Comments on: Deadlines, schmedlines History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:01:25 +0000 hourly 1 By: perpetua Tue, 03 Nov 2009 16:16:35 +0000 Part of the problem with the issue of extensions and “real” emergencies – such as funerals, catastrophic illness of self or loved one, etc. – is that many students (and faculty) don’t properly understand the protocols in place at their universities – or the universities don’t have clear protocols in place. If a student must miss class, especially if it is a week or part of a week, for bereavement or illness then the student (or hir parents) should contact the university’s student liaison (often a dean). That office should then notify all the student’s professors of the situation (though they should do so without revealing any details; one of the big problems with the funeral scenario and asking for parental emails is that this requires the student to give confidential information about hir life to the professor, which ze shouldn’t have to, in my opinion) and that the student is excused. This is the *university’s* responsibility. And while some may disagree with me, I feel strongly that no one should be forbidden an extension or an excused late paper in a case of individual or family tragedy. When someone’s mother is dying of cancer, or someone else has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, the last thing the student should have to worry about is failing some (ultimately, let’s face it, kind of dumb) assignment. I had a disproportionate number of students with problems at my first uni – it felt like a constant parade of office crying about very serious problems. I always gently directed them to the proper university office if they had not done so, so they didn’t feel like they had to go to every professor’s office explaining “My mother’s dying.” or “I have a brain tumor.” (In addition to having students these students I also suffered a devastating personal loss in college, which makes me more sensitive to the needs to students facing real tragedy.) These types of situations are clearly distinguishable from “I have a cold,” or “My boyfriend broke up with me.” Or even a legitimate “My life is a complete mess right now.”

Re: no late papers but do accept extensions – IMO the professor’s policies regarding BOTH should be listed clearly in the syllabus and gone over the first day of class, so there isn’t any confusion about what the professor means (going back to Nels’ comment on the subject). That’s why I put language explicitly stating that there will be no exceptions to the late policies, in case of officially documented emergencies. I understand prof’s concerns that opening a door to extensions will lead to a flood – I’m sure it depends on university culture, but I’ve never had significant problems since instituting my “official documentation” policy – the liars/fakers generally realize it’s not worth it (and this at a solidly 2nd or 3rd tier state school).

By: Matt L Tue, 03 Nov 2009 15:58:18 +0000 Janice, thanks for the rubric idea!

Thanks also to Nels and Historiann. This has encouraged me to think more about how all the class policies fit with the pedagogy. Right now I have two pages of boiler plate in my syllabus on everything from academic honesty to how wide the margins of their papers should be. Its mostly reactive policy created to address a particular problem or CYA for specific university policies. This discussion and the comments from everyone have led me to think differently about what should go in that syllabus and how to make it align with pedagogy.

By: Historiann Tue, 03 Nov 2009 14:33:49 +0000 DV–my college subscribed to last year, but couldn’t afford to keep it up this year. The tech people added a program to our Blackboard program in which students submit digital copies of their essays, and they’re checked against each other as well as against the internets for plagiarism. I find it most useful when teaching a course with 100+ students and a T.A. and I are sharing the grading–I’ve had problems in other classes when students had different T.A.s and they were submitting the same essay twice. This system works against student temptations to do the same.

Dr. Crazy & all: I’m very supportive of using deadlines to structure our own workload as well as that of our students. I agree with Crazy’s strategy of being strict about consistent, shorter-term deadlines. The point of journal entries/precis of the weekly readings is to get the students to do the work on a regular basis and be prepared to participate in class discussions.

This discussion just goes to show us all that deadlines serve a variety of purposes–managing our workloads (which range from people teaching 5-5 loads to 2-2 or 2-1-0 loads), helping us deal with our particular students (from the bright but entitled to struggling first-generation college students), and serving some kind of thoughtful purpose in our pedagogy and disciplinary training. What I thought was valuable about Nels’s commentary wasn’t so much his particular decision about how to handle deadlines and late papers in his classes–although I think I’ll borrow them for my own classes next term–as his point that “policies need to align with pedagogies.” And it’s clear that most of you agree, across a variety of disciplines and pedagogies.

thefrogprincess’s comments give me more inspiration for borrowing Nels’s particular deadline solutions. As others in this thread have suggested, the squeakiest wheels get the extensions, when there are probably other students whose lives are even more chaotic but for whatever reason–class background, ethnicity, shyness, not knowing how to approach a professor for a favor–they’ll suck it up and get the work done somehow or just take the penalty for missing the deadline.

By: Feminist Avatar Tue, 03 Nov 2009 10:39:42 +0000 I also find it interesting that it can be assumed that there are ‘parents’ to ask. What about mature students- or even someone like me at u/grad who was typical age but married? Should I have got a note from my husband (who was also a student)? To be honest, even at 19 if a university lecturer required this of me, I would have told them to run and jump. But, then in the UK, we are legally adults at 16 or 18, depending on the part of the UK and what particular law you are referring to- and nobody here likes the idea of parents being involved in university education. That seems like a nightmare waiting to happen.

By: Rich Tue, 03 Nov 2009 04:58:02 +0000 “How does this work exactly?”

gross simplification by someone who quit C++ after the first two semesters:

Step one: plagiarize everything on the internet and turn it into a number so you don’t get into trouble for plagiarizing yourself by creating a quasi legal derivative work.

Step two: break up a paper into micro phrases (probably weighted by proper names, things not in the standard dictionary), which is the equivalent of googling separately:

“I’m interested to know more about”

“to know more about the “in-house”

“the “in-house electronic plagiarism detector system.””

“plagiarism detector system.” How does”

“How does this work exactly?”

Step three: generate probability matches of some sort.

By: Comrade PhysioProf Tue, 03 Nov 2009 04:09:31 +0000 I am so glad we don’t have to deal with this kind of crap in medical schools. (Of course, we have other crap to deal with!)

By: DV Tue, 03 Nov 2009 03:27:14 +0000 I’m interested to know more about the “in-house electronic plagiarism detector system.” How does this work exactly?

By: thefrogprincess Tue, 03 Nov 2009 03:25:51 +0000 I’m not really in a position to come down on either side of this issue since I haven’t done enough teaching to be justifiably annoyed at a rolling stream of papers that come in weeks after the fact. (It also strikes me that some of this depends on the number of students and maybe even the type of class. I could see being much more lenient with a student who’s majoring in the field than 1 out of 100 in an intro survey.) What I will say, though, is that in my experience, some of the students who are struggling the most might be the least likely to say anything. The genius of the policy outlined above is that it doesn’t require any conversation with the professor, a conversation that’s not very likely to happen if the student feels for whatever reason like they cannot talk to the professor about what’s going on. For example, people who grew up in families where talking about what was going on inside the family was strictly forbidden aren’t suddenly going to be extremely forthcoming with details when there’s some family emergency. Also, requiring that people provide verification from parents/family members can be dicey. Not everybody has a good relationship with their parents; some people might not even bother getting the extension they really need if it requires wading back into a toxic situation that they likely went to college to escape. I get that Highberg’s solution won’t work for everyone but at the same time, students who are floundering often won’t reach out for the help that may be implicit in the “no extension unless its serious” policy.

By: Dr. Crazy Tue, 03 Nov 2009 00:09:51 +0000 I’ve only just skimmed the preceding 30 comments, so forgive me if I’m not responding directly or if I’m repeating.

I do one letter grade per calendar day off for late papers. To my mind, this is not about preparing students for the work world so much as about having a clear policy in place that applies to all, which I suppose Nels’ policy does, too. The thing that’s good about both policies is that they stop the necessity of adjudicating a lot of excuses. The thing for me, in teaching four courses (no sections), is it’s pretty important to *my* well-being that I know when I’m getting a stack of papers in and I know when I need to get them graded by. Because I don’t teach sections, and because the range of courses that I teach varies widely in terms of content/audience, it’s not realistic for me to stick all papers due at the same time across all of my courses. If I did the thing where I allowed a week leeway for assignments, I’d have papers coming in about every single week of the semester. And I would die. Or if I didn’t die, I’d definitely lose at least 20% of the papers that came in. I’m scattered like that.

So my reasons for this are more pragmatic/selfish than about student learning. Except: I kind of think that any course policy is about learning to understand what is necessary for dealing with anybody who has power over you. This means that it’s *good* for different folks to have different policies, as far as student learning goes, at least as far as they’re learning people skills. I’d also say that deadlines for short response-type assignments are good for keeping students on track in a course. I really don’t want students doing every entry in a reading journal, say, the night before one big deadline. Why? Because that was the kind of crap I pulled as a student, and I didn’t learn anything when I did that. So while the deadline itself may not be teaching a lesson, having the deadline meant that I completed the assignment as it was intended, rather than procrastinating (as is my natural mode of being). I think this is often a problem, by the by, not with students who are struggling, but rather with strong students who have the innate abilities/talent or preparedness to fake it. I do think we do those students a disservice when we let them rely on what they bring to a course rather than pushing them further.

Also, though, and this makes me more comfortable with the policy, I assign a LOT of writing across my courses, and earlier assignments are weighted less than later ones. And assignments that are weighted heavily have more steps to them, which means that students get a lot of feedback throughout a 4-6 week period prior to the deadline – in other words, there shouldn’t be a situation where a student has an assignment worth more than 5-10% that catches them by surprise in which they’ll be docked if they turn it in late.

I personally would have a very hard time with not giving a student feedback if they got something in after the original deadline. Especially if the student could whip up a B paper and be happy with the grade. I’m not sure why that bothers me so much, but it does.

By: Erica Tue, 03 Nov 2009 00:08:49 +0000 Speaking from the perspective of a student, I actually had a major shift in whether I was likely to speak deadlines as I got older. As an undergraduate, I treated them with some respect, but also needed extensions (or simply didn’t turn an assignment in) in at least one assignment in probably every class I took. However, I then entered the “real world”, and the idea of getting an extension on “real work” is simply laughable. (How’s it going getting that critical component ordered, we need it tomorrow! Oh, sorry, [blah blah excuse blah blah], it won’t be here until next month… I’m SURE that would go well.) As a result, I have never missed an assignment in graduate school; apparently this attention to deadlines is absolutely shocking to professors when they find out I have a part-time job teaching, and two kids at home.

PorJ mentioned a “sense of entitlement that some students have”, and I completely agree. They are shocked/angry when their request doesn’t result in an extension (and I’m talking about science/math homework here, not something that typically needs inspiration or refinement like a humanities essay might). I sit around listening to undergrads in classes discussing how they were “totally wasted last night”, then directly connect that to “I am going to ask Dr. Whoever for an extension on the homework” — these are obstacles that the student created, not an illness or family problem or outside interference of any kind.

When/if I turn into a professor, I’m not likely to be very generous with extensions, and it’s entirely a result of watching children (myself-10-years-ago included) waste their time and then try to half-ass their way out of the problem they created.