Working with Students

Late Work

What is your policy on late work?  

I've talked with some instructors who do not allow it.  The reason they often give is that the student needs to learn a lesson by getting a zero.  

However, in my opinion the primary thing my students should learn is the content of my course.  Learning a life lesson about being on time is important but secondary to the material they study.  If I don't allow late work then that student will never complete the assignment and never learn the material in it.  

In the past I have deducted 10% per day late with a maximum of 50%.  This way they still have some incentive to complete the work but still have a penalty for being late.

I started a new course this semester that has a lot of automatically graded quizzes.  This prevents me from easily implementing my 10% deduction because if I grant special access to a quiz it will be graded automatically without penalty.  If anyone knows a way around this I'd love to hear about it.  

What do you think?

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  • I think that sometimes this is such a gray area.  I do believe that students should carefully watch the syllabus and due dates.  However, I also know that there are times when life gets in the way.  For example, I have a student who was expecting a baby and was working to have everything done up a week in advance of the baby's due date so that she could have that week off.  Then there were some complications and she was delivered 6 weeks earlier than planned.  The baby had complications and needed to be in another hospital in another city.  I felt like her priority was the baby and that I needed to work with her.  I also have several students who are full-time employees, have families, and are trying to better themselves by getting an education and so doing it on line.  I do understand that life happens so I don't have a definite policy about late work.  I tell my students that if they communicate with me when things arise that prevent them from getting things done that I will most likely be able to work with them on due dates.  If students do not contact me appropriately then I do not accept their late work.  Most students who are truly committed to working faithfully on their education will usually contact me and let me know if something has prevented them from meeting the due dates on things.  When students start missing assignments then I contact them to see if there is something I can do to help them.

    • I've had babies and weddings come up a few times.  Nothing as serious as yours...but it sounds like you demonstrated Christ Like Love.  BRAVO!  We are teaching them to be kind humans as well as good at the subject matter...and you taught both.

      • Thank you Kotinca,

        I was worried I was too lenient with them but I really do think unless they abuse the privilege it is important to work with them on life matters as well.  Again thanks for you kind words.

  • I don't have the magic answer, but one thing I do is ask students to email me to "open" the quiz for them.  I then remind them of the latework policy (i.e. that I will deduct points--I usually follow the same idea you do, 1 grade level for each day late:  max of 50% reduction).  In the same email, I then ask them assume responsibility and email me back to let me know they have completed it:  I tell them up front that the course will automatically give full points b/c it is auto graded, but that I will need to go in and reduce that according to the late work policy (which I post week 1 as part of my announcements).  I have never had complaints for the deduction because everything is transparent from the start. And if they don't email me, I feel that is on their shoulders as far as honesty goes.  

    Again--not the silver bullet.  But it works for me fairly simply.  And it isn't as time consuming as you might think.  

  • There have been some great insights into this already--but I wanted to comment on the late quizzes question Clint posed. I found only one way I can go about late quizzes with my limited knowledge. The quizzes in my course have an "end date", which closes the quiz when it is due. I will then go in the next day, open up the quiz again, and give those students a "0" who didn't complete it with the feedback saying, "I have opened the quiz back up for you to complete. Remember that there is a 10% penalty for each day it is late, so be sure to get this in as soon as possible. Looking forward to seeing your work!" Or something along those lines. Then, when the quizzes are turned in, I can easily see which quizzes were turned in late because they are the only ones I have the "feedback sunburst" next to their grade in the "Grade All" section of that quiz. That is the only way I have been able to figure out how to differentiate between those who turn it in late from those who do not. If anyone else has an easier way, I would love to know!

    • Thank you for this idea.

      I extended a discussion board assignment week 1 because of classes starting on Thursday and work being due Saturday. Even though it showed a new due date on  my side, the students could not get in to it for some odd reason.  Has this happened to you before?

      • I have, and I ended up needing to extend the due date in a different section of the course. Sometimes, you can go into "content" and edit assignments in that folder--but sometimes you have to go to the "discussion" folder and extend there instead. I don't know why you have to do both, but that is what I have found. Someone can correct me if they know a different way. 

        • Thank you so much, I didn't realize there were two ways to do this!!  I love that we have this group, the inside tips are amazing!!

          • Yes, unfortunately the tools and the activity in Content don't always talk to each other. So changing the date in one place is usually not enough. It never hurts to check both places. 

  • In working my online master's degree in teaching and learning, CSU-global had a policy of allowing one week late without penalty anytime, any course.  I only took advantage of the option twice in four years of work.  As a student I truly appreciated acknowledgment that other priorities occasionally drop school to second place.

    I know for our students, especially our youngest adults, learning the importance of deadlines is difficult. They seem to need a stronger line.   For our older students, life realities can cause priority shifts once or twice a semester.  They seem to need a softer line.  I have concern also for the shy or ESL student who may need exceptions but never ask. They might need an outreach invitation.

    When we look big picture, what are the big ideas we want students to take away?  I hope they leave my class with greater competence, confidence, and testimony.  I hope they know their teacher cared and worked for their success.  I hope they realize choices have consequences.  I hope they feel the joy of meeting high expectations.  I suggest any late work policy be built on these foundations.  I suggest it be built on a fairly strong line where the teacher reaches out with opportunities for explanation, redo and redemption.  2 cents.

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