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Communicating Your Policy

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One of the most important things you can do at the beginning of the term is to let your students know your policy on late assignments. Making your policy clear from the start will save you from having to argue with students about late assignments on a case-by-case basis.

Some academic departments have a strict policy against accepting late homework, so please check with your academic director to see whether this is the case in your department. If there is no departmental policy, then it’s up to you to establish your own guidelines.

Key Considerations

If you do decide to accept late work in your online class, it’s important to carefully define the circumstances under which you’ll accept it — and the penalties, if any, for tardiness. Here are some of the points you’ll want to cover:

  • How many assignments may a student turn in late?
    Can all their work be late or will you only accept a limited number of late submissions? Allowing students to submit some work after the deadline is practical — and humane — because it allows for life crises that might crop up in your students’ lives. But it’s a good policy to limit the number of late submissions, so that students don’t take advantage of your leniency.
  • How late can an assignment come in?
    Do you want to allow students to submit late work at any time? Or do you want to allow them an extra week — but no more? Be careful with this point, because in the past several instructors who had not spelled out this aspect of their late homework policy had students try to submit all the work for the semester on the last day of the term. If you don’t make clear out your rules and limits in this area, then you risk having to negotiate these sorts of problems on an individual basis.
  • What penalty will be imposed on work submitted after the deadline?
    Some teachers warn students that late work will not get the same detailed reviews given to on-time assignments. Alternatively, some teachers choose to critique late work but award it no credit. Still others mark late assignments down a certain amount for every day — or every week — of tardiness. So, for example, you might allow a week’s leeway to turn in work, but it would automatically be marked down a full grade (A to B, for example).
  • Where should late assignments be posted?
    Assignment topics allow you to set both a due date (deadline) and a separate — and later — closing date. Extending the closing date for an assignment allows students to submit work after the deadline, and the system clearly marks their posts as “late.” Learn more about handling late homework by checking out 4 Quick Tips for Grading.
  • How should late assignments be identified?
    You’ll also find it useful to require students to put the number and title of the late assignment in the subject field of their post, so that you can easily figure out which assignment they’re making up.

Learn more

  • Under certain special circumstances defined by the Academy, you must accommodate students who are late in completing their work.
  • Late homework creates certain grading challenges. To learn more about approaches to grading late work, please check out 4 Quick Tips for Grading.
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