Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Turning It In Late

Even as a former undergrad myself, I am baffled by the approach some students take to their assignments, and whether they should be turned in on time.

I returned from teaching my lab this afternoon to find that a lab assignment had miraculously appeared on my desk. This assignment had been given back to the students today, and my first thought was that I'd somehow left one on my desk. Then I noticed it wasn't graded, and my office mate confirmed that someone had dropped it off while I was teaching. A week late, without any comment.

What baffles me is not that the student decided to turn it in without even a note, or even that she thought she could turn it in after the graded assignments had been passed back and still get credit. No, what really annoys me is that this student was in today's lab. She didn't even try to talk to me, or ask me if she could turn it in now. She just went down to my office and dropped it off without a word.

I have no idea why this would appear to be a good strategy. If I'm going to refuse to accept it in person, I'm not going to go ahead and read it if it just appears on my desk. I'm not a scary person to talk to; in fact, my "no late assignments" policy has caved several times into "as long as I have it first thing tomorrow morning". (This is the result of a slippery slope: Students have to keep track of three pieces of paper to turn in for each assignment, they keep forgetting one, and if I'm going to let them turn in one piece a day late I might as well let them turn in the entire thing a day late).

Asking permission wouldn't have changed the outcome in this case; I'm not going to accept an assignment turned in after the first lab got their grades back; there's too much potential for cheating. But at least I wouldn't be sitting here in stunned amazement and the audacity and/or idiocy of my student.


Clarissa said...

When I was a student, I was afraid of certain lecturers or lab assistants. But these days, students clearly aren't any better!

I guess that student decided to not hand the assignment in to you in person because s/he was afraid that you would not accept it, but it the assignment was placed on your desk, you would.

Things that students take advantage of, huh?

grad student said...

The worst part is that I now find myself unwilling to hand the assignment back. I suppose I should assume that the student will be just as non-confrontational about seeing "late - no grade" as she was about turning the assignment in, but I'm almost inclined to let it rot with the other assignments that haven't been picked up.