Take a second and think about the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. If Ferris would have arrived home late, his whole ploy (to outsmart his parents by skipping school) would have been ruined. This is an example of a case when lateness has detrimental effects. On the other hand, think about filing your taxes. Filing late with the appropriate extension paperwork is no deal breaker-you will not have to sell your soul or give away your first born son. This latter example is a case when lateness is less critical for an individual.
So, in addressing lateness (late work) in the classroom, I think it is important to look at the consequences which impact student success. I was interested in how other educators faced the late work dilemma and this is what I found:
- Some find it helpful to dissect the issue. In a piece I found about the grey areas of grading, it seemed that asking a series of questions was important. For example, aking about the frequency (is it incidental or chronic) of the lateness can help in managing the issue. Also, asking if the student has access to adequate resources to complete the assignment, or even if the student is able to conquer personal issues (time management, accountability, etc.) are helpful in determing solutions. Don't forget that it is equally important to explore the teacher/instruction method for causes as well. Think about how class instruction might facilitate or hinder the assignment submission process.
- Some use the issue to engage students in positive talk. For example instead of threatening to deduct points, there is an incentive to add points for submitting work early.
- Some teachers perceive the issue as a conversation extender. For instance one blogger describes the technique of requiring that students “convince me” of the need to accept late work.
- Some teachers view late work as better than nothing. It seems that when ranking types of work, most teachers value the submission of late work more so than the submission of incomplete work. A study showed that 61% of teachers were more likely to score incomplete work as zero whereas only 8% would score late work as a zero.
- Some teachers utilize a window of time to submit work. For instance implementing the use of both a due date (this can last about a week) and a deadline (this is the last opportunity that a student can turn in work) may decrease the amount of late work submitted.
- Some teachers find it useful to collaborate with students in terms of due dates. In addition, communicating with other teachers and staff in your school is helpful in developing an assignment calendar (to avoid flooding students with work due the same time as other teachers).
- Finally, some teachers exchange the “late” status for “incomplete”. This switch of terminology is important because typically, students are not granted any points for late work, but partial points for incomplete work. In viewing work as “incomplete” (and then of course requiring completion), instead of late, this gives students the opportunity to earn back points.
“Can I still turn this in?” How do you respond when you hear this from your students-is it frustrating or motivational in the classroom policy sense? What solutions have you tried in addressing student late work and how feasible were they? Sometimes, I find it useful to change my policy based on the students I am working with that particular year. How have you changed your late work policy over time?