How much time should I give?

Pearson has a good online homework system, which I assign for a course I usually teach two sections of. Because things go wrong with computers, I give the students a generous amount of time to finish the homework, and tell them that is what I’m doing. But they don’t consider the extra time as a cushion for emergencies.

If I am teaching a Monday-Wednesday-Friday class, and I cover a topic on Monday, I want the homework done by Wednesday. Sometimes they will have difficulty understanding Wednesday’s material until they’ve done the homework. But some students are so busy that they don’t have time to do the homework until the weekend, because they are working. And if the power, the Internet, their computer, or the availability of any computer has a problem over the weekend, they have to scramble to get it done.

Rather than evaluate excuses, I try to give them roughly seven to nine days after I teach a topic. But so many of them do the homework hours before it is due, resulting in being behind. I don’t want to be in the business of evaluating excuses. How can I know if their computer is down or the were at their sick grandmother’s bedside? I also suspect that most students could forge a decent looking doctor’s note.

The result of all this is that they come to class without understanding the prerequisite material, which means they don’t understand what I’m teaching them. I may have to start being unreasonable and not give them the cushion. There is no way I can win this.

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One Response to “How much time should I give?”

  1. theteachingwhore Says:

    I have always believed–and found this to be true in 22 years of teaching–an assignment will take the amount of time given to complete it. Period. If your students have 2 days, they’ll do it in 2 days. If they have 9 for the same assignment, they’ll do it in 9 days. Good luck!

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