Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Late submitting students

What should we do with students who submit coursework late? It's a problem that plagues me and one that I've never been able to fully reconcile. My institution has strict rules and regulations regarding assessment and deadlines, but the implications of following through on those rules are overshadowed by recent HEFCE rules which result in funding money being denied if students do not attempt a piece of coursework (i.e. if it's handed in, however late, the pressure is on to mark it regardless of principles)

Let's talk about this hypothetically. Many student seem to think that it's okay to contact staff on the day a piece of work has to be handed in and either ask for an extension (often without sound grounds) or state matter-of-factly that the work is going to be late and that we should be aware of this. The implicit assumption always seems to be that as staff have been told, then there is no problem. Well, there is a problem.

Currently, say I have about 40+ late pieces of work to mark (2500 words in length). Some of these pieces of work were submitted in the last 48 hours and are a week overdue. This might be on top of a module wide weekly extension I granted to all the students in good faith after the majority complained of a backlog of essay deadlines. The problem I face is that these essays have to be marked by a certain date in order for the students to progress and/or graduate, yet these late submission are making that task nigh on impossible. Remember, I talking hypothetically here.

The hardline is to say that these are late submissions therefore they aren't going be marked. The students then fail the module. However, HEFCE will not then release the funds needed to pay for the delivery of the course - not ideal. The softline is to say, I'll mark them but it means that those pieces of work will have to marked very quickly which might mean parity is sacrificed in such a rushed job. IS this fair on the students? What about those who managed to get their essays in on time? Is there a middleground? Mark them all as a pass grade capped at, say, 40%? What about those students who have genuine reasons for late submission?

It's a minefield, I tell ya. Thanks goodness it's all hypothetical.

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