, so I decided to change my policy. This was a big change.

This change was so big, in fact, that I had a very hard time enforcing it. Even though I had a very lenient policy for granting extensions (essentially: ask and you shall receive), a zero seemed like a very harsh penalty for an assignment that was a few hours, or even a day, late. For the spring, then, I’m returning to my old policy. I’ve considered limiting the number of extensions that students can ask for but I would rather have them learn to be proactive about recognizing when their schedule is going to be too busy to give something their best effort than imposing some sort of arbitrary cut-off for doing so.

I guess that in my tenth year of teaching I finally realized that if a class policy makes me uncomfortable, it probably isn’t best for me or my students.

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